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Synchronous Unpaced Flow Lines with Worker Differences and Overtime Cost


  • Kenneth H. Doerr

    () (University of Miami, School of Business Administration, Department of Management, Coral Gables, Florida 33124)

  • Theodore D. Klastorin

    () (University of Washington School of Business, Department of Management Science, Box 353200, Seattle, Washington 98195-3200)

  • Michael J. Magazine

    () (University of Cincinnati School of Business Administration, Department of Quantitative Analysis and Operations Management, Cincinnati, Ohio 45221)


In this paper, we consider the design of a synchronous, unpaced flow line where workers operate at different skill levels and overtime is used, if necessary, to meet a daily production quota. The line is unpaced in the sense that items only move to the next workstation when all workers on the line have completed their respective tasks. The design problem in this case is to assign both workers and tasks to workstations to minimize the expected sum of regular and overtime costs. To solve this problem, we develop an optimization algorithm for smaller problems and a heuristic algorithm for larger problems, which we use to investigate the sensitivity of total expected cost to changes in the price of overtime, hiring practices, worker differences, and the overall amount of work time variability. Based on an extensive computational analysis, we found that (1) planned overtime is frequently beneficial, (2) more workers should be hired as worker variability increases, and (3) increases in overtime costs frequently yield a relatively lower percentage increase in total expected cost. Other managerial implications are discussed in the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth H. Doerr & Theodore D. Klastorin & Michael J. Magazine, 2000. "Synchronous Unpaced Flow Lines with Worker Differences and Overtime Cost," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(3), pages 421-435, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:46:y:2000:i:3:p:421-435

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. F. Brian Talbot & James H. Patterson, 1984. "An Integer Programming Algorithm with Network Cuts for Solving the Assembly Line Balancing Problem," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(1), pages 85-99, January.
    2. Robert L. Carraway, 1989. "A Dynamic Programming Approach to Stochastic Assembly Line Balancing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(4), pages 459-471, April.
    3. Emmanuel Fernández-Gaucherand & Sanjay Jain & Hau L. Lee & Ambar G. Rao & M. R. Rao, 1995. "Improving Productivity by Periodic Performance Evaluation: A Bayesian Stochastic Model," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(10), pages 1669-1678, October.
    4. Anthony A. Mastor, 1970. "An Experimental Investigation and Comparative Evaluation of Production Line Balancing Techniques," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(11), pages 728-746, July.
    5. Fred N. Silverman & John C. Carter, 1986. "A Cost-Based Methodology for Stochastic Line Balancing with Intermittent Line Stoppages," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(4), pages 455-463, April.
    6. James R. Jackson, 1956. "A Computing Procedure for a Line Balancing Problem," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(3), pages 261-271, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiang, Wen-Chyuan & Urban, Timothy L., 2006. "The stochastic U-line balancing problem: A heuristic procedure," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 175(3), pages 1767-1781, December.
    2. Urban, Timothy L. & Chiang, Wen-Chyuan, 2006. "An optimal piecewise-linear program for the U-line balancing problem with stochastic task times," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 168(3), pages 771-782, February.
    3. repec:eee:jomega:v:72:y:2017:i:c:p:15-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:jsched:v:20:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10951-016-0490-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Urban, Timothy L. & Chiang, Wen-Chyuan, 2016. "Designing energy-efficient serial production lines: The unpaced synchronous line-balancing problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 248(3), pages 789-801.


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