A hierarchical model for control of flexible manufacturing systems

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Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMSs) are usually composed of general purpose machines with automatic tool changing capability and integrated material handling. The complexity of FMSs requires sophisticated control. In this paper we present a four-level control hierarchy and outline computationally feasible control algorithms for each level. The top level is concerned with the choice of part types and volumes to be assigned to the FMS over the next several months. The second level plans daily or shift production. Production levels are set and tools are allocated to machines so as to minimize holding and shortage costs. Various FMS environments are presented. The third level determines process routes for each part type in order to minimize material handling. Additional tools are loaded on machines when possible to maximize alternate routeing. Routes are then assigned to parts to minimize workload assignment, and these are used by level four for actual routeing, sequencing and material handling path control. The level three model is formulated as a linear program, and heuristics are used for level four. An example is provided to illustrate the completeness of the decision hierarchy and the relationships between levels. © 1994 Operational Research Society Ltd.

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Journal of the Operational Research Society