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The fundamental problem of layout planning for assembly is to determine the minimum number of stations (workers) and assign tasks to each station so that a desired level of output is achieved.

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Defining the Layout Problem The fundamental problem of layout planning for assembly is to determine the minimum number of stations (workers) and assign tasks to each station so that a desired level of output is achieved. Notice several implications in this statement. First, the design focuses on achieving a desired level of productive capability.(output capacity). Second, if tasks are to be assigned to stations, the sequence of tasks must be considered. Which tasks must be done first, and which ones may follow? Finally, our concern is attaining desired output efficiently, without using unnecessary input resources. Capacity, Sequencing and Efficiency Let's illustrate these ideas with an example. A manufacturer is developing plans for a facility to make 320 aluminum storm windows. The desired minimum daily output capacity is 320 windows. Figure-I and Table-I show the tentative assembly line layout. The operations manager wants to know if this is a good design and if better designs are possible. A B C D E F G H Figure-I : Diagram for storm window assembly line Table - I: Initial assembly line layout for aluminum storm windows Work Station Preceding Work Station Task Assigned Task's Required Predecessor Task Time/Unit (in seconds) ...read more.


If the hourly wage is $10, each day $100 is paid for unnecessary idleness. Balancing the Line How can the cost of idleness be reduced? Perhaps the eight tasks (A to H in Table-I) can be reassigned so that more available employee time is used. Notice that if every station used up an equal amount of task time, no time would be idle time. The problem of equalizing stations in this way is called the line balancing problem, and solving it takes six steps: 1. Define tasks 2. Identify precedence requirements 3. Calculate minimum number of work stations required to produce desired output 4. Apply an assignment heuristic to assign tasks to each station 5. Evaluate effectiveness and efficiency 6. Seek further improvement For the example of the aluminum storm window facility, we have already taken the first step, defining tasks, shown in Table-I. The second step reminds us that tasks must be done in a specific sequence. Certainly the window units can not be packed until they are completely assembled. These sequence requirements are listed in Table-I under the heading Task's required Predecessor. Once the desired output is specified, we can calculate the theoretical minimum number of stations required, the third step in our solution. ...read more.


Table-IV: Assembly line design for 90-second cycle. Station 1 2 3 4 5 Effectiveness: 90 sec/unit, or 320 units/day Efficiency Tasks AD B CG EF H Time Available at Station (seconds/unit) 90 90 90 90 90 Total = 450 seconds Utilization (380/450) * 100 = 84.4 % Idleness (70/450) * 100 = 15.6 % Time Available at Station (seconds/unit) 90 80 90 70 50 Total = 380 seconds Time Available at Station (seconds/unit) 0 10 0 10 40 Total = 70 seconds At this stage, we may be able to improve the layout by trial and error, step 6 of our station. In addition many other heuristics may be used instead of LOT approach. Several computerized heuristics are available, and since different heuristics can lead to different layouts, managers may want to try more than one approach. There are occasions when effectiveness and efficiency can be increased by deviating from the procedure we have presented. Task sharing, for example, occurs when there are three stations manned by workers, all of whom are sometimes idle. We can reduce idleness by eliminating one worker, and letting the other two take turns doing the task at the third station. Other improvements are possible if more than one worker can be assigned to a single station. Finally, if the desired output exceeds capacity, bottlenecks may be reexamined. ...read more.

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