A framework for the design justification of material handling systems

James Stewart Noble, Purdue University


Modem manufacturing systems are complicated, dynamic, integrated combinations of people, information, materials and machines that must function as a whole to meet the required system objectives. Failure to fully understand the breadth of the manufacturing system design problem and then make appropriate decisions quickly makes it difficult to complete successfully in today's competitive markets. Material handling systems perform a key integrating function within a manufacturing system. However, typical approaches for material handling system design have isolated the analysis with respect to specific design objectives and material handling technologies. As a result, they are not considered concurrently or in an unified manner. The objectives of this research are twofold: first, to explore the integration of economic objectives in design generation (concurrent design for economics) versus typical design evaluation; second, to address the design of robust material handling systems, capable of supporting dynamic, product life-cycle induced manufacturing system objectives (integrated system design). The two objectives are approached through the development of a framework for the selection and specification of an integrated material handling systems that is justifiable from both a performance and economic perspective. Five issues were addressed in the development of the material handling design justification framework. First, an integrated design approach to the overall manufacturing system design problem was proposed. Second, a structure for conducting performance analysis of material handling systems was developed. Third, material handling cost models were developed to measure economic performance. Fourth, a procedure for utilizing integrated economic and performance criteria to guide the design process was developed. Fifth, the impact of various design factors on the selection and specification of material handling systems was explored. The resulting framework for the design justification of material handling systems utilizes a design procedure based upon a modified branch and bound concept which is guided by a marginal analysis based modification strategy. A prototype implementation of the design procedure was developed that involves the automatic generation of discrete optimization, capacity, queueing network, and simulation models. It is further enhanced by the application of various artificial intelligence (knowledge-based) methods. The application of the design justification procedure results in the development of a material handling system that is justifiable based upon both designer specified performance and economic criteria.




Tanchoco, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering

Off-Campus Purdue Users:
To access this dissertation, please log in to our
proxy server