Card-Based, Pull Control Strategies for a High Mix Manufacturing System

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Oladipupo Olaitan - Department of Production and Quality Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

The research discussed here provides new insights on the implementation of pull production control strategies in manufacturing systems that involve cross-trained teams. COnstant Work In Process (CONWIP) control strategy has been applied to streamline the flow of products through a case system that manufactures a high mix of product models.

Results obtained from simulation experiments with a model of the manufacturing system show that the performance of CONWIP can be improved by applying an item-release rule that is synchronised with the work rate of each of the cross-trained teams. The results show that, compared with the application of a First In First Out (FIFO) rule, this item-release rule shortens the system throughput time and improves the distribution of workload among the cross-trained teams.

The improvement it achieves with workload distribution among the teams helps eradicate the constant need for monitoring and re-distributing workload, as currently experienced by the case company. The item-release rule also increases the chances of items being processed by the most suitable team for them. Therefore, it minimises the quality and efficiency issues that might occur in situations whereby the cross-trained teams have varying levels of proficiency in processing the system’s different product models.

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