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Optimally Balancing Large Assembly Lines with "Fable"


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  • Roger V. Johnson

    (School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109)

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    A new algorithm for optimally balancing assembly lines is formulated and tested. Named "FABLE," it obtains proven optimal solutions for ten 1000 task lines, which each possess the computationally favorable conditions of an average of at least 6 tasks per work station and a small number of between-task precedence requirements, in less than 20 seconds of IBM 3033U CPU time for each problem. FABLE also performs very favorably on a benchmark group of 64 test problems drawn from the literature, which are of up to 111 tasks each. FABLE finds and proves an optimal solution to the 64 problems in a total of 3.16 seconds of IBM 3090 CPU time. FABLE is a `laser' type, depth-first, branch-and-bound algorithm, with logic designed for very fast achievement of feasibility, ensuring a feasible solution to any line of 1000 or even more tasks. It utilizes new and existing dominance rules and bound arguments. A total of 549 problems of various characteristics are solved to determine conditions under which FABLE performs most and least favorably. Performance is sensitive to average number of tasks per work station, number of between-task precedence requirements (measured by `order strength'), and the total number of tasks per problem. A heuristic variant of FABLE is also described.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 34 (1988)
    Issue (Month): 2 (February)
    Pages: 240-253

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:2:p:240-253

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    Related research

    Keywords: production/scheduling: line balancing; networks/graphs: tree algorithms; dynamic programming;


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    Cited by:
    1. Armin Scholl & Malte Fliedner & Nils Boysen, 2008. "Absalom: Balancing assembly lines with assignment restrictions," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers 02/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.
    2. Morrison, David R. & Sewell, Edward C. & Jacobson, Sheldon H., 2014. "An application of the branch, bound, and remember algorithm to a new simple assembly line balancing dataset," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 236(2), pages 403-409.
    3. Miltenburg, John, 1998. "Balancing U-lines in a multiple U-line facility," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 1-23, August.
    4. Vilà, Mariona & Pereira, Jordi, 2013. "An enumeration procedure for the assembly line balancing problem based on branching by non-decreasing idle time," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 229(1), pages 106-113.
    5. Christian Becker & Armin Scholl, 2008. "Balancing assembly lines with variable parallel workplaces: Problem definition, model and exact solution procedure," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers 06/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.
    6. Scholl, Armin & Becker, Christian, 2006. "State-of-the-art exact and heuristic solution procedures for simple assembly line balancing," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 168(3), pages 666-693, February.
    7. Fatih Ugurdag, H. & Rachamadugu, Ram & Papachristou, Christos A., 1997. "Designing paced assembly lines with fixed number of stations," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 488-501, November.
    8. Armin Scholl & Christian Becker, 2003. "A note on "An exact method for cost-oriented assembly line balancing"," Jenaer Schriften zur Wirtschaftswissenschaft 22/2003, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    9. Bautista, Joaquín & Pereira, Jordi, 2011. "Procedures for the Time and Space constrained Assembly Line Balancing Problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 212(3), pages 473-481, August.
    10. Battaïa, Olga & Dolgui, Alexandre, 2013. "A taxonomy of line balancing problems and their solutionapproaches," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 259-277.
    11. Matthias Amen, 2003. "An exact method for cost-oriented assembly line balancing," GE, Growth, Math methods 0309002, EconWPA, revised 09 Sep 2003.
    12. Fleszar, Krzysztof & Hindi, Khalil S., 2003. "An enumerative heuristic and reduction methods for the assembly line balancing problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 606-620, March.
    13. Scholl, Armin & Klein, Robert, 1999. "Balancing assembly lines effectively - A computational comparison," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 114(1), pages 50-58, April.
    14. Aase, Gerald R. & Olson, John R. & Schniederjans, Marc J., 2004. "U-shaped assembly line layouts and their impact on labor productivity: An experimental study," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 156(3), pages 698-711, August.


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