Delayed Product Differentiation (DPD) can reduce the manufacturing complexities arising due to the proliferation of products variety. A new optimization model constructs the optimum layout of delayed differentiation assembly lines for a mix of products to be manufactured by the same system and optimizes the position of the differentiation points. This model employs a classification tool (Cladistics) used in biological analysis and modifies it for use in planning DPD assembly lines configurations in order to incorporate the assembly precedence constraints, required production rates of different product variants and existing production capacity of work stations. The optimum layout configuration ensures that the quantities required of different products are produced on the same line; while achieving balance, minimizing duplication of stations and maximizing the overall system utilization. The developed model has been applied to a group of automobile engine accessories normally assembled on different lines. The use of Cladistics to analyze product variants that are candidates for delayed assembly is an original approach for designing the assembly line layout and identifying the best differentiation points. It also helps rationalize the design of product variants and their features to further delay their assembly differentiation and achieve economy of scale without affecting their functionality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Tarek AlGeddawy graduated in Production and Mechanical engineering in 1999 from Cairo University, Egypt, where he also received the M.Sc. degree in Industrial engineering in 2004. He joined the Intelligent Manufacturing systems Centre (IMSC) as a Ph.D. candidate in 2006, at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. In 2008, he received a 3-years post-graduate research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). His research activities are focused on management of products variety/change and synthesis of manufacturing systems. He published 6 journal and 10 conference papers.
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- Delayed differentiation
- Product variants