Systems for Managing Mobile Production Resources
Publication Date: 2002-Dec-20
The IP.com Prior Art Database
Jeff Lindsay: AUTHOR [+4]
A computerized system is proposed for optimizing the use and placement of multiple mobile production facilities (mini-mills or arrays of modular manufacturing systems). Mobile mills can be moved to new optimized locations based on changes in market conditions, regulations, supplies of raw materials, and so forth. The mobile facilities can be moved by train or truck ("mills on wheels") for use on land, or by barge or boat.
Systems for Managing Mobile
In the past, establishing a mill or other production facility required the selection of a site which would be suitable for many years or decades. Plans to construct new mills were often abandoned in light of uncertainty about future political or regulatory situations, uncertainty about the dependability of raw materials, and many other factors. However, advances in modular mill construction and the development of mobile mills (sometimes called “mini-mills”) is now beginning to make it possible for many products, once manufactured only by large production facilities permanently tied to single locations, to now be manufactured with smaller, relocatable production facilities. Mobile mills may be self-contained facilities mounted on platforms that can be moved by truck (e.g., 40-foot long platforms), by train, barge, or other means.
In some cases, essentially all the piping and wiring of a mobile mill is completely contained on the mobile platform. Users must simply provide a power supply and raw materials for operation. In some variations, the mobile mills are not located on land but on floating platforms such as barges or ships, and may have self-contained power sources. Groups of mobile mills, whether on land or water, can be joined or can work cooperatively to achieve production that normally would take a much larger facility than could be mobilized as a single unit.
Mobile mills can benefit from recent advances in modular technology for manufacturing. Modular components within permanent production facilities have become increasingly common and are a tool for improving the flexibility of the production facility. For example, the drying of paper and textile webs can be done with a variety of movable dryer modules, such as those disclosed by Stephansen in US Patent No. 4,514,913, “Apparatus for Drying a Moving Web Having Movable Dryer Modules,” issued May 7, 1985. Entire mills have been built with modular construction. See, for example, D. Waters, “Modular Construction Keeps Mill Expansion at Remote Site On Target,” Pulp and Paper, Vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 173-176 (March 1986). Modular components for production of absorbent articles is also already known.
As a related example, technology also exists for the construction of a modular tissue machine that does not need to be integrated with the foundations of a mill. For example, installation of a new modular crescent former tissue machine is under way at Charles Turner's Springside mill in Bolton, UK, which will produce 15,000 ton/y with a trim width of 2.75 m. Modular tissue machines freed from the need to be integrated with mill foundations open the possibility not only for prefabricated construction, but relocatable tissue machines or tissue components to permit production of tissue to be optimized wit...