Consideration of Redundancies in the Configuration of Automated Flow Lines

  • Christoph MüllerEmail author
  • Christian Weckenborg
  • Martin Grunewald
  • Thomas S. Spengler
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Logistics book series (LNLO)


Highly automated manufacturing systems offer several advantages and are widely introduced as a strategy to improve the performance of manufacturing organizations. Various forms of automated equipment, such as industrial robots or flexible automatic machines, are used extensively in high-volume industrial production. Especially for flow production systems automation has advanced considerably. This type of production system can, for instance, be found in the automotive, home appliance, or electronics industry where highly automated flow lines are mainly implemented for safety, quality, and productivity reasons. A significant challenge in the operation of highly automated assembly lines is the occurrence of equipment failures which impair the throughput rate. Therefore, buffer space is allocated between the stations of an assembly line in order to achieve a desired throughput rate in spite of equipment failures. However, the installation of buffer space requires considerable investments and also leads to an increase of the average work-in-process inventory in the line. A different approach to achieve a desired throughput rate despite equipment failures is a redundant configuration, in which downstream stations automatically take over the operations of failed stations in the event of failure. The throughput loss in these situations mainly depends on the level of redundancy designed into the system. We present an assembly line balancing model for automated assembly lines which maximizes the lines’ level of redundancy for a given number of stations. In a numerical analysis we demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach and show that a redundant configuration allows for significant reductions of required buffer sizes in flow lines with unreliable equipment for a given throughput rate.


Assembly Line Equipment Failure Throughput Rate Downstream Station Assembly Line Balance Problem 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Müller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Weckenborg
    • 1
  • Martin Grunewald
    • 2
  • Thomas S. Spengler
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Automotive Management and Industrial ProductionTechnische Universität BraunschweigBrunswickGermany
  2. 2.Production and Logistics Research Group, Institute of Automotive Management and Industrial Production, University of BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

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