Title: Allocation of work to the stations of an assembly line with buffers between stations and three general learning patterns

Authors: Yuval Cohen, Ezey M. Dar-El, Gad Vitner, Subhash C. Sarin

Addresses: Department of Management and Economics, The Open University of Israel, 108 Rabutzki street, P.O. Box 808, Raanana 43104, Israel. ' Technion (IIT), Kiryat Hatechnion, Haifa 32000, Israel. ' Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, School of Engineering, The Ruppin Academic Centre, Emek-Hafer 40250, Israel. ' Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 2061, USA

Abstract: This paper addresses the problem of allocating work to the stations of an assembly line for minimising the makespan required to process a lot of products with a low overall demand. This environment is characterised by different learning slopes in the various stations (due to the nature of work). We assume small (e.g. a laser pen) to medium size products (e.g. a pilot helmet) so buffer space, for temporary purposes, is typically not a problem. Three general patterns of stations| learning are considered, namely, decreasing, increasing and constant. Methodologies are presented for the optimal allocation of work to the stations for each of these cases. Some numerical results are also presented to show a significant impact of buffer capacity on makespan reduction as well as to reveal significant improvement in the makespan value due to unequal (but optimal) work allocation.

Keywords: batch assembly; learning; work-in-process; WIP; assembly line balancing; ALB; optimisation; work allocation; buffer capacity; makespan reduction.

DOI: 10.1504/IJISTA.2008.016362

International Journal of Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, 2008 Vol.4 No.1/2, pp.123 - 140

Published online: 22 Dec 2007 *

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