The issue of machine sharing arises quite frequently in the design and operation of automated manufacturing systems. It is often championed as a mechanism for enhancing the flexibility and versatility of these systems. However despite its importance, our understanding of machine sharing and of its effect on system performance has remained inadequate, relying mainly on anecdotal data or limited empirical evidence. In this paper, we present an analytical model that captures the various dimensions of machine sharing and use this model to study the effect of machine sharing on performance of manufacturing systems. In particular, we examine the relationship between machine sharing and several performance measures, such as production rate, machine utilization, flow time and work-in-process inventory, for varying assumptions of system utilization, setup times, batch sizes and demand and processing variability. These relationships are then used to identify conditions under which machine sharing is of value and to determine the corresponding optimal sharing levels.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
1 The author's research was in part supported by the United States National Science Foundation under grant No. DMII-9309631.
- Flexible manufacturing
- Machine sharing
- Manufacturing systems