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The product rate variation problem and its relevance in real world mixed-model assembly lines. (English) Zbl 1159.90359
Summary: Production processes in a wide range of industries rely on modern mixed-model assembly systems, which allow an efficient manufacture of various models of a common base product on the same assembly line. In order to facilitate a just-in-time supply of materials, the literature proposes various sequencing problems under the term “level scheduling”, which all aim at evenly smoothing the part consumption induced by the production sequence over time. Among these approaches, the popular product rate variation (PRV) problem is considered to be an appropriate approximate model, if either (i) all products require approximately the same number and mix of parts or (ii) part usages of all products are (almost completely) distinct. These statements are (iii) further specified by analytical findings, which prove the equivalence of product and material oriented level scheduling under certain conditions. These three prerequisites commonly cited in the literature when justifying the practical relevance of the PRV are evaluated by means of three simple computational experiments and are then discussed with regard to their relevance in practical settings. It is concluded that the PRV is in fact inappropriate for use in today’s real world mixed-model assembly systems.

90B30 Production models
Full Text: DOI
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