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The product rate variation problem and its relevance in real world mixed-model assembly lines


  • Boysen, Nils
  • Fliedner, Malte
  • Scholl, Armin


Production processes in a wide range of industries rely on modern mixed-model assembly systems, which allow an efficient manufacture of various models of a common base product on the same assembly line. In order to facilitate a just-in-time supply of materials, the literature proposes various sequencing problems under the term "level scheduling", which all aim at evenly smoothing the part consumption induced by the production sequence over time. Among these approaches, the popular product rate variation (PRV) problem is considered to be an appropriate approximate model, if either (i) all products require approximately the same number and mix of parts or (ii) part usages of all products are (almost completely) distinct. These statements are (iii) further specified by analytical findings, which prove the equivalence of product and material oriented level scheduling under certain conditions. These three prerequisites commonly cited in the literature when justifying the practical relevance of the PRV are evaluated by means of three simple computational experiments and are then discussed with regard to their relevance in practical settings. It is concluded that the PRV is in fact inappropriate for use in today's real world mixed-model assembly systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Boysen, Nils & Fliedner, Malte & Scholl, Armin, 2009. "The product rate variation problem and its relevance in real world mixed-model assembly lines," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 197(2), pages 818-824, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ejores:v:197:y:2009:i:2:p:818-824

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George Steiner & Scott Yeomans, 1993. "Level Schedules for Mixed-Model, Just-in-Time Processes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(6), pages 728-735, June.
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    5. Lebacque, Vassilissa & Jost, Vincent & Brauner, Nadia, 2007. "Simultaneous optimization of classical objectives in JIT scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 182(1), pages 29-39, October.
    6. Wieslaw Kubiak & George Steiner & Julian Scott Yeomans, 1997. "Optimal level schedules for mixed-model, multi-level just-in-time assembly systems," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 69(0), pages 241-259, January.
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    8. Roder, Axel & Tibken, Bernd, 2006. "A methodology for modeling inter-company supply chains and for evaluating a method of integrated product and process documentation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 169(3), pages 1010-1029, March.
    9. Li-Hui Tsai, 1995. "Mixed-Model Sequencing to Minimize Utility Work and the Risk of Conveyor Stoppage," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(3), pages 485-495, March.
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    11. Zhu, Jin & Ding, Fong-Yuen, 2000. "A transformed two-stage method for reducing the part-usage variation and a comparison of the product-level and part-level solutions in sequencing mixed-model assembly lines," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 127(1), pages 203-216, November.
    12. Boysen, Nils & Fliedner, Malte & Scholl, Armin, 2009. "Sequencing mixed-model assembly lines: Survey, classification and model critique," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 192(2), pages 349-373, January.
    13. Kubiak, Wieslaw, 1993. "Minimizing variation of production rates in just-in-time systems: A survey," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 259-271, May.
    14. Meyr, H., 2004. "Supply chain planning in the German automotive industry," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 36062, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).
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    Cited by:

    1. Malte Fliedner & Nils Boysen & Armin Scholl, 2008. "Solving symmetric mixed-model multi-level just-in-time scheduling problems," Jena Research Papers in Business and Economics - Working and Discussion Papers (Expired!) 18/2008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, School of Economics and Business Administration.


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