The application of simulated annealing to the mixed model, deterministic assembly line balancing problem

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Virginia Tech


With the trend towards greater product customization and shorter delivery time, the use of mixed model assembly lines is increasing. A line balancing approach is needed that can address the complex nature of the mixed model line and produce near optimal solutions to problems of realistic size. Due to the combinatorial nature of the line balancing problem, exact solution techniques are limited to small problems. Heuristic methods, on the other hand, are often too simplistic to find good solutions. Furthermore, many of the existing techniques cannot be expanded to handle the mixed model problem.

Simulated Annealing (SA) is a search methodology which has exhibited good results when applied to combinatorial optimization problems. In fact, researchers have found that SA is able to find near-optimal solutions while its processing time increases only as a polynomial function of problem size. However, none of the applications found in the literature fully explore the technique's ability to handle a highly-constrained problem such as line balancing.