Operational flexibility quantification in a make-to-order assembly system

  • Roque Calvo
  • Rosario Domingo
  • Miguel A. Sebastián


Manufacturing flexibility is becoming a fundamental production objective, along with cost, quality, and delivery time. Current production systems face quick changes in market conditions and they need to adapt in this environment. The supply chain and industrial globalization give an important role for assembly systems. Placed at the end of the value chain, assembly systems must face those quick changes successfully to reach the expected performance. The key performance indicators are normally based on cost, quality, and delivery time objectives. Reducing costs and improving quality are almost universal goals. Delivery time is typically determined by customer demand in the supply chain, planning from make-to-stock to make-to-order, and aspiring to reach a just-in-time manufacturing system. In this context, flexibility could be the differential advantage to tackle uncertainty. Closely related to the rest of production objectives and the overall performance of the system, flexibility must be integrated in the system for successful decision-making in operations. This work presents this approach of flexibility. A brief review of flexibility concepts and measurements in the literature precedes an introduction to flexibility, defined based on the function of utility. This function represents the expectations of system performance. This approach allows the formulation of the taxonomy of operational flexibility in agreement with the classical types identified in former works. Next, an integer model is programmed to simulate the basic behavior of task planning in a make-to-order assembly system. This first application illustrates flexibility quantification based on utility evolution. The use of common industrial parameters to quantify operational flexibility will finally facilitate an integrated interpretation of system performance trends.


Decision-making Manufacturing flexibility Flexible production systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roque Calvo
    • 1
  • Rosario Domingo
    • 1
  • Miguel A. Sebastián
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Manufacturing EngineeringNational Distance University of Spain (UNED)MadridSpain

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