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Improving Performance in Cyclic Production Systems by Using Forced Variable Idle Setup Time


  • Subhashish Samaddar

    () (Decision Sciences and Operations Management, Department of Managerial Sciences, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303)

  • Thomas Whalen

    () (Decision Sciences and Operations Management, Department of Managerial Sciences, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303)


In the early 1990s, research began to show that the Japanese production theory, which espouses reduction of machine setup time as a sure way to improve production performance, may be limited. Specifically, it was found that reduction in mean setup times without any change in variance can, paradoxically, increase waiting time and work in process (WIP) in a cyclic production system. Setup time variance was demonstrated to play a central role because of the paradoxes it produced with the resulting harm to effective capacity. Subsequently, explicit formulas were derived for determining whether adding fixed forced idle time (but holding variance constant) would reduce waiting time and, if so, the optimal amount of idle time to add. However, research to date has offered little guidance to reduce setup time variance to improve waiting time. We show that a greater reduction is achievable by adding a variable idle time that is a nonincreasing function of setup time and thereby reduce the combined setup time variance. We provide explicit procedures for finding the optimal variable idle time as a function of setup time when the latter follows any finite discrete distribution. We also show how to implement our policy and show that our approach can improve waiting time even when other currently known approaches cannot.

Suggested Citation

  • Subhashish Samaddar & Thomas Whalen, 2008. "Improving Performance in Cyclic Production Systems by Using Forced Variable Idle Setup Time," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 10(2), pages 173-180, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormsom:v:10:y:2008:i:2:p:173-180

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert B. Cooper & Shun-Chen Niu & Mandyam M. Srinivasan, 1998. "When Does Forced Idle Time Improve Performance in Polling Models?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(8), pages 1079-1086, August.
    2. D. Sarkar & W. I. Zangwill, 1989. "Expected Waiting Time for Nonsymmetric Cyclic Queueing Systems---Exact Results and Applications," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(12), pages 1463-1474, December.
    3. Subhashish Samaddar & Tej Kaul, 1995. "Effects of Setup and Processing Time Reductions on WIP in the JIT Production Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(7), pages 1263-1265, July.
    4. Debashish Sarkar & Willard I. Zangwill, 1991. "Variance Effects in Cyclic Production Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(4), pages 444-453, April.
    5. Izak Duenyas & Mark P. Van Oyen, 1996. "Heuristic Scheduling of Parallel Heterogeneous Queues with Set-Ups," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(6), pages 814-829, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jodlbauer, Herbert & Reitner, Sonja, 2012. "Optimizing service-level and relevant cost for a stochastic multi-item cyclic production system," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 306-317.


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