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Analysing and levelling manufacturing complexity in mixed-model assembly lines

Luiza Zeltzer (UGent)
(2016)
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(UGent) and (UGent)
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Abstract
In recent years, the automotive industry has witnessed a rapid increase in model variety and customization. New models, which are mainly being introduced in response to consumers demand, feature long lists of choices in terms of variants (engine model, comfort level, colour palette, etc.) and options (entertainment system, start/stop functionality, etc.). This high variability increases the complexity of factory processes and workstations and thus impacts directly upon the complexity of the manufacturing system as a whole. The shift from mass production to mass customized production is a trend that looks likely to continue in the foreseeable future, driven by automotive manufacturers' struggle to maintain market share in their traditional markets and seize market share in new, fast-growing markets. To cope with this intensified customization, automotive assembly platforms are designed to be capable of assembling a large range of relatively different models. That is they become mixed-model assembly lines. This implies that a high variety of tasks are to be performed at each workstation. As a consequence, the manufacturing complexity at these workstations increases. Mixed-model assembly lines are flow-line production systems that typically encounter the assembly line balancing problem (ALBP), a combinatorial optimization problem involving the optimal partitioning of assembly work among the workstations with a particular objective in mind. Subsequently, solving mixed-model assembly line balancing problems (MMALBPs) is much more complex than single-model cases, as workload must be smoothed for all workstations and all models in order to avoid overload or idle time. Despite the recent focus on manufacturing complexity and the extensive study of the ALBP, little research has explored how complexity can be applied to optimize line efficiency. Manufacturing complexity has been a key concern of many researchers and manufacturers in recent years, however, practical procedures to level complexity have not yet been considered and investigated when balancing the assembly lines. Analysing, measuring and monitoring complexity while creating line balancing solutions is a new and unexplored topic, especially when using real industry scenarios. In this dissertation, we propose an approach that can be used to monitor manufacturing complexity at each workstation while balancing the mixed-model assembly lines. The research carried out relies on an investigation of real MMAL's aiming to develop a deep analysis of complexity. The goal is to understand what and how complexity is generated, in order to cope and reduce the high complexity and its impacts in the line. During several visits and workshops carried out in collaboration with manufactures, we could observe that work load distribution is directly related with models variety, as tasks' time might differ from model to model. We first explored the existing scientific literature on the mixed-model assembly line balancing problem and manufacturing complexity in Chapter 2. Then, manufacturing complexity is investigated using two approaches: (1) an empirical analysis approach based on data collected in the Field and (2) a quantitative analysis approach measuring the level of uncertainty by means of entropy.
Keywords
Mixed-Model Assembly Lines, Manufacturing Complexity

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MLA
Zeltzer, Luiza. Analysing and Levelling Manufacturing Complexity in Mixed-Model Assembly Lines. Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, 2016.
APA
Zeltzer, L. (2016). Analysing and levelling manufacturing complexity in mixed-model assembly lines. Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Zeltzer, Luiza. 2016. “Analysing and Levelling Manufacturing Complexity in Mixed-Model Assembly Lines.” Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Zeltzer, Luiza. 2016. “Analysing and Levelling Manufacturing Complexity in Mixed-Model Assembly Lines.” Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.
Vancouver
1.
Zeltzer L. Analysing and levelling manufacturing complexity in mixed-model assembly lines. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture; 2016.
IEEE
[1]
L. Zeltzer, “Analysing and levelling manufacturing complexity in mixed-model assembly lines,” Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Ghent, Belgium, 2016.
@phdthesis{7104835,
  abstract     = {{In recent years, the automotive industry has witnessed a rapid increase in model variety and customization. New models, which are mainly being introduced in response to consumers demand, feature long lists of choices in terms of variants (engine model, comfort level, colour palette, etc.) and options (entertainment system, start/stop functionality, etc.). This high variability increases the complexity of factory processes and workstations and thus impacts directly upon the complexity of the manufacturing system as a whole. The shift from mass production to mass customized production is a  trend that looks likely to continue in the foreseeable future, driven by automotive manufacturers' struggle to maintain market share in their traditional markets and seize market share in new, fast-growing markets. To cope with this intensified customization, automotive assembly platforms are designed to be capable of assembling a large range of relatively different models. That is they become mixed-model assembly lines. This implies that a high variety of tasks are to be performed at each workstation. As a consequence, the manufacturing complexity at these workstations increases.  
Mixed-model assembly lines are flow-line production systems that typically encounter the assembly line balancing problem (ALBP), a combinatorial optimization problem involving the optimal partitioning of assembly work among the workstations with a particular objective in mind. Subsequently, solving mixed-model assembly line balancing problems (MMALBPs) is much more complex than single-model cases, as workload must be smoothed for all workstations and all models in order to avoid overload or idle time. 
Despite the recent focus on manufacturing complexity and the extensive study of the ALBP, little research has explored how complexity can be applied to optimize line efficiency. Manufacturing complexity has been a key concern of many researchers and manufacturers in recent years, however, practical procedures to level complexity have not yet been considered and investigated when balancing the assembly lines. Analysing, measuring and  monitoring complexity while creating line balancing solutions is a new and unexplored topic, especially when using real industry scenarios. In this dissertation,  we propose an approach that can be used to monitor manufacturing complexity at each workstation while balancing the mixed-model assembly lines.
The research carried out relies on an investigation of real MMAL's aiming to develop a deep analysis of complexity. The goal is to understand what and how complexity is generated, in order to cope and reduce the high complexity and its impacts in the line. During several visits and workshops carried out in collaboration with manufactures, we could observe that work load distribution is directly related with models variety, as tasks' time might differ from model to model. We first explored the existing scientific literature on the mixed-model assembly line balancing problem and manufacturing complexity in Chapter 2. Then,  manufacturing complexity is investigated using two approaches:  (1) an empirical analysis approach based on data collected in the Field and (2) a quantitative analysis approach measuring the level of uncertainty by means of entropy.}},
  author       = {{Zeltzer, Luiza}},
  isbn         = {{9789085788805}},
  keywords     = {{Mixed-Model Assembly Lines,Manufacturing Complexity}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{XXIV, 89 + annexes}},
  publisher    = {{Ghent University. Faculty of Engineering and Architecture}},
  school       = {{Ghent University}},
  title        = {{Analysing and levelling manufacturing complexity in mixed-model assembly lines}},
  year         = {{2016}},
}