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Sequencing to Minimize Work Overload in Assembly Lines with Product Options



We address the problem of sequencing jobs, each of which is characterized by one of a large number of possible combinations of customer-specified options, on a paced assembly line. These problems arise frequently in the automotive industry. One job must be launched into the system at equal time intervals, where the time interval (or cycle time) is prespecified. The problem is to sequence the jobs to maximize the total amount of work completed, or equivalently, to minimize the total amount of incomplete work (or work overload). Since there is a large number of option combinations, each job is almost unique. This fact precludes the use of existing mixed model assembly line sequencing techniques. We first consider the sequencing problem for a single station which can perform two different sets of operations. We characterize the optimal solution for this problem and use the results as the basis for a heuristic procedure for multiple stations. Computational results with data from a major automobile company are reported.

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