The interface of buffer design and cyclic scheduling decisions in deterministic flow lines
Annals of Operations Research
295 - 317
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In this paper, we address some issues on the interface of buffer design and cyclic scheduling decisions in a multi-product deterministic flow line. We demonstrate the importance of the above interface for the throughput performance of the flow line. In particular, we point out that the use of sequence-independent information, such as workload distribution and variability in processing times among stations, is not adequate to decide the optimal buffer configuration of the flow line. We formulate the buffer design problem for a fixed sequence of jobs as a general resource allocation problem, and suggest two effective heuristics for its solution. For the simultaneous buffer design and cyclic scheduling problem, we suggest an iterative scheme that builds on the effectiveness of the above heuristics. One of the side results of our extensive computational studies on this problem is that the general guidelines of buffer design in single-product flow lines with stochastic processing times are not directly transferable to the multiproduct deterministic flow line environment.