The authors propose an algorithm for the reorganization of a production department in cells, starting from a situation of job shop, chasing the main goal of group technology (GT)—that is, to gather pieces with similar technological cycles and to associate every group of items (family) to a group of machines (cell) able to realize all the necessary activities. To get this result, a behavioral pattern has been developed, having its origin in the ants’ way of sorting food, larva, and pupa in an anthill. As first results have shown, such an approach turns out to be interesting, provided that the algorithm parameters are adequately set.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Similarity Coefficient: Coefficient measuring the number of common items for a couple of machines, adopted in several methods of cell formation.
Technologist Ants: Agents with the aim to optimize the match between cell capability and the technological requirements determined by the associated product families.
Cell Formation: Activity consisting of the definition of families of parts to be manufactured and groups of machines of the system by which these parts must be processed.
Group Technology: Manufacturing philosophy helping to manage diversity by identifying similarities in products and activities (carrying out similar activities, standardizing similar assignments, filing and tracking down in an efficient way information regarding recurrent problems).
Heuristic Approach: Methodology proposed to the resolution of a problem aimed at finding an acceptable solution, but in general not able to identify the optimal one.
Productive Ants: Agents with the aim to optimize the match between cell capacity and the load generated by the associated product families.
Ant Algorithm: Solution algorithm based on the simulation of self-organized colony of biologic ants according to the principles of the ant system paradigm, aimed at solving different types of problems within a reasonable amount of time.
Cellular Manufacturing System: Productive system composed of cells, including resources able to process specific groups of items.