A Nested Configuration of POLCA and Generic Kanban in a High Product Mix Manufacturing System
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology. 2017, 513 518-526. 10.1007/978-3-319-66923-6_61
The work presented in this paper is part of a project aimed at streamlining and improving the process flow at a leather furniture manufacturing company. The manufacturing throughput time is highly variable, and this makes planning difficult for the assembly of components at the downstream stages. Throughput time predictability at the upstream stages where the components are manufactured would facilitate the planning of their assembly according to their expected arrival times for specific product models. Research conducted in a previous phase of the project showed that the application of the CONstant Work In Progress (CONWIP) control mechanism to regulate inventory yielded significant improvements in the throughput time’s mean and variation. However, as it is the case with tighter control of inventory in manufacturing, previously unrealised problems were exposed in relation to the selection of the product model to release into the CONWIP loop. This has significant impact on the balance of the distribution of workload across the system’s workstations and among the multi-skilled teams at one of the workstations. This research implements a nested configuration of the Paired-cell Overlapping Loop Of Cards with Authorisation (POLCA) and the Generic Kanban control mechanisms to achieve a balance of the workloads. This ensures a synchronised flow of the different product mix through the entire manufacturing system.