A Changeable, Reconfigurable and Agile Assembly System using Walking Workers

Q. Wang, S. Lassalle, G.W. Owen, and A.R. Mileham


Modeling, simulation, manufacturing systems, flexibility and walking workers


Many assembly plants are now being forced to develop or constantly improve their operating systems that are more efficient, flexible and reconfigurable in order to adjust the systems’ capability to accommodate the market turbulence in terms of production volume and product variants with small lot size, high quality and lower costs. One effective approach to achieve this is to create a changeable, multi-skilled and agile workforce consisting of cross-trained workers that can improve operational performances without significant additional investment in equipment and/or labor. This paper presents a study of a so-called linear walking worker assembly line that has been designed as a different type flexible assembly system where each worker travels along the line carrying out each assembly task at each station; and each worker completes the assembly of a product from start to end. The aim of the research work described in this paper is to evaluate and discuss the relevant impact on critical interactions and interrelationships between factors which significantly affect the overall system performance. In order to gain a better understanding of such a flexible assembly system, the research has been carried out using a combination of mathematical modeling and computer simulation approaches.

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