Date of Award

12-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Industrial Engineering

Advisor

Kurz, Mary E

Committee Member

Mayorga, Maria

Committee Member

Mears, Laine

Committee Member

Neyens, David

Abstract

The borders of the assembly line balancing problem, as classically drawn, are as clear as any other operations research topic in production planning, with well-defined sets of assumptions, parameters, and objective functions. In application, however, these borders are frequently transgressed. Many of these deviations are internal to the assembly line balancing problem itself, arising from any of a wide array of physical or technological features in modern assembly lines. Other issues are founded in the tight coupling of assembly line balancing with external production planning and management problems, as assembly lines are at the intersection of multiple related problems in job sequencing, part flow logistics, worker safety, and quality. The field of General Assembly Line Balancing is devoted to studying the class of adapted and extended solution techniques necessary in order to model these applied line balancing problems. In this dissertation a complex line balancing problem is presented based on the real production environment of our industrial partner, featuring several extensions for task-to-task relationships, station characteristics limiting assignment, and parallel worker zoning interactions. A constructive heuristic is developed along with two improvement heuristics, as well as an integer programming model for the same problem. An experiment is conducted testing each of these new solution methods upon a battery of testbed problems, measuring solution quality, runtime, and achievement of feasibility. Additionally, a new method for measuring a secondary horizontal line balancing objective is established, based on the options-mix paradigm rather than the customary model-mix paradigm.

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