Minimizing WIP inventory in reliable production lines
This work deals with the well-known buffer allocation problem in short reliable production lines. The objective is to find the optimal buffer allocation (OBA) that minimizes the average work-in-process (WIP) inventory, subject to a minimum required throughput. The study leads to some insights concerning the evolution of the throughput and WIP as a function of the ordered buffer allocations. In the case of balanced lines, it is observed that the so-called self-similarity phenomenon prevails. It is also pointed out that the choice of the throughput level is critical for finding the OBA that minimizes the average WIP. Also a heuristic algorithm is proposed to find the OBA, which reduces the search space by over 50% compared to enumeration. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.