Design of Material Flow Networks in Manufacturing Facilities
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In this paper we consider the design of material handling flow paths in a discrete parts manufacturing facility. A fixed-charge capacitated network design model is presented and two efficient heuristics are proposed to determine near-optimal solutions to the resulting NP- hard problem. The heuristics are tested against an implicit enumeration scheme used to obtain optimal solutions for small examples. For more realistic cases, the solutions of the heuristics are compared to lower bounds obtained by either the linear programming relaxation of the mixed integer program, or an iterative dual ascent algorithm. The results obtained indicate that the heuristics provide good solutions in reasonable time on the average. The proposed methodology is applied to design the flow paths of an existing manufacturing facility. The role of the flow path network problem in the integrated shop design is also discussed.