Design and Reconfiguration of Manufacturing Systems in Agile Manufacturing Environments

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Virginia Tech

Agile manufacturing has become a topic of great interest over the past several years. The entire domain of modeling and analyzing different types of agile manufacturing environments and systems, however, remain largely unexplored. The objective of this research is to provide fundamental insight into how manufacturing systems should be designed and reconfigured over time in order to cope with different agile manufacturing environments. To achieve this objective, three approaches are developed and integrated into one simulation-based model. The first approach is used to model different agile manufacturing environments. The second approach is used to define various ways in which manufacturing systems can be designed and reconfigured (i.e., design/reconfiguration strategies). The third comprises the cost and objective functions used to measure system performance when different design/reconfiguration strategies are used in different agile manufacturing environments. Based upon the assumptions adopted during this thesis, the experimental work performed suggests that despite the fact that agility incurs high costs, agile manufacturing systems are indeed necessary for certain manufacturing environments in which product life cycles are short yet demand per product type is high. Therefore, it is important in certain manufacturing environments to focus on reconfiguration in short periods of time, even at the expense of higher reconfiguration costs.

Product Life-Cycle, Design/Reconfiguration Strategy, Agile Manufacturing