Managing complex assembly lines: simultaneously solving line balancing and feeding problems

01 October 2018 → 31 August 2021
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund, Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Infrastructure, transport and mobility engineering
    • Structural engineering
    • Other civil and building engineering
    • Other mechanical and manufacturing engineering
assembly lines
Project description

Nowadays, many products like cars are becoming more complex and consist of many parts produced by different suppliers. For final assembly, all necessary assembly tasks need to be distributed among workers. Work stations should be balanced in a smooth way to reduce idle times of workers and, hence, costs. An ongoing trend of assembling ever more products on a single assembly line, leads to space scarcity at assembly stations. Therefore, I investigate assembly line balancing with multiple products assuming limited but variable space, e.g., by making one station smaller, a neighboring station can be enlarged. In assembly systems, in addition to balancing, decisions on the way to provide parts need to be taken. E.g., pallets or sequenced containers may be provided. In the first case all variants of a part are stored on different pallets at a station. In the latter case, different variants of the same part are preselected, sorted in the order of demand and provided in a single container. Obviously, there is a tradeoff between handling effort necessary to prepare containers in the latter case and space consumption and higher walking costs in the former case. The assembly line feeding problem describes the investigation of decision making for this problem. The main research objective of this project is the investigation of a joint optimization of assembly line balancing and assembly line feeding aiming for a holistic cost minimization of the overall assembly system.