Focused cellular

manufacturing: an alternative
to cellular manufacturing
Fahad Al-Mubarak and Basheer M. Khumawala
Department of Decision and Information Sciences, College of Business
Administration, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA, and
Cem Canel
Department of Information Systems and Operations Management,
Cameron School of Business, University of North Carolina at
Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
Keywords Cellular manufacturing, Development
Abstract This paper is aimed at comparing cellular manufacturing with focused cellular
manufacturing. We define focused cellular manufacturing as a layout scheme that groups
components by end-items and forms cells of machines to fabricate and assemble end-items. It is not
classified as a cellular manufacturing layout since it does not attempt to take advantage of process
similarities. It also is not classified as a flow shop since there are no machines dedicated to
individual operations and the machines are not arranged in a series. In addition, this research
includes batching and assemble times in its criteria which few researchers in this area have done.
The results indicate that the focused cellular manufacturing scheme has a batching advantage.
This advantage out-weighed the set-up time reduction advantage of the cellular manufacturing
scheme for average end-item completion times and average work-in-process inventory levels. The
cellular manufacturing scheme overcame the batching advantage only when there were small batch
sizes or large set-up time magnitudes.
Companies are continually evaluating their manufacturing systems in light of
increasing market competition for the purpose of growing and in some cases
simply for survival in today’s competitive global environment. Over the years a
number of different plant organizations have been used to meet this challenge.
For firms at the extreme ends of Hayes and Wheelwright’s (1984) product-
process matrix it is easy to decide which plant organization to adopt. Job shops
(JS) (i.e. process layouts) address the needs of firms producing many one-of-a-
kind products with low annual demands, while firms with few products
demanded in large annual quantities would select a flow shop organization (i.e.
a product layout). Problems arise for firms that lie between these two extremes
– the batch processors (i.e. firms facing mid-volume and mid-variety
Competitive forces in both domestic and global markets are challenging
batch processing firms to become more efficient and, at the same time, to
become more flexible (DeMeyer et al., 1989). Cellular manufacturing (CM) is a
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Focused cellular
International Journal of Operations &
Production Management
Vol. 23 No. 3, 2003
pp. 277-299
q MCB UP Limited
DOI 10.1108/01443570310462767
layout organization that has been used to meet this challenge. CM is a
philosophy that attempts to recognize and exploit similarities among
components. Components are grouped into families based on similarity in
shapes or production processes or both. Machines are then grouped into cells to
produce these components. The advantage is that the time required for the set-
up changes between components that are similar is shorter which reduces
component flow times, lowers work-in-process inventories, and increases
productivity for machines. The major disadvantage of this scheme is that it
does not quite meet the competitive need for flexibility.
This paper compares a CM layout to a much discussed but seldom
researched layout – focused cellular manufacturing (FCM). We define FCM as
a layout scheme that groups components by end-items and forms cells of
machines to fabricate and assemble end-items. It is not classified as a CM
layout since it does not attempt to take advantage of process similarities so as
to reduce set-up times (Wemmerlov and Hyer, 1987). It also is not classified as a
flow shop since there are no machines dedicated to individual operations and
the machines are not arranged in a series.
FCM’s major advantages are its ability to reduce completion times for
assembled end-items and work-in-process inventories while maintaining some
degree of flexibility. Another advantage is that it would be easy to install in a
firm that has a few end-items produced in large annual volumes and many end-
items produced in small volumes. Such a firm might opt for a mixture of shop
layouts (i.e. process and batch). Many firms have such a combination (Flynn and
Jacobs, 1987). Installing a single focused cell for a few end-items would be more
practical than installing the many required cells for a cellular manufacturing
layout. The focused cellular scheme’s major disadvantage is in load imbalances
that may develop as different product markets grow at different rates.
The remainder of this paper is divided into the following sections: the second
section provides a literature review, the third section describes the experiment
and the simulation models used in this study, the fourth section provides the
results from the simulation runs, and the last section presents the conclusions.
Literature review
Skinner (1974) suggested that some batch processing factories would benefit if
they became more focused. He explained that this could be done by grouping
various products and resources into several manufacturing units with each unit
focusing on a limited, concise, and manageable set of products, technologies,
volumes, or markets. Hill (1989) furthered this discussion by providing a more
general framework for defining focus. He suggests that a facility’s focus can be
based on one of three criteria: process, product line or order winners.
Sheu and Krajewski (1990) researched a batch processing environment
which focused on Hill’s order winning criterion. They developed a methodology
for grouping product and machines into cells such that the engineering
considerations of process similarities and the strategic considerations of
homogeneous manufacturing tasks are recognized. They found that the
recognition of process similarities as well as strategic considerations is
important in the development of focused manufacturing facilities.
Schonberger (1982) presents a convincing argument for organizing batch
processing plants by end-items, however, very few researchers have studied this
layout. Several authors have reported on different factories which have adopted
FCM (Wemmerlov and Hyer, 1989; Dumolien and Santen, 1983; Smith, 1987).
These authors mention many benefits of this layout scheme which confirm its
practical importance. In addition, Dale and Dewhurst (1984) studied this layout
scheme through a simulation study investigating different aspects of scheduling
and sequencing of products through focused cells. They, however, did not
compare this layout scheme to other schemes nor did they discuss how
components were grouped into families or howmachines were grouped into cells.
Research on batch processors that focus on process have recently concentrated
on CM (Askin and Selim, 1997; Cheng and Kumar, 1995; Daniels and Burns, 1997;
Kannan and Ghosh, 1996a; Marsh et al., 1997; Reisman et al., 1997; Seifoddini and
Manoocher, 1996; Shafer and Meredith, 1990, 1993; Shambu and Suresh, 1996;
Suresh, 1992; Vakaharia and Kaku, 1994). A number of researchers have
compared JS layouts to CM layouts (Shafer and Meredith, 1990, 1993; Agarwal
and Sarkis, 1998; Farrington and Nazemetz, 1996; Garza and Smunt, 1991;
Kannan and Ghosh, 1996b; Morris and Tersine, 1990, 1994; Shambu and Suresh,
2000) and have generally concluded that manufacturing with a CM layout
performs better than JS layouts. In addition, several surveys of firms that have
adopted CM have been conducted to investigate this scheme’s performance
(Burbidge, 1979; Wemmerlov and Hyer, 1989; Wemmerlov and Johnson, 1997).
These surveys report reduction in set-up times, reduction in flow times, reduction
in work-in-process inventories, reduction in material handling, and improved
quality. These benefits highlight the practical importance of this layout scheme.
Agarwal and Sarkis (1998) provide an analysis and reviewof comparative studies
on JS and CMlayouts based on: simulation, empirical and analytical studies. They
conclude that the findings from these studies are not consistent.
Wemmerlov and Hyer (1989, p. 421) recognized the need to research FCM
further by stating:
It would be of great interest to study the relative advantages/disadvantages of cell systems
based on component similarities versus those based on product line affiliation . . . An
expected benefit would be the ability to react quickly to market demand changes.
We have conducted an experiment which makes this comparison by simulating
a batch processing plant laid-out in a CMorganization versus a plant laid-out in
a focused cellular organization. An assumption of the experiment is that the
firm being modeled needs to be responsive to customers and has access to
specialized resources and expertise by either similarity in process or by product
Focused cellular
Experimental design
Simulation experiments are conducted to compare the performance of CM and
FCM layouts. The simulation experiments included six independent variables
(the shop layout organization, the demand distribution, batch size, set-up time
magnitude, product structures and priority dispatching rule) and three
dependent variables (average component flow time, average end-item
completion time and average work-in-process inventory).
Independent variables
A number of shop operational parameters are considered as independent
variables. Changes in the level of these variables are expected to affect the
behavior of the layouts and hence their performances. Therefore, rather than
holding these parameters constant, they are varied in order to analyze the
performance of the two layouts under different scenarios. The first independent
variable is the layout organization of the shop (i.e. CM or FCM). The FCM
layout first grouped components that belong to a set of end-items into families
and then assigned machines to cells to produce and assemble these end-items.
On the other hand, cellular manufacturing layout first grouped components by
similarities in their processes and then assigned machines to cells so that this
family of components could be produced by the cell.
Demand distributions.A major benefit of organizing a factory based on a
FCMlayout is the ability to respond to different demand patterns and the speed
with which products are completed. Demand for products with high or low
numbers of components (parts) is increased or decreased, and this is expected
to produce different results in the CM and FCM layouts. Three different
demand distributions are investigated. Their differences lie in the frequency
with which each of the product types is being ordered. Products differ mainly
on the number of parts from which they are assembled. Products with high and
low numbers of parts per product are ordered at different frequencies in each of
the three demand distributions.
One of the claimed disadvantages of FCMis that end-itemmarkets may growat
different rates, resulting in load imbalances (Albino and Garavelli, 1999; Vakaharia
and Kaku, 1994). Therefore, end-item demand distributions are included as an
independent variable. In this study, we considered five end-items with the number
of components being three, four or five. Table I shows the three levels of this factor
with the end-items and number of components for each end-item.
The first distribution, equal products distribution (EPD), assumes that every
product has the same probability of being ordered. That is, each of the five
products, regardless of the number of components it is made of, has a 20
percent probability of being ordered every time an order is received. The
second type of demand distribution gives products with more components
higher probabilities of being ordered than those with fewer components. For
example, product number 1, which has five parts, has a probability of 30
percent of being ordered. However, products with fewer components, such as
product number 2, are ordered less frequently (10 percent). This demand
distribution will be referred to as large products distribution (LPD). The final
type of demand distribution allows products with fewer components to be
ordered more frequently than those with more components. This distribution is
referred to as small product distribution (SPD).
Batch size. Batch size is the number of parts that are grouped together and
processed thereafter in a group or batch. The batch size is an important factor
and directly influences the average completion time of parts (Shafer and
Charnes, 1993). That is, at an extreme batch size of one, parts are routed through
the shop individually and exit as soon as all of their operations are performed.
This extreme case would obviously result in a short average completion time for
all parts. The way batching was done was different for the two layout
In the CMlayout, components are grouped based on the degree of processing
similarity. Therefore, parts that may belong to the same or different products
would be eligible to join in a family of parts. Once this family reached a pre-set
batch size, it was released to the appropriate cell for processing. In the FCM
layout all components of an end-item were grouped into one family. The batch
size in this case was the number of end-items released to the system.
Batch size is an independent variable in the experiments and Table II shows
the three levels of this factor. The number of components in each batch size was
kept equal for both layout schemes to allow similarity in operating conditions
for the simulation experiments.
End-item Number of components SPD EPD LPD
1 5 0.1
0.2 0.3
2 3 0.3 0.2 0.1
3 4 0.2 0.2 0.2
4 3 0.3 0.2 0.1
5 5 0.1 0.2 0.3
The numbers are the probability of an order being for particular end-item
SPD: small product distribution
EPD: equal product distribution
LPD: large product distribution
Table I.
End-item demand
Batch size
CM model FCM model
components End-items Components
Small 4 1 4
Medium 8 2 8
Large 16 4 16
Table II.
Batch sizes
Focused cellular
Since the average number of parts per product is four, as shown in Table III,
batch sizes are made up of multiples of four: four, eight and 16 parts for the CM
layout. Table III lists the different product types, the number of parts per
product and average number of operations per part for each product. Each
layout processes all components of the five different products. Consistent with
other research studies, the number of parts per product ranges between three
and five, values within the lower range reported by Wemmerlov and Hyer
(1989) in their survey of cellular shop practices. Krajewski et al. (1987)
simulated products with an average of 4.5 components per parent, for end-
items and of two, for intermediate items. Flynn and Jacobs (1987) simulated an
actual shop which had two to five parts per product.
Set-up time. The processing time is the time required to perform a single
operation on a single part on a machine. The processing time in this experiment
is randomly generated from a uniform distribution over an interval between
four and eight hours which is 0.5 to 1.0 days, where each day is eight working
hours long. The set-up time is the time required to prepare a machine to start
processing a part. The processing and set-up times for each operation on each
part were pre-set before the start of the simulation runs. The same randomized
values were fixed in both of the layouts. This was necessary to avoid
influencing the results by processing time differences. Set-up time is an
important factor in the CM and FCM layouts, and is used in several recent
studies comparing JS and CM layouts (i.e. Farrington and Nazemetz, 1996;
Shambu and Suresh, 2000). We evaluated the effect of set-up time on the results
at two levels: small and large. The small set-up time per part was chosen to
range between 0.2 and 0.4 days and large set-up time ranged between 0.6 and
1.2 days per part per operation. The set-up time magnitudes, ratio of set-time to
processing time (which averaged 40 percent for the small setting), and the
difference between small and large set-up times were established according to
previous research settings or survey findings (Flynn and Jacobs, 1987;
Krajewski et al., 1987; Wemmerlov and Hyer, 1989).
Product structure. Product structure refers to the relationship between
components and the end-item. Product structure is another independent
variable used in the simulation experiments, where the effect of different
product structures on both layouts is investigated. Two sets of products are
Product type Number of parts per product Average number operations per part
1 5 2.80
2 3 3.00
3 4 2.75
4 3 3.00
5 5 2.60
Average 4.0 2.80
Table III.
Product types
being processed in both layouts. The first set is a simple, one-level product. The
other set is where products have a multi-level product structure. The number of
levels for the latter type ranges from two to four. Figure 1 shows the product
structures for the two levels.
The number of levels selected in this research is consistent with that
used by Krajewski et al. (1987). They observed that an average of three
Figure 1.
Product structure
Focused cellular
BOM levels per end-item (with a range from two to four) reflects US
industrial practice.
Priority dispatching rules. Parts accumulate in queues “waiting” for
machines to be available for processing. When a machine becomes idle and
there is more than one part waiting in its queue, the dispatching rule selects the
next part for processing. The last independent variable is the priority
dispatching rule which was used to determine which component, of those
waiting in the machine’s queue, to process next. It was felt that this rule might
influence end-item completion times and was therefore included as an
independent variable. Two rules were tested – first-in-first-out (FIFO) and
first-in-system-first-out (FISFO). The FIFO rule has been consistently used in
all simulation studies that compare JSs to CM models (Flynn and Jacobs, 1987;
Morris and Tersine, 1990, 1994; Garza and Smunt, 1991; Shafer and Charnes,
1993; Shambu and Suresh, 2000). The FISFO rule gives the part with the
earliest system entering time when it entered the system the highest priority to
be processed when the machine becomes available.
Dependent variables
There are a number of dependent variables that vary as the independent
variables change. Any of these dependent variables could be used as a
performance measure to compare the two layouts being simulated in the
experiments. Some of the most common and traditional measures that have
been used in previous similar studies (Farrington and Nazemetz, 1996; Flynn
and Jacobs, 1987; Garza and Smunt, 1991; Shafer and Charnes, 1993; Shafer and
Meredith, 1993; Shambu and Suresh, 2000) are used in this study. Marketing
and inventory managers are usually interested in the mean completion time of
end-items which includes processing, batching and assemble times. Our
research includes criteria with all three of these factors. We feel this gives
insights into the efficiency and performance of the entire process.
The three dependent variables used in this experiment are – average
component flow time (ACFT), average end-item completion time (AEICT), and
average work-in-process inventory (AWIP). The average component
completion time included the time between the component’s batch release
until all components of the batch were completed. The average end-item
completion time included the time it took between order release and end-item
assemble. The AWIP is the average number of components and subassemblies
waiting to be batched, processed, rebatched or assembled.
In today’s competitive manufacturing environment simulation has become one
of the most powerful resources to managers for designing manufacturing
systems (Farhadi, 1994). Simulation enables those systems to work before they
are build (Koelsch, 1992). Simulation has been used in most of the studies
comparing JS and CM layouts (i.e. Albino and Garavelli, 1999; Shafer and
Charnes, 1993,1995; Shafer and Meredith, 1993; Shambu and Suresh, 2000). In
this study, we conducted simulation experiments to compare the performance
of CM and FCM layouts. Thus far, we have discussed a total of six independent
variables which affect the performance of the layouts simulated in the
experiments. These variables are also commonly used performance measures
estimated by simulation (Shafer and Meredith, 1993, Law and McComas 1998,
1999). The effect of each of the independent variables needs to be individually
investigated under different operating scenarios. Each variable has two or
three levels to be tested, as discussed earlier and summarized in Table IV.
Simulation languages have become easier to use and apply in manufacturing
environments (Law and McComas, 1992). Examples of general-purpose
simulation languages include Arena, AweSim, EXTEND, GASP, GPSS/H,
SLAM II and Taylor Enterprise Dynamics Developer (Diamond, 1989; Ekere
and Hannam, 1989; Law and McComas, 1999). With EXTEND, it is possible to
create a block diagram of a process where each block describes one part of the
process. The simulation model used in this research was designed to represent
the general practice used by past researchers.
Interarrival rates for orders
The average number of components per end-item that were generated at each
interval of time was dependent upon the end-item demand distribution. To
maintain comparable shop capacity levels for all simulation models the
interarrival rates were changed to overcome changes in the demand
distributions. The arrival rates were drawn from an exponential distribution
with pre-set mean interarrival rates.
The average number of parts per product that is generated at each interval
of time is different from one model to another, depending on the demand
distribution used, which is shown in Table V.
For example, when each product has an equal probability of being ordered
(EPD), the average number of parts per product is four. When products with a
larger number of parts have a higher probability of being ordered (LPD), the
average number of parts is 4.4 per product. The third case is when products
with a smaller number of parts have a higher probability of being ordered
(SPD); the average number of parts per product is then 3.6.
Number Independent variable Number of levels Levels
Shop layout
Demand distribution
Batch size
Small, medium, large
Set-up time
Small, large
Product structure
Single level, multi-level
Priority rule
Table IV.
Focused cellular
Simulation runs
Each simulation run accounted for 750 days. The initial 250 days for each run
was found to stabilize the system and data was collected during the remaining
500 days. Each data collection period was broken into ten 50 day subperiods
which accounted for ten replications per simulation run.
If a full factorial experiment (all possible combinations) is designed, the number
of runs needed would be 144 (2(3 £ 3 £ 2 £ 2 £ 2)). Each run would provide a
number of performance measures. When the number of runs is multiplied by the
number of performance criteria, the resulting information becomes prohibitively
large. Moreover, it would be difficult to comprehend how each system’s behavior
would compare to the other one under different operating environments. In
previous research, such complex situations are avoided by limiting the number of
independent variables and/or reducing the number of levels.
To achieve both the inclusion of all variables and their levels and produce a
reasonable set of results, pilot studies were first run to produce some
preliminary results. These preliminary results helped to define a two-phased
experiment so as to achieve many insights on the performance of layouts with
the changes in the independent variables. The independent variables are
grouped in sets and are run together. This will reduce the number of runs,
while providing the needed information.
In the first phase, the two layouts are run using the three demand
distributions and all levels of batch sizes. This produced 18 runs (2(3 £ 3)). In
these runs, set-up time is set at the small level, product structure is fixed at a
single level and the priority rule used is FIFO.
In phase two, the other three independent variables (set-up time, product
structure and priority rule) are varied individually in different sets, while the
demand distribution and batch size are held constant at EPD and “medium
batch,” respectively. This resulted in 16 additional runs (2(2 £ 2 £ 2)).
The verification process included de-bugging simulation programs from any
topographic or logical mistakes. Models were tested as a whole and as
Product type
N p p*N p p*N p p*N
1 5 0.1 0.5 0.2 1.0 0.3 1.5
2 3 0.3 0.9 0.2 0.6 0.1 0.3
3 4 0.2 0.8 0.2 0.8 0.2 0.8
4 3 0.3 0.9 0.2 0.6 0.1 0.3
5 5 0.1 0.5 0.2 1.0 0.3 1.5
Average part/product
4 3.6 4.0 4.4
1.1 1.0 0.9
Table V.
Average number
of parts
subsections. For example, a cell was completely evaluated individually from
the arrival of a batch until its departure. The use of the priority rule in a
machine’s queue was verified by monitoring the entering and exiting parts over
time. Check points were positioned at every stage of the process to monitor and
report on all parts passing through the system. The above inspection process
was used to verify the condition of both layout models. Through de-bugging,
refining and redesigning, both models were completely verified.
The random number generator used in the simulation program was also
tested. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov goodness-of-fit test was applied, and the null
hypothesis (no difference between the sample frequency and the theoretical
uniform distribution) was not rejected for any sample tested. Four other tests
were also applied: number of runs, number of runs above and below the mean,
length of runs and length of runs above and below the mean. In no case was the
null hypothesis rejected.
The performance measure values collected over every period must be
independent in order for them to be statistically reliable. The batch means
method (Fishman, 1978) is used to test the independence between each adjacent
batch. A batch here is a period of time over which statistics are collected.
Independence of batches refers to the degree of correlation between the
criterion values of adjacent periods.
Validation is the process of establishing that desired accuracy or
correspondence exists between the simulation model and the real system
being simulated. Deterministic values are used as input to every layout model
in order to test the validity of the results. For example, in the stage of randomly
generating product orders, a specific number and type of orders was generated
at a specific time interval. This ensures that these products are the only inputs
and the only expected outputs of the system. Output results are validated by
comparing them to independently manually calculated results. This means
that, not only is the model being executed as intended, but also the system
results correspond to the logically and intuitively calculated results.
The correspondence between different results of a specific run was also
compared to verify their validity. It was established that there is a linear
relationship between the average completion time and the work-in-process
Results and analysis
An inspection of all data produced in all of the simulation runs revealed no
apparent unjustifiable irregularities. The mean batch method was applied to all
major performance values. At a 5 percent level of significance, the correlation
coefficients were not statistically significantly different from 0. This
independence of observations makes the data statistically reliable. A
Focused cellular
graphical method (Tukey, 1977) was used to test the normality of the data. No
gross violation of normality was detected in any performance measure.
Comparison of layouts
Similar to the methodology used by Shafer and Charnes (1993) when
comparing JS to CM-based layouts, a method pairs t-test is used to test for
differences between the various levels of the independent variables. This
method was also used in a similar study by Penlesky et al. (1989). First, we
determined the differences between observations in each layout. To determine
the t-value, the sample mean differences, and the standard deviation of the
sample mean paired differences are calculated. Table VI shows the mean
differences, percent change, t-value, and corresponding probability for each
manufacturing scenario. The percent change is determined as follows:
Percent change ¼
Value of CM layout ÿ Value of FCM layout
Value of CM layout

à 100:
Information from this analysis is the basis for determining whether there is a
difference in the performance of the layouts and, when found, in which
direction. Calculations shown in Table VI were performed for each layout for
all three performance criteria.
Demand distribution and batch size analysis
The independent variables manipulated in the first 18 experiments are demand
distributions and batch sizes. Our objective is to compare the performance of
FCM-based layouts to CM-based layouts. FCMconcept is introduced in order to
improve the performance of manufacturing systems, and the percentage
improvement of FCM over CM, if any, is an important finding in this research.
Average component flow time CM FCM D(CM 2 FCM)
1 6.73 6.45 0.28
2 7.66 6.94 0.72
3 7.16 7.85 20.69
4 7.4 5.49 1.91
5 7.44 7.4 0.04
6 6.95 6.57 0.38
7 7.59 6.08 1.51
8 6.88 7.17 20.29
9 7.5 7.55 20.05
10 7.03 6.68 0.35
Mean 7.23 6.82 0.42
% change 3
Standard deviation 0.79
t-value 1.66
p 0.070
Table VI.
Average component flow time. Average component flow time (ACFT) is the
time it takes a part to be processed, beginning with the time at which the batch
containing the part is released to the system and ending at the time when all
parts comprising the parent batch are finished. This includes four major
(1) waiting in machine queues (if any);
(2) set-up time;
(3) operation processing; and
(4) waiting for other parts of the same batch to finish processing.
An examination of Table VII reveals that the ACFT is significantly different
for both layouts and for most of the manufacturing scenarios compared. The
results show that, in the EPD case, there is no significant difference in ACFT
for all operating scenarios corresponding to small batch sizes. Furthermore, the
probability that there is no difference between ACFT for CM and FCM models
is 7 percent when the batch size is medium and demand is based on EPD. This
probability, when compared with a 5 percent level of significance, indicates
that there is no significant difference between the two layouts. A similar result
can be seen when the batch size is medium and demand is based on LPD. The
remaining cases in Table VII show significant differences between pairs of
ACFTs for the two layouts. The percentage change ranges from as low as 3
percent to as high as 211 percent.
For small batch sizes, the ACFT in the EPD cases are almost identical in both
layouts. However, for LPD and SPD, ACFT for FCM is relatively higher. This is
due to the fact that, when batch sizes are small, it means ordering one product.
Therefore, each focused cell receives all parts of a product order. In the CMlayout
cases, parts for different products are sent to different departments and cells. The
effects that the three levels of demand distributions had on the average
component flow times for the two layouts are shown in Figure 2. The ACFT for
EPD, LPD, and SPD are averaged over each batch size for each layout. The
general trend is that ACFT increases as batch size increases in both layouts.
Average end item completion time. Table VIII shows the results and
statistical analyses of comparisons for average end-item completion time
(AEICT). This table shows that product average completion times of the
two layouts are significantly different. When products of different sizes
have an equal probability of being ordered (EPD), the AEICT increases as
batch sizes increase. The only exception is in the SPD case, where the
AEICT for small batches in the FCM model is relatively higher than that
of CM model. This is a result of a compounded effect of longer ACFTs for
FCM. Figure 3 shows the effects that the three levels of demand
distributions had on the average component flow times for the two layouts.
The AEICT for EPD, LPD, and SPD are averaged over each batch size for
Focused cellular
each layout. The general trend is that AEICT increases as batch size
increases in both layouts.
Average work-in-process inventory. Table IX shows that average work in
process inventory (AWIP) is significantly different in every operating scenario
where different demand distributions and batch sizes are used. A general
observation that can be made is that AWIP inventory increases as batch sizes
increase. As batch sizes increase, items wait longer for each other to be moved
from one stage to another. This causes the number of parts in the system, at
any time, to increase in a proportional manner.
Demand distribution Batch Size Statistic CM FCM Difference
EPD Small Mean 5.81 6.30
% change 213
t-value 21.7
p 0.065
Medium Mean 7.23 6.82
% change 3
t-value 1.66
p 0.070
Large Mean 12 9
% change 26
t-value 6.55
p 0.000
LPD Small Mean 5.3 8.7
% change 258
t-value 26.96
p 0.000
Medium Mean 6.9 6.8
% change 4
t-value 0.58
p 0.998
Large Mean 11 8.2
% change 26
t-value 8.68
p 0.000
SPD Small Mean 5.4 17.6
% change 2211
t-value 224.14
p 0.000
Medium Mean 9.6 6.8
% change 28
t-value 15.20
p 0.000
Large Mean 13 11
% change 14
t-value 5.0
p 0.000
Table VII.
ACFT for demand
distribution and
batch size models
Figure 4 shows the AWIP inventory averaged over all three demand
distributions for each batch size. When batch sizes are small, the AWIP is not
significantly different in each layout. However, as batch sizes increase, AWIP
increases for both layouts.
The effect of changes in demand distributions. As demand distributions
change, the performance of each model changes to some degree. For example,
Figure 5 shows how ACFT increases as product mix changes for the FCM
models. The product average completion time as shown in Figure 6, increased
relatively when the demand distribution changed from EPD to LPD. This is
due to the fact that larger products (i.e. products with more components) are
ordered more frequently than smaller products. This causes batches to wait
longer to reach a pre-set batch size. This waiting causes AEICT to increase
relatively. In the case of SPD, the AEICT increases even more, because parts
have to wait even longer as larger products are being ordered less frequently
than smaller products.
The AWIP inventory, as shown in Figure 7, increases for all layouts as the
demand distribution changes from EPD. FCM models do not accumulate more
AWIP than CM models. This is because batches in FCM models are made up of
parts of the same products and do not have to wait as long as others to be
batched or assembled.
Multi-level product models. Two manufacturing scenarios are compared in
this section. In the first case, both systems process single level products. In the
second case, the process is for multi-level products. Table X shows how ACFT
varies with BOM structure, giving comparisons for each of the two product
structures. The percentage change shows that ACFTs in FCMmodels are lower
than those in the corresponding CM models. Since the way ACFT is determined
is not affected by the way parts are assembled, the results of single and multi-
level models for each layout are similar.
Figure 2.
ACFT averaged over all
demand distributions
Focused cellular
Average end-item completion time as shown in Table X, is higher in multi-level
models than in single level models. The AEICT is high in the CM layout and
low in FCM models. This indicates that processing multi-level products has the
same effect on both layouts.
The AWIP inventory as shown in Table X, for all models processing single
and multi-level products is significantly different from one layout to another.
AWIP is high in the CM and low in the FCM models. This is attributed to the
manner in which each model processes and assembles parts in the system. It is
worth noting that the differences between layouts in the multi-level system are
similar to those in the single level production system.
Demand distribution Batch size Statistic CM FCM Difference
EPD Small Mean 10 7
% change 22
t-value 7.65
p 0.000
Medium Mean 14 11
% change 25
t-value 13.21
p 0.000
Large Mean 25.2 20
% change 21
t-value 6.91
p 0.000
LPD Small Mean 9.3 10.6
% change 220
t-value 22.40
p 0.027
Medium Mean 14 12
% change 13
t-value 10.94
p 0.000
Large Mean 25 23
% change 4
t-value 2.59
p 0.016
SPD Small Mean 9 20.7
% change 2126
t-value 227.98
p 0.000
Medium Mean 16 11
% change 31
t-value 17.67
p 0.000
Large Mean 27 21
% change 19
t-value 7.45
p 0.000
Table VIII.
AEICT for demand
distribution and
batch size models
The effect of increased set-up time. The set-up time was tripled in order to test
the effect of larger set-up times on all performance criteria for the two layouts.
Parts with larger set-up times produced higher average component flow times,
as shown in Table X. This can be confirmed logically; as set-up time increases,
the part spends more time in the system. It has to wait, not only for its large set-
up time, but also for parts ahead of it, which also have large set-up times. It is
worth mentioning that the FCM model is penalized more by the larger set-up
time than the CM model. This shows the amount of set-up time saving that CM
provides by grouping similar parts into families.
The AWIP inventory was not significantly affected by an increase in set-up
time in the JS models. However, in the FCM model, the AWIP doubled, from 28
to 57 parts. Most of the increases in the large set-up time models, were in the
machine queues. As can be seen in Table X, the FCM models produce lower
AWIP when set-up time is small, while the reverse is the case for this criterion
when set-up time is larger.
Priority rule effect analysis. Priority rules control the sequence by which
parts are dispatched as machines become available. Using different priority
rules should affect ACFT directly and AEICT and AWIP indirectly. The two
priority rules which are compared in this experiment are FIFO and FISFO. It is
believed that both layout models should benefit from the FISFO rule (i.e. reduce
ACFT and AEICT). Table X shows ACFT, AEICT and AWIP for both models.
Generally, there is no significant improvement from using FISFO. The lack of
improvement in these performance measures is due to the limited effect of
priority rules in these systems. The average queue length was low in most of
the situations. Therefore, the priority rule did not have an effective role in the
production system. The average queue lengths are so short that they limit the
effectiveness of the dispatching rule applied.
Figure 3.
AEICT averaged over all
demand distributions
Focused cellular
Overall, the results are consistent with the expectations in most cases. In many
cases, the part mean flow times are relatively shorter in the CM models than
those in the FCMmodels, specially as the ratio of set-up time to processing time
increases. On the other hand, product average completion times are shortest in
the FCM models. Table XI shows the average criteria values across all demand
distributions and batch sizes. It is clear that the FCM outperformed the CM
model in the manufacturing scenarios described. The average work in process
inventory is always high in the CM model, especially as batch size increases.
The AWIP is always low in FCM models, even as batch size increases. In
Demand distribution Batch size Statistic CM FCM Difference
EPD Small Mean 24 14
% change 40
t-value 81.23
p 0.000
Medium Mean 40 28
% change 28
t-value 36.60
p 0.000
Large Mean 80 54
% change 35
t-value 35.77
p 0.000
LPD Small Mean 26 34
% change 231
t-value 220.47
p 0.000
Medium Mean 41 30
% change 26
t-value 32.44
p 0.000
Large Mean 83 51
% change 39
t-value 123.82
p 0.017
SPD Small Mean 20 40
% change 2101
t-value 226.37
p 0.000
Medium Mean 41 27
% change 35
t-value 25.37
p 0.000
Large Mean 76 36
% change 26
t-value 5.33
p 0.004
Table IX.
AWIP for demand
distribution and
batch size models
previous studies (Shafer and Meredith, 1993; Morris and Tersine, 1994), where
process layouts are compared to CM layouts, the completion time of jobs in the
CM layouts were found to be longer than they are in the process layouts. As a
result of longer completion times, AWIP levels are higher. As shown in
Table XI, the lower AWIP in FCM can be attributed to the lower completion
times for the end-items in FCM than they are in CM.
This paper presented the results of a study aimed at comparing CM with FCM.
In addition, it included batching and assembly times in its criteria which few
researchers in this area have done. The FCM layout scheme’s major advantage
was minor batching delays before assemble. This accounted for its superior
Figure 4.
Average WIP over all
demand distributions
Figure 5.
ACFT averaged over all
batch sizes
Focused cellular
performance in the average end-itemcompletion times and the AWIP inventory
levels. The CM layout scheme’s major advantage was from set-up reduction
times which resulted in better performance when batch sizes were small or
when set-up time magnitudes were large.
Further research into the behavior of FCMlayouts is needed. The ultimate goal
of this stream of research would be the development of guidelines pertaining to
the appropriate environment for its use and in determining howbest to manage it.
For example, this study allowed only one end-item per cell and this may not be
practical in some industrial settings. Future studies should evaluate this scheme
when more than one end-item is assigned to each cell. Research such as this is
clearly relevant and timely to a large number of manufacturing organizations.
Figure 6.
AEICT averaged over all
batch sizes
Figure 7.
AWIP averaged over all
batch sizes
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Product structure
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Set-up time
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AEICT (days)
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AWIP (parts)
48 37
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