The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, July, 2009, Vol.43(1-2), p.357(8)
Byline: Min-Chun Yu (1), Timothy J. Greene (2) Keywords: Routing flexibility; Multi-stage; Flexible flow shop Abstract: The high degree of variety in customer demands causes mass production to become outdated and flexible production to be favored. Routing flexibility can be found in systems that implement general-purpose machines, alternative or identical machines, redundant machine tools, or the versatility of material handling systems. It is recognized that routing flexibility can be treated as a tool for enhancing system performance, such as lead time and inventory reduction. However, its implementation entails a huge cost of installation of flexible machines, automated tool changers and fixtures, and machine operators possessing multiple skills. Therefore, system managers must determine the appropriate level of routing flexibility for a specific system configuration in order to balance benefits and costs incurred. This paper presents a background to and a rational for a routing flexibility measure for a multi-stage flow shop. Instead of merely counting the number of available routes, this measure takes into account the loading balance between machines. Therefore, a manufacturing system with overloaded machines will have less routing flexibility as compared with one that is not overloaded, when both systems have the same number of available routes. An example for demonstrating the applicability of the proposed measure is also illustrated. Author Affiliation: (1) Department of Business Administration, National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences, 415 Chien-Kung Road, Kaohsiung, 807, Taiwan (2) Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Western Michigan, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI, 49008-5200, USA Article History: Registration Date: 13/08/2008 Received Date: 22/02/2008 Accepted Date: 13/08/2008 Online Date: 30/08/2008
Materials Handling Equipment
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