Sequencing assembly lines to facilitate synchronized just-in-time part supply
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The problem of sequencing assembly lines consists of determining the order in which a given set of products is launched down the line. Since individual products may require different parts in different quantities, the production sequence has a big influence on line-side inventory. Classically, sequences are often optimized with the goal of attaining level schedules, i.e., the part demand should be smooth during the planning horizon. However, this approach does not necessarily work well if parts are delivered at discrete points in time in bulk quantities. In this paper, we consider a production system where bins of parts are delivered periodically by a tow train from a central depot at fixed times. Due to the limited space at the assembly line, the maximum number of bins in stock at any time at any station should be minimal. We propose an exact solution method based on combinatorial Benders decomposition as well as bounding procedures and heuristics for this problem. The algorithms are shown to perform well both on instances from the literature and on new data sets. We also investigate whether classic level scheduling methods are effective at reducing line-side stock in an assembly system supplied by tow train, and to what degree line-side stock can be traded off for more frequent deliveries.
KeywordsAssembly line sequencing Tow trains Level scheduling Benders decomposition
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