Comparison of Connected vs. Disconnected Cellular Systems: A Case Study

Comparison of Connected vs. Disconnected Cellular Systems: A Case Study

Gürsel A. Süer (Ohio University, USA) and Royston Lobo (S.S. White Technologies Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-047-7.ch003
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In this chapter, two cellular manufacturing systems, namely connected cells and disconnected cells, have been studied, and their performance was compared with respect to average flowtime and work-in-process inventory under make-to-order demand strategy. The study was performed in a medical device manufacturing company considering their a) existing system b) variations from the existing system by considering different process routings. Simulation models for each of the systems and each of the options were developed in ARENA 7.0 simulation software. The data used to model each of these systems were obtained from the company based on a period of nineteen months. Considering the existing system, no dominance was established between connected cells vs. disconnected cells as mixed results were obtained for different families. On the other hand, when different process routings were used, connected system outperformed the disconnected system. It is suspected that one additional operation required in the disconnected system as well batching requirement at the end of packaging led to poor performance for the disconnected cells. Finally, increased routing flexibility improved the performance of the connected cells, whereas it had adverse effects in the disconnected cells configuration.
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The connected cells represent a continuous flow where the products enter the cells in the manufacturing area, complete the machining operations and exit through the corresponding assembly and packaging area after completion of the assembly and packaging operations. In other words, the output of a cell in the manufacturing area becomes the input to the corresponding cell in the assembly and packaging area. The biggest advantage of connected cells is that material flow is smoother and hence flowtime is expected to be shorter. This is also expected to result in lower WIP inventory. This paper focuses on a cellular manufacturing system similar to the system shown in Figure 1. There are three cells in the manufacturing area and three cells in the assembly and packaging area. In these cells, M1 through M3 represent the machines in the manufacturing area, A1, A2 and P1 through P3 represent the machines in the assembly and packaging area. The products essentially follow a unidirectional flow. The three cells in manufacturing area are similar since they have similar machines and all the products can be manufactured in any of the cells. However, the situation gets complicated in the assembly and packaging area. The three cells have restrictions in terms of the products that they can process. Therefore, deciding which manufacturing cell a product should be assigned is dictated by the packaging cell(s) it can be processed later on. This constraint makes the manufacturing system less flexible.

Figure 1.

Connected cells


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