A heuristic algorithm for the buffer allocation in unreliable unbalanced production lines
In this work we investigate the buffer allocation problem (BAP) in short unbalanced production lines consisting of up to six machines that are subject to breakdowns. Times to failure are assumed exponential whereas service and repair times are allowed to follow any Erlang-k distribution (with k greater than or equal to 1). An algorithm that is based on the sectioning (segmentation) approach was developed which solves the BAP. This, in conjunction with a method not previously reported that determines a "good" initial solution for the buffer allocation constitutes the main contribution of the present work. The accuracy of the proposed heuristic algorithm is remarkably good and its convergence is fast making it a promising tool that can be implemented in conjunction with a fast decomposition method to solve the BAP in large production lines. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.