[ 215

]
Cel l ul ar decomposi t i on of manuf act uri ng f aci l i t i es
usi ng resource el ement s
Nabi l N.Z. Gi ndy
Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Operations Management,
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Tsvet an M. Rat chev
Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Operations Management,
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
©MCB University Press
[I SSN 0957-6061]
The decomposition of produc-
tion facilities into efficient
cells is one of the areas
attracting increasing
research attention due to the
performance benefits which
cellular manufacturing offers.
One of the problems associ-
ated with cell formation is the
restrictive character of the
existing task formalization
models resulting in most
cases from the use of single
machine tool routeings in
representing the component
requirements. In contrast, the
industrial reality provides a
more complex picture with
multiple choice of processing
routeings in terms of avail-
able machine alternatives
which need to be considered
in order to achieve an “opti-
mum” cellular decomposition
of manufacturing facilities.
Presents a facility decomposi-
tion approach based on
multiple choice of processing
alternatives for each compo-
nent. The decision making is
based on a generic descrip-
tion of the component pro-
cessing routeings using
unique machine capability
patterns - “resource ele-
ments”. Manufacturing cells
are formed using concurrent
fuzzy clustering methodology
and a validation procedure
for selection of the “opti-
mum” facility partition.
Int roduct i on
A fundamental i ssue i n cellular manufactur-
i ng i s the deter mi nati on of machi ni ng cells
whi ch are created by decomposi ng the manu-
facturi ng systems i nto relatively autonomous
sub-systems each one desi gned to produce a
fami ly of components. Adopti on of the cellu-
lar producti on concept i n most cases results
i n reduced producti on lead ti me, work-i n-
progress, labour, tooli ng, rework and scrap
materi als, set-up ti me, and paper work[1]. A
number of methodologi es have been devel-
oped i n order to faci li tate the process of cell
deter mi nati on[2,3]. These i nclude classi fica-
ti on and codi ng, producti on flow analysi s,
cluster analysi s, mathemati cal
programmi ng, syntacti c patter n recogni ti on,
fuzzy logi c, neural networks, etc.
The majori ty of the cell for mati on
approaches are based on pre-deter mi ned
component-machi ne routei ngs denoted by
sequences of machi nes vi si ted by each com-
ponent. Such strong affi li ati on of components
and machi nes pri or to cell for mati on has
several di sadvantages:
• Component routei ngs are usually developed
i n a job-shop envi ronment and the selected
machi nes may not be the most appropri ate
for cellular manufacturi ng.
• Because the component routei ngs are
deci ded i n advance the avai lable machi ne
alter natives are not taken i nto account i n
cell deter mi nati on, thus restri cti ng the
deci si on-maki ng domai n to a set of pre-
selected machi ne tools.
• The fixed processi ng routei ngs constrai n
the cell for mati on process i n cases where
components and/ or machi nes have no obvi -
ous li neages to speci fic groups/ cells.
The unsati sfactory perfor mance of the meth-
ods usi ng fixed routei ng i nfor mati on under-
li nes the need for approaches whi ch can
accommodate multi ple routei ng i nfor mati on
[4]. There are two basi c approaches to cell
for mati on usi ng multi ple routei ngs. The first
approach uses multi ple component routes as
i nput and consi ders all possi ble machi ne
alter natives i n cell deter mi nati on[5,6]. There
i s a hi gh computati onal complexi ty associ -
ated wi th such an approach and i t nor mally
requi res mathemati cal programmi ng, whi ch
i n cases of large component sets may prove to
be i mpracti cal.
The second approach i s based on defini ti on
of component groups usi ng si ngle machi ni ng
operati on based routes[7,8] followed by selec-
ti on of machi ne alter natives for each group.
Although practi cal and effi ci ent, such an
approach has a weakness i n defini ng compo-
nent groups wi thout relati ng them to the
machi ni ng equi pment. Component groupi ng
based on operati ons does not reflect the phys-
i cal di stri buti on of the operati ons between
di fferent machi nes and, hence, i t may lead to
defici ent machi ni ng cells i n ter ms of types of
machi nes and thei r uti li zati on.
The paper presents a cell formation method-
ology utilizing multiple component routeings.
The decision-making process is based on
generic representation of component route-
ings using “resource elements” instead of
machine tools / operations to describe the
distribution of processing capabilities
uniquely in the machining facility. Component
groups and machining cells are defined using
a concurrent fuzzy clustering procedure[9,10]
with resource elements acting as basic group-
ing primitives. A cluster validation measure
[11] guarantees the selection of an “optimum”
facility decomposition. The information data
model is presented in the next section; follow-
ing this the clustering procedure for cell deter-
mination is described, then the experimental
results are discussed and the conclusions are
provided in the final section.
Inf ormat i on dat a model f or cel l
det ermi nat i on
I n cellular manufacturi ng machi ni ng faci li -
ti es are decomposed i nto cells each dedi cated
to a speci fic part (product) fami ly. Achi evi ng
the full benefits of cellular manufacturi ng
depends on a close match between the pro-
cessi ng requi rements of the part fami li es and
the processi ng capabi li ti es of the manufactur-
i ng cells. The components i n each group also
need to be closely related i n ter ms of si mi lar
processi ng requi rements so that the machi n-
i ng resources dedi cated to the group can be
more effectively uti li zed.
[ 216 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
Process capabi li ty representati on plays a
key role i n defini ng the processi ng requi re-
ments of the components and matchi ng them
to the machi ne capabi li ti es i n cell for mati on.
Two levels of process capabi li ty representa-
ti on are consi dered: generi c level where
processes are descri bed i ndependently from
the machi ni ng equi pment on whi ch they may
be executed; faci li ty level where process capa-
bi li ty i s descri bed i n the context of a speci fic
machi ni ng faci li ty. The ter m “machi ni ng
faci li ty” i s used to descri be the collecti on of
all machi ne tools avai lable for consi derati on
i n the cell deter mi nati on task.
Form generat i ng schemas
At the generi c level process knowledge i s
descri bed by for m generati ng schemas[12]. A
for m generati ng schema (FGS) i s a technolog-
i cally meani ngful combi nati on of a tool of
speci fic geometry, a set of relative moti ons
between a part and the tool, and nomi nal
levels of technologi cal output that can be
associ ated wi th usi ng that combi nati on of
tool and relative moti ons (see Fi gure 1). For m
generati ng schemas are not related to a spe-
ci fic machi ne, but can be used to provi de a
generali zed descri pti on of a machi ne tool
capabi li ti es and relate them to component
processi ng requi rements.
The overall for m generati ng capabi li ti es of
a machi ni ng faci li ty can be generi cally
descri bed by the vector:
F ≡ f
1
, f
2
, …, f
h
(1)
where f
i
(i = 1, 2, …, h) are i ndivi dual for m
generati ng schemes, and F i s the full set of
for m generati ng schemas.
The capabi li ty of each i ndivi dual machi ne
tool M
k
can, therefore, be represented as a
vector i ndi cati ng the set of for m generati ng
schemas whi ch the machi ne tool can per-
for m:
M
k
= m
1k
, m
2k
, …, m
hk
, M
k
ε M (2)
where
m
ik
= {
1, i f FGS fk belongs machi ne k,
(3)
0, i f FGS fk does belong machi nek
Resource el ement s
At a machi ni ng faci li ty level the process capa-
bi li ty knowledge i s represented by resource
elements (RE). REs are collecti ons of for m
generati ng schemes whi ch define uni quely
the exclusive machi ne tool capabi li ty bound-
ari es and the shared boundari es between the
machi ne tools i n a machi ni ng faci li ty (see
Fi gure 2).
Resource elements are machi ni ng faci li ty
speci fic and capture i nfor mati on relati ng to
the di stri buti on (commonali ty and uni que-
ness) of for m generati ng schemes among the
machi ne tools i ncluded i n the machi ni ng
faci li ty. Although an RE may be attached to
several machi ne tools, a for m generati ng
schema can belong only to one RE and each
machi ne tool has to be capable of carryi ng out
all the for m generati ng schemes of the REs
associ ated wi th i t.
Resource elements R
i
are for mally defined
as
1. R
i
∪R
j
≡ 0, V
- R
i
, R
j
ε ℜ
(4)
2. f
k
ε Ri ⇔f
k
∉ R
j
, ε ℜ
where ℜi s the overall capabi li ty of the
machi ni ng faci li ty and f
k
i s a FGS, part of the
capabi li ty of the machi ni ng faci li ty[12].
The set of resource elements descri bi ng the
capabi li ty of a machi ni ng faci li ty are defined
usi ng i terative clusteri ng procedure. Each
resource element can be consi dered as a
group of for m generati ng schemas whi ch
appear joi ntly i n each machi ne wi th the same
degree of membershi p:
I F V
-
M
k
εM : m
pk
= m
qk
,
THEN cluster f
p
f
q
together (5)
i .e. for m generati ng schemas ei ther appear
always together i n each machi ne tool or nei -
ther of them i s present. The procedure starts
by clusteri ng each two for m generati ng
schemas i n F whi ch sati sfy condi ti on (5)
Fi gure 1
Form generating schema (face milling)
[ 217 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
i ncreasi ng the si ze of the clusters unti l all
possi ble combi nati ons of for m generati ng
schemas are consi dered. The result i s a fini te
set of resource elements descri bi ng the
machi ni ng faci li ty. Each resource element i s
represented by the vector:
R
k
= r
1k
, r
2k
, …, r
hk
(6)
where the co-ordi nates r
ik
of R
k
are defined as:
r
ik
= { 1, i f f
i
i s a part of resource element R
k
0, i f f
i
i s not a part of resource
element r
k
The uni queness of the resource elements i s
descri bed by the followi ng equati on:
N

k=1
r
ik
= 1, v
-
i = 1, 2, …n, (7)
where n i s the overall number of resource
elements. Equati on (7) shows that each for m
generati ng scheme f
i
i n F belongs to only one
RE and that there i s no overlappi ng between
the RE; hence i f the deci si on-maki ng process
i s based on REs then there are no alter na-
tives to be consi dered at thi s level of for mal-
i zati on of the capabi li ti es of a machi ni ng
faci li ty[13].
The break-up of the machi ni ng faci li ty i nto
resource elements i s summari zed by the
followi ng algori thm:
1 Step 1. Define the capabi li ty of each
machi ne tool usi ng FGS.
2 Step 2. Select FGS f
i
.
3 Step 3. Select f
j
(j ≠ i).
4 Step 4. I f m
ik
= m
jk
for each machi ne M
k
(k = 1, 2, …, m) then cluster together f
i
and
f
j
.
5 Step 5. Repeat steps 2,3 and 4 for all i, j = 1,
2, …, n.
6 Step 6. Define each cluster of FGS as a RE.
7 Step 7. Usi ng the set of REs, represent each
machi ne by i ts REs.
Component dat a model
The descri pti on of the processi ng capabi li ti es
of a machi ni ng faci li ty i n ter ms of resource
elements provi des a basi s for faci li ty speci fic
defini ti on of the component processi ng
requi rements. Components can be repre-
sented by uni que sets of resource elements
li nki ng them to sets of possi ble machi ne
alter natives wi thout pre-selecti ng any of the
machi ne tools.
The component set i s for mally defined i n
the Eucli dean space C. Each component i s
descri bed as an element i n C wi th co-ordi -
nates representi ng the processi ng requi re-
ments i n ter ms of resource elements. Compo-
nents are represented by vectors
C
k
= c
1
k, c
2k
, …, c
nk
(8)
where c
ik
(i = 1, 2, …, n; k = 1, 2, …, c) i ndi cates
the relati onshi p between component C
k
and
resource element R
i
as:
c
ik
={
1, i f component C
k
requi res RE R
i
,
0, i f component C
k
does not
requi re RE R
i
(9)
Fi gure 2
Resource element definition
[ 218 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
Cel l format i on met hodol ogy
As a result of the break-up of the capabi li ty
of the machi ni ng faci li ty i nto resource
elements, the groupi ng task i s transfor med
i nto “opti mum” parti ti oni ng of the
component set and the machi ni ng faci li ty
by usi ng resource elements to represent
both the component processi ng requi re-
ments and the capabi li ti es of the machi ni ng
faci li ty.
The parti ti oni ng of the component set and
the machi ni ng faci li ty are carri ed out con-
currently usi ng an i terative clusteri ng
approach. At the fi rst i terati on the compo-
nents are clustered to produce capabi li ty
patter ns whi ch defi ne the boundari es of the
machi ni ng cells i n ter ms of resource ele-
ments. At the second i terati on the resource
elements belongi ng to each cell are trans-
lated i nto physi cal machi ne tools (see Fi gure
3). The procedure conti nues unti l an “opti -
mum” parti ti on of the machi ni ng
faci li ty/ component set i s reached.
Component cl ust eri ng procedure
The cell for mati on approach i s based on the
divi sive fuzzy C-means (FCM) clusteri ng
algori thm[14]. The FCM algori thm i ncludes
the followi ng three i terative clusteri ng
steps:
1 I ni ti ali ze the membershi p functi on µ
ij
, of
component C
i
to group G
j
such that:
c

i=1
µ
ij
= 1 (10)
2 Compute the fuzzy groupi ng centroi ds G
i
for i = 1,2, …, gdefined as wei ghted sums of
all data poi nts i n the set
where n i s the total number of components
and f > 1 i s a fuzzi ness i ndex[14].
3 Update the fuzzy membershi ps µ
ij
usi ng:
where e
2
(C
i
, G
j
) i s the Eucli dean metri c
nor m[14].
The three steps are repeated unti l a stable
component/ machi ne parti ti on i s achi eved for
each parti cular number of component
groups/ machi ni ng cells.
Val i dat i on of component cl ust ers
The “best” faci li ty parti ti on i s selected usi ng
a cluster vali dati on measure. One of the
i mportant i ndi cators for effi ci ent cellular
manufacturi ng i s the break-up of the machi n-
i ng faci li ty i nto “product” based cells of di s-
si mi lar producti on equi pment[15]. Therefore,
the vali di ty measure used for parti ti oni ng the
component set i nto groups and the machi ni ng
faci li ty i nto cells needs to be defined i n such a
way as to ensure the for mati on of component
groups wi th maxi mum si mi lari ty between
the component processi ng requi rements and
machi ni ng cells wi th maxi mum diversi ty, i .e.
mi ni mum overlappi ng i n ter ms of the
repeated machi nes between cells.
I n the context of the cell deter mi nati on
task, the vali dati on cri teri a can be for mali zed
as (see Fi gure 4):
• maxi mum compactness of the machi ni ng
cells i n ter ms of capabi li ty;
• maxi mum compactness of the component
groups i n ter ms of processi ng
requi rements;
• mi ni mum overlappi ng of the component
groups i n ter ms of processi ng
requi rements;
• mi ni mum overlappi ng of the machi ni ng
cells i n ter ms of capabi li ty.
A cluster vali di ty measure proposed i n [10] i s
closely related to the above cell for mati on
cri teri a, owi ng to i ts capabi li ty to assess the
cluster tendency i n ter ms of both compact-
ness of component groups and di fferenti ati on
between the clusteri ng centroi ds. Therefore,
i t can be used as a vali di ty measure to i ndi -
cate the “opti mum” parti ti on of the machi n-
i ng faci li ty.
The vali di ty measure i s defined as rati o of
the overall “compactness ” of the parti ti on π
to the “separati on” between the cluster s:
s=
I I

s
The overall compactness of the parti ti on i s
defined as:
Π =
1

g
q

j=1
Π
j
(13)
where Π
i
= (σ
i
/ n
i
) i s the average devi ati on of
component group G
i
andgi s the total number
of groups[10].
The cluster separati on measure s, i ndi cat-
i ng the level of overlappi ng between the clus-
ters, i s defined as the mi ni mum di stance
between any two clusters of the parti ti on:
s = mi n
ij
(b
ij
)
2
(14)
where b
ij
= e(G
i
,G
j
) i s the Eucli dean di stance
between group centroi ds G
i
and G
j
.
The vali dati on measure i s used for selec-
ti on of the “opti mum” faci li ty parti ti on.
Mi ni mum vali di ty measure S i ndi cates
µ
ij
j i
f
j i
f
i
c
e C G
e c G
=
















=

1
1
12
2
1
1
2
1
1
1
( , )
( , )
( )
( –)
( –)
G
C
i
ij
f
j
j
n
ij
f
j
n
=
=
=


( )
( )
( )
µ
µ
1
1
11
[ 219 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
“opti mum” parti ti oni ng of components
i nto groups and the machi ni ng faci li ty i nto
cells. I t i s also used for measuri ng the
stabi li ty of the parti ti ons at each i terative
step i n the FCM algori thm, whi ch si gni fi-
cantly si mpli fies the calculati on
procedure[10,14].
The vali di ty measure i s defined at two lev-
els usi ng resource elements (Sr) and usi ng
machi nes (S
m
). At the i terati on for each num-
ber of component groups/ machi ni ng cells a
Sr i s used to select stable parti ti on before
machi ne selecti on. Once a stable resource
element based parti ti on i s achi eved and the
Fi gure 3
Facility decomposition methodology
[ 220 ]
resource elements are transfor med i nto
machi ne tools, the final secti on of a stable
faci li ty parti ti on i s based on vali di ty measure
S
m
.
Machi ne sel ect i on
At each i terati on the machi ne tools for each
cell are selected by matchi ng thei r capabi li -
ti es to the cell boundari es descri bed i n ter ms
of resource elements. The machi ne selecti on
i s based on a wi de vari ety of cri teri a and may
i nclude requi rements such as: mi ni mum
vari ety of machi nes i n the cells; mi ni mum
transport movements i n the cell; maxi mum
uti li zati on; opti mum level of concentrati on of
the operati ons (e.g. selecti on of machi ni ng
centres agai nst dedi cated machi nes), etc.
A fundamental advantage of usi ng REs i n
cell for mati on i s the abi li ty to translate the
cell capabi li ty boundari es i nto di fferent sets
of machi ne tools. Thi s allows multi ple
choi ces i n cell configurati on and selecti on of
the most effi ci ent combi nati on of worksta-
ti ons i n ter ms of machi ne capabi li ty and
capaci ty uti li zati on. Research i s ongoi ng i n
developi ng a deci si on-maki ng module to
support the allocati on of machi ne tools to the
RE based cell boundari es under a vari ety of
capaci ty constrai nts. The results so far sug-
gest that by taki ng the deci si ons at sub-
machi ne level usi ng resource elements a
more accurate esti mate of the actual capaci ty
requi rements of parti cular machi ni ng capa-
bi li ti es can be provi ded and, therefore, a more
effi ci ent faci li ty decomposi ti on can be
achi eved.
I n thi s paper an i llustrative example i s
presented where the selecti on strategy
emphasi zes the mi ni mi zati on of the vari ety of
machi nes and transport movements i n the
cells. To sati sfy that requi rement, machi ne
tools are selected on the basi s of maxi mum
capabi li ty, i .e. pri ori ty i s given to machi nes
wi th the maxi mum number of resource ele-
ments, i ncluded i n the cell boundari es.
Each machi ne M
k
ε M i s, therefore, evalu-
ated i n ter ms of number of REs common to
the group centroi ds (representi ng the cell
capabi li ty boundari es). Machi nes are then
clustered around the group centroi ds, substi -
tuti ng correspondent REs. The process i s
based on substi tuti ng the maxi mum number
of REs at each step by i ncludi ng the “most
capable” machi ne tool. The selecti on proce-
dure i s completed once all REs i n the compo-
nent parti ti on are substi tuted by machi ne
tools.
Cel l val i dat i on
The i terative cell for mati on procedure i s
repeated starti ng wi th two component
groups/ machi ni ng cells i ncreasi ng thei r
number unti l a “stop” value i s reached
beyond whi ch the decomposi ti on i s consi d-
ered i nfeasi ble[10]. At each step machi ne tool
based vali di ty measure S
m
i s calculated i n
order to define a stable parti ti on ′Ω
g
(where g
i s the current number of groups/ cells).
A faci li ty parti ti on wi th mi ni mum vali di ty
measure S
m
i s selected as opti mum:
where g°i s a stop-value of the cell number.
The vali di ty measure S
m
has a monotoni c
decreasi ng tendency as the number of cells
reaches a value close to the number of compo-
nents. Thi s, however, i s not a seri ous prob-
lem, si nce i n practi ce, the feasi ble number of
clusters i s much smaller than the number of
components[10]. Heuri sti c methods can be
used to deter mi ne a “stop-value” beyond
whi ch groupi ng i s consi dered unfeasi ble. One
of the possi ble approaches i s to define the
value for S
m
for g= 2,3,…,n – 1 and select the
starti ng poi nt of monotoni c decreasi ng ten-
dency as the maxi mum number of groups to
be consi dered.
Faci l i t y decomposi t i on al gori t hm
The faci li ty decomposi ti on algori thm for cell
deter mi nati on usi ng resource elements can
be summari zed as:
1 Select i ni ti al groupi ng centres.
2 Calculate the component membershi p
functi on.
3 Calculate the new groupi ng centres and
RE membershi p functi on.
4 Calculate RE based vali di ty measure Sr.
mi n mi n
( )
2
15
≤ ≤ °






g g
S
m
g

Fi gure 4
Cell validation criteria
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
[ 221 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
5 Repeat steps 2-4 unti l the stable parti ti on i s
achi eved (Sr = mi n).
6 Select machi ne tools for each cell whi ch
match the requi red resource elements by
the component groups.
7 Calculate machi ne based vali di ty measure
S
m
.
8 I ncrease the number of groups g = g+1.
9 Repeat steps 1-8 unti l g = g°.
10 Select the parti ti on wi th mi ni mum S
m
.
Experi ment al resul t s
The decomposi ti on methodology was experi -
mentally tested usi ng data from a number of
i ndustri al cases. The case i llustrated here i s
based on set of 50 components and machi n-
i ng faci li ty of 45 machi ne tools. The compo-
nent set i s a representative sample from the
database of a large i ndustri al company. Com-
ponents are selected i n the same si ze range
and wi th small producti on volumes so that
thei r for m generati ng requi rements are
consi dered to be the major clusteri ng cri te-
ri on for faci li ty decomposi ti on. I n order to
vali date the approach the machi ni ng faci li ty
i s decomposed twi ce usi ng component-
resource element and component-machi ne
tools representati on of the component route-
i ngs.
The results of the decomposi ti on are
summari zed i n Fi gure 5. The opti mum parti -
ti on i s deci ded by the machi ne tools based
compactness and repeti ti on measure S
m
calculated for each parti ti on. The best parti -
ti on i s found to be the one wi th five groups
and S
m
= 0.022. The appearance of some of
the groupi ng pri mi tives i n more than one
centroi d, whi ch nor mally would be consi d-
ered as bottle-neck elements, i n thi s case
could be i gnored owi ng to the fact that all
repeated REs can be translated i nto di fferent
machi nes; hence, at machi ne level there i s
no repeti ti on of machi ni ng resources (i n
some cases li mi ted repeti ti on can be
unavoi dable because of the shortage of
machi ni ng resources).
The results of the faci li ty decomposi ti on
usi ng machi nes whi ch were i ni ti ally
selected i n the component process plans are
shown i n Fi gure 6. I t can be observed that
the best parti ti on i s agai n the one wi th five
groups (S
m
= 0.029) but because the
machi nes have been selected before the
groupi ng they do not reflect the commonal-
i ty between the components i n the groups;
therefore component devi ati on from the
centroi ds i s hi gher, whi ch when translated
i nto cell perfor mance means lower equi p-
ment uti li zati on and hi gher transport ti mes.
There i s also a constant trend of repeated
machi nes (i .e. machi nes requi red by more
than one cell), whi ch at thi s level of for mal-
i zati on of component requi rements cannot
be avoi ded.
I n the case of RE based cell deter mi nati on
the overall number of machi nes selected for
the five cells i s consi derably smaller (see
Fi gure 7) than the number of machi nes
selected when component-machi ne for mal-
i zati on i s used. The di fference i s parti ally
based on the subjective selecti on of compo-
nent routi nes by the planners i n the second
case. However, the fact that machi nes are
selected for groups of components rather
than on a component-by-component base
shows that faci li ty decomposi ti on based on
resource elements provi des a wi der choi ce of
selecti on alter natives and leads to i mproved
machi ne selecti on.
As the compari son of the graphs shows
(see Fi gures 5, 6 and 7), the cells defi ned
usi ng REs have better compactness and repe-
ti ti on values i n ter ms of machi nes, are
defi ned usi ng lesser number of machi ne
tools and there i s no machi ne repeti ti on. The
groupi ng based on pre-selected machi nes
has hi gher vali dati on measure i ndi cati ng
hi gher devi ati on of the components i n the
groups (whi ch i n most cases translates i nto
lower machi ne uti li zati on) and leads to
i ncreased number of repeated machi nes
(“bottle-neck elements”).
Concl usi ons
The resource element concept proposed i n
thi s paper provi des a process capabi li ty
descri pti on whi ch i s both machi ne i ndepen-
dent and faci li ty speci fic. The resource ele-
ments are used to define component process-
i ng requi rements uni quely wi thout rejecti ng
any possi ble machi ne alter natives i n
Fi gure 5
Decomposition results using resource elements
12
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
2 cells 3 cells 4 cells 5 cells 6 cells 7 cells
Repeated REs/machines
0.12
0.1
0.08
0.06
0.04
0.02
0
Key
Repeated resource elements
Repeated machines (none)
Validity measure
Validity measure
[ 222 ]
Nabil N.Z. Gindy and
Tsvetan M. Ratchev
Cellular decomposition of
manufacturing facilities using
resource elements
Integrated Manufacturing
Systems
8/ 4 [1997] 215–222
advance, thus achi evi ng the effect of multi ple
component routei ngs wi thout the computa-
ti onal complexi ty associ ated wi th them.
Resource elements can be used i n a wi de
range of tasks whi ch requi re capabi li ty based
descri pti on of component requi rements and
machi ni ng faci li ti es (process planni ng, pro-
ducti on planni ng, scheduli ng, etc.).
The reported groupi ng approach based on
resource elements faci li tates more reali sti c
component clusteri ng, generi cally reflecti ng
the commonali ty of the component process-
i ng requi rements. By usi ng resource
elements components can be clustered on the
basi s of thei r uni que capabi li ty requi rements
wi thout i t bei ng necessary to si ngle out spe-
ci fic machi ne routei ngs among the avai lable
alter natives. The defini ti on of the cell bound-
ari es i n ter ms of resource elements provi des
greater flexi bi li ty for deci si on maki ng and
i mplementati on of di fferent company speci fic
strategi es i n cell for mati on tasks.
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Fi gure 6
Decomposition results using component-machine formalization
12
11
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
2 cells 3 cells 4 cells 5 cells 6 cells 7 cells
Repeated machines
0.12
0.1
0.08
0.06
0.04
0.02
0
Key
Repeated machines
Validity measure
Validity measure
Fi gure 7
Number of machines used for cell determination
40
30
20
10
0
2 cells 3 cells 4 cells 5 cells 6 cells 7 cells
Key
Machine based decomposition
RE based decomposition
32
8
33
12
35
13
34
16
34
18
35
20