A METHODOLOGY FOR OPTIMAL ASSEMBLY LINE BALANCING
Except for complete enumeration, most existing assembly line balancing techniques do not guarantee minimum balance delays, if the cycle time represents a required minimum production rate. The objective of this work was to develop a methodology for directly determining that combination of cycle time and number of stations which minimizes balance delay, given ordering and cycle time restrictions. The developed methodology consists of five stages: Bounding, Heuristic, Re-bounding, Formulation, and Solution. The optimal solution may be found in the Heuristic, Re-bounding, or Solution stages. The first stage bounds the problem based on the input data. A heuristic is then utilized to generate a good feasible solution and to further bound the problem. In some cases this solution is optimal. If it is not optimal, a Mixed Integer Program (MIP) is then generated in the formulation stage exploiting the problem structure and the heuristic stage solution. The MIP formulation is one of the most efficient formulations developed to date. A decomposition method is presented for those cases where the MIP may be too large for the available MIP package.
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