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J Intell Manuf (2008) 19:397406

DOI 10.1007/s10845-008-0091-7

Decision making in equipment selection: an integrated approach


with AHP and PROMETHEE
Metin Dagdeviren

Received: 3 September 2007 / Accepted: 7 January 2008 / Published online: 31 January 2008
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Abstract Multi-attribute equipment selection is a very


important issue for an effective manufacturing system, since
the improper equipment selection might cause many
problems affecting productivity, precision, flexibility and
quality of the products negatively. On the other hand, selecting the best equipment among many alternatives is a multicriteria decision making (MCDM) problem. In this study,
an integrated approach which employs analytic hierarchy
process (AHP) and preference ranking organization method
for enrichment evaluations (PROMETHEE) together, is proposed for the equipment selection problem. The AHP is used
to analyze the structure of the equipment selection problem
and to determine weights of the criteria, and PROMETHEE
method is used to obtain final ranking, and to make a sensitivity analysis by changing the weights. Proposed approach is
applied to a problem of selecting milling machines to be purchased in an international company. Company management
found the application and results satisfactory and implementable in their equipment selection decisions.
Keywords Equipment selection Multi criteria
decision-making AHP PROMETHEE GAIA
Sensivity analysis

Introduction
A proper equipment selection is a very important activity for
manufacturing systems due to the fact that improper equipment selection can negatively affect the overall performance
and productivity of a manufacturing system. The outputs of
M. Dagdeviren (B)
Department of Industrial Engineering, Gazi University,
Maltepe, Ankara 06570, Turkey
e-mail: metindag@gazi.edu.tr

manufacturing system (i.e., the rate, quality and cost) mostly


depend on what kinds of properly selected and implemented
equipments are used (Ayag and Ozdemir 2006). In addition
to this, equipment selection has a major effect on the companies global competitiveness. Using proper equipment can
enhance the production process, provide effective utilization
of manpower, increase production, and improve system flexibility. The importance of equipment selection cannot be overlooked. However, with the wide range of equipment available
today, determination of the best equipment alternative for a
given production scenario is not an easy task (Chan et al.
2001).
Selecting the new equipment is a time-consuming and difficult process, requiring advanced knowledge and experience
deeply. So, the process can be a hard task for engineers and
managers, and also for equipment manufacturer or vendor, to
carry out. For a proper and effective evaluation, the decisionmaker may need a large amount of data to be analyzed and
many factors to be considered (Ayag and Ozdemir 2006).
Although equipment selection plays an important role in
the design of an effective manufacturing system, the publications on this subject are limited (Kulak et al. 2005). The studies performed could be classified into two groups as equipment selection and machine selection. One of the recent studies is by Standing et al. (2001) which uses multi-attribute
utility theory to quantify the contribution of various structural and infrastructural factors for an equipment selection
decision. Tabucanon et al. (1994) developed a decision support system for multi-criteria machine selection problem for
flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), and used the AHP
technique for the selection process. Chen (1999) develops
an integer programming model and a heuristic algorithm
to solve the problem of multiple time periods. Lagrangean
relaxation is used to generate lower bounds for the integer
programming model to evaluate the quality of the heuristic

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solution. Machine selection from fixed number of available


machines is also considered by Atmani and Lashkari (1998),
who developed a model for machine tool selection and operation allocation in FMS. Wang et al. (2000) proposed a fuzzy
multi-attribute decision making model to assist the decisionmaker to deal with the machine selection problem for a FMS.
Dellurgio et al. (1997) presents a Monte Carlo simulation
model for designing and selecting integrated circuit (IC)
inspection systems and equipment choices. Beaulieu et al.
(1997) consider the cell formation and the machine selection
problems for the design of a new cellular manufacturing system using a heuristic algorithm. Kulak et al. (2005) develops
unweighted and weighted multi-attribute axiomatic design
(AD) approaches for fuzzy multi-attribute equipment selection. These approaches include both crisp and fuzzy criteria.
Arslan et al. (2002), Lin and Yang (1996) proposed AHP for
machine selection problem. Yurdakul (2004) applied AHP
and ANP (Analytic Network Process) for calculation of the
contributions of machine tool alternatives to the manufacturing strategy of a manufacturing organization. Ayag and
Ozdemir (2006) proposed a fuzzy AHP approach for machine
tool selection problem. In addition, the articles for an equipment replacement decisions are presented by Oeltjenbruns et
al. (1995) and Sullivan et al. (2002).
In the equipment selection problem, there are a finite number of alternatives which have to be ranked considering many
different and conflicting criteria. Accordingly, this problem
is considered as a multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM)
problem. Several methods exist for MCDM (Zeleny 1982;
Vincke 1992). There are no better or worse techniques, but
some techniques better suit to particular decision problems
than others do (Mergias et al. 2007). The advantage of these
methods is that they can account for both financial and
non-financial impacts. Among these methods, the most popular ones are scoring models (Nelson 1986), analytic hierarchy process (AHP) (Ong et al. 2001), analytic network
process (ANP) (Yksel and Dagdeviren 2007), axiomatic
design (AD) (Kulak and Kahraman 2005), utility models
(Munoz and Sheng 1995), TOPSIS (Tong et al. 2003), ELECTRE (Wang and Triantaphyllou 2006) and PROMETHEE
(Mergias et al. 2007). It is essential to develop all elements
related to the situation of MCDM in detail before selecting
an appropriate MCDM method to solve the problem under
consideration (Bufardi et al. 2004; Mergias et al. 2007). The
MCDM method choice decision should wait until the analyst
and the decision makers understand the problem, the feasible
alternatives, different outcomes, conflicts between the criteria and level of the data uncertainty (Mergias et al. 2007).
Multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) methods such as
AHP and Fuzzy AHP, used for equipment selection problems
in the literature, make the evaluations using the same evaluation scale and preference functions on the criteria basis.
Definition of different preference functions for the criteria is

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an important factor which affects the correctness of the decision made. Unlike other ranking methods in the literature,
different preference functions can be defined for criteria in
PROMETHEE method. In this paper, to solve the equipment
selection problem, the PROMETHEE method was selected
due to its simplicity and capacity to approximate the way
that human mind expresses and synthesizes preferences when
facing multiple contradictory decision perspectives. This
method has some strength in comparison with existing methods, such as: the PROMETHEE I does not aggregate good
scores on some criteria and bad scores on other criteria, it has
less pairwise comparisons and it does not have the artificial
limitation of the use of the standard scale for evaluation. Decision Lab (1999) is software which supports this method and
it also makes sensitivity analysis for the results. This method
provides a visual and powerful tool called Geometrical Analytic for Interactive Aid (GAIA) plane to identify conflicts
among criteria and to group the alternatives (Albadvi et al.
2007).
In this paper, AHPPROMETHEE integrated approach
for selection of the most suitable equipment will be introduced and the implementation process will be explained with
a real world example. We shall use the AHP method to analyze the structure of the equipment selection problem and
determine the weights of criteria, and use PROMETHEE
method for final ranking. In the application, the criteria,
which have the greatest effect on the equipment selection
are determined via a sensitivity analysis, moreover how the
ranking changes if the criteria did not have weights will be
analyzed. This paper is divided into five sections.
In Sect. Introduction, the studied problem is introduced.
Section Principles of AHP and PROMETHEE methods
briefly describes the two proposed methodologies. In Sect.
Proposed AHP-PROMETHEE integrated approach, proposed AHPPROMETHEE integrated approach for equipment selection is presented and the stages of the proposed
approach and steps are determined in detail. How the proposed approach is used on a real world example is explained
in Sect. A numerical application of proposed approach.
In Sect.Conclusions and future research, conclusions and
future research areas are discussed.

Principles of AHP and PROMETHEE methods


The AHP method
AHP, developed by Saaty (1980), addresses how to determine
the relative importance of a set of activities in a multi-criteria
decision problem. The process makes it possible to incorporate judgments on intangible qualitative criteria alongside
tangible quantitative criteria (Badri 2001). The AHP method
is based on three principles: first, structure of the model;

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second, comparative judgment of the alternatives and the criteria; third, synthesis of the priorities.
The first step, a complex decision problem is structured as
a hierarchy. AHP initially breaks down a complex MCDM
problem into a hierarchy of interrelated decision elements
(criteria, decision alternatives). With the AHP, the objectives,
criteria and alternatives are arranged in a hierarchical structure similar to a family tree. A hierarchy has at least three
levels: overall goal of the problem at the top, multiple criteria
that define alternatives in the middle, and decision alternatives at the bottom (Albayrak and Erensal 2004).
The second step is the comparison of the alternatives and
the criteria. Once the problem has been decomposed and
the hierarchy is constructed, prioritization procedure starts
in order to determine the relative importance of the criteria within each level. The pairwise judgment starts from the
second level and finishes in the lowest level, alternatives. In
each level the criteria are compared pairwise according to
their levels of influence and based on the specified criteria
in the higher level (Albayrak and Erensal 2004). In AHP
multiple pairwise comparisons are based on a standardized
comparison scale of nine levels (Table 1).
Let C = {C j | j = 1, 2, . . . , n} be the set of criteria. The
result of the pairwise comparison on n criteria can be summarized in an (n n) evaluation matrix A in which every
element ai j (i, j = 1, 2, . . . , n) is the quotient of weights of
the criteria, as shown in Eq. 1:

a11
a21

A = .
..
an1

a12 . . . a1n
a22 . . . a2n

.. . . .. , aii = 1, a ji = 1/ai j , ai j = 0.
..
.
an2 . . . ann
(1)

At the last step, the mathematical process commences to


normalize and find the relative weights for each matrix. The
relative weights are given by the right eigenvector (w) corresponding to the largest eigenvalue (max ), as
Aw = max w.

(2)

Table 1 Nine-point intensity of importance scale and its description


Definition

Intensity of importance

Equally important

Moderately more important

Strongly more important

Very strongly more important

Extremely more important

Intermediate values

2,4,6,8

If the pairwise comparisons are completely consistent, the


matrix A has rank 1 and max = n. In this case, weights can
be obtained by normalizing any of the rows or columns of A
(Wang and Yang 2007).
It should be noted that the quality of the output of the AHP
is strictly related to the consistency of the pairwise comparison judgments. The consistency is defined by the relation
between the entries of A: ai j a jk = aik . The consistency
index (CI) is
CI = (max n)/(n 1).

(3)

The final consistency ratio (CR), using which one can conclude whether the evaluations are sufficiently consistent, is
calculated as the ratio of the CI and the random index (RI),
as indicated in Eq. 4.
CR = CI/RI

(4)

The number 0.1 is the accepted upper limit for CR. If


the final consistency ratio exceeds this value, the evaluation
procedure has to be repeated to improve consistency. The
measurement of consistency can be used to evaluate the consistency of decision makers as well as the consistency of all
the hierarchy (Wang and Yang 2007).
In the literature, AHP, has been widely used in solving
many complicated decision-making problems. Recently,
Tiwari and Banerjee (2001) used the AHP for the selection of
a casting process. Albayrak and Erensal (2004) applied the
AHP to improve human performance. Gngr and Arkan
(2007) also used this method to improve quality-based investment. In spite of its popularity and simplicity in concept,
the AHP is criticized for its inability to adequately handle
the inherent uncertainty and imprecision associated with the
mapping of the decision-makers perception to crisp values. In this case, many researchers have suggested use of
fuzzy numbers in pairwise comparison process (Bozdag et al.
2003; Chan et al. 2007; Dagdeviren and Yksel 2008). The
second point why AHP method has been criticized is that
decision problems are structured in a hierarchical manner.
Some decision-making problems cannot be structured hierarchically because they involve the interaction and dependence of higher level elements on lower level elements (Saaty
1996). Saaty suggested the use of ANP to solve the problem of dependence among alternatives or criteria and many
researchers used ANP in their study (Niemira and Saaty
2004; Mohanty et al. 2005; Ulutas 2005; Chung et al. 2005;
Agarwal et al. 2006; Yksel and Dagdeviren 2007).
The PROMETHEE method
The PROMETHEE (Preference Ranking Organization
METHod for Enrichment Evaluation) is a multi-criteria decision-making method developed by Brans et al. (Brans and
Vincke 1985; Brans et al. 1986). It is a quite simple ranking

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method in conception and application compared with other


methods used for multi-criteria analysis. It is well adapted
to problems where a finite number of alternatives are to be
ranked according to several, sometimes conflicting criteria
(Albadvi et al. 2007). The evaluation table is the starting
point of the PROMETHEE method. In this table, the alternatives are evaluated on the different criteria.
The implementation of PROMETHEE requires two additional types of information, namely: (1) Information on the
relative importance that is the weights of the criteria considered. (2) Information on the decision-makers preference
function, which he/she uses when comparing the contribution
of the alternatives in terms of each separate criterion.
The weights coefficients can be determined according to
various methods (Nijkamp et al. 1990; Mergias et al. 2007).
AHP method is used to determine the criteria weights in this
study.
The PROMETHEE method is appropriate to treat the
multi-criteria problem of the following type:
max{ f 1 (a), f 2 (a), . . . , f n (a)|a A},

(5)

where A is a finite set of possible alternatives, and f j denotes


n criteria to be maximized. For each alternative, f j (a) is an
evaluation of this alternative. When we compare two alternatives a, b A, we must be able to express the result of these
comparisons in terms of preference. We, therefore, consider
a preference function P. The preference function translates
the difference between the evaluations of two alternatives
(a and b) in terms of a particular criterion, into a preference
degree ranging from 0 to 1. Let
P j (a,b) = G j [ f j (a) f j (b)],

(6)

0 P j (a,b) 1,

(7)

be the preference function associated to the criterion, f j (i)


where G j is a non-decreasing function of the observed deviation (d) between f j (a) and f j (b). In order to facilitate
the selection of specific preference function, six basic types
of this preference function are proposed to decision maker
by Brans and Vincke (1985) (usual function, U-shape function, V-shape function, level function, linear function and
Gaussian function) in each case no more than two parameters (threshold, q, p or s) have to fixed (Brans and Mareschall
1994; Wang and Yang 2007).
Indifference threshold q: the largest deviation to consider
as negligible on that criterion. It is a small value with respect
to the scale of measurement. Preference threshold p: the
smallest deviation to consider decisive in the preference of
one alternative over another. It is a large value with respect
to the scale of measurement. Gaussian threshold s: it is only
used with the Gaussian preference function. It is usually fixed
as an intermediate value between indifference and a preference threshold.

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PROMETHEE permits the computation of the following


quantities for each alternative a and b:
n


(a, b) =

w j P j (a, b)

j=1
n


(8)

wj

j=1

+ (a) =

(x, a),

(9)

(a, x),

(10)

xA

(a) =


xA

(a) = + (a) (a).

(11)

For each alternative a, belonging to the set A of alternatives, (a, b) is an overall preference index of a over b. The
leaving flow + (a) is the measure of the outranking character of a (how a dominates all the other alternatives of A).
Symmetrically, the entering flow (a) gives the outranked
character of a (how a is dominated by all the other alternatives of A). (a) represents a value function, whereby a
higher value reflects a higher attractiveness of alternative a
and is called net flow.
The three main PROMETHEE tools can be used to analyze the evaluation problem: (1) the PROMETHEE I partial
ranking, (2) the PROMETHEE II complete ranking and (3)
the geometrical analysis for interactive aid (GAIA).
The PROMETHEE I partial ranking provides a ranking of
alternatives. In PROMETHEE I, alternative a is preferred to
alternative b, aPb, if alternative a has a greater leaving flow
than that of alternative b and a smaller entering flow than the
entering flow of alternative b:
aPb if : + (a) > + (b) and (a) < (b); or
+ (a) > + (b) and (a) = (b); or
+ (a) = + (b) and (a) < (b).

(12)

PROMETHEE I evaluation allows indifference and incomparability situations. Therefore, sometimes partial rankings
can be obtained. In the indifference situation (aIb), two alternatives a and b has the same leaving and entering flows:
aIb if : + (a) = + (b) and (a) = (b).

(13)

Two alternatives are considered incomparable, aRb, if


alternative a is better than alternative b in terms of leaving
flow, while the entering flows indicate the reverse:
aRb if : + (a) > + (b) and (a) > (b); or
+ (a) < + (b) and (a) < (b).

(14)

PROMETHEE II provides a complete ranking of the alternatives from the best to the worst one. Here, the net flow () is

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used to rank the alternatives. The alternative with the higher


net flow is assumed to be superior. Since PROMETHEE
I does not provide a complete ranking, resulting ranking
can not be compared with the ranking provided by PROMETHEE II. PROMETHEE I ensure creation of indifferent
and incomparable alternatives. In some ranking problems,
PROMETHEE I can give a complete ranking depending on
the evaluation matrix values and, this ranking can not be different from the one achieved with PROMETHEE II.
The geometrical analysis for interactive aid (GAIA) plane
displays the relative position of the alternatives graphically,
in terms of contributions to the various criteria (Brans and
Vincke 1985; Brans and Mareschall 1994). Principal components analysis is applied to the matrix of normed flows,
defined for alternative a and criterion j by:
j (a) =

1 
[P j (a, b) P j (b, a)],
n1

(15)

the geometric mean of the values obtained from individual


evaluations, a final pairwise comparison matrix on which
there is a consensus is found. The weights of the criteria
are calculated based on this final comparison matrix. In the
last step of this phase, calculated weights of the criteria are
approved by decision making team.
Equipment priorities are found by using PROMETHEE
computations in the third stage. Firstly, preference functions
and parameters are determined by the decision making team.
After the approval of the functions, partial ranking with
PROMETHEE I and complete ranking with PROMETHEE
II and GAIA plane are determined. Decision Lab software is
used in this process.
In the last step of the proposed procedure, the best equipment is selected according to the rankings and GAIA plane
obtained by PROMETHEE I and II. Schematic representation of the proposed approach is presented in Fig. 1.

b=a

where n is the number of alternatives, and this is used to generate a two-dimensional plot in which the alternatives and
criteria are represented in the same plan (Belton and Stewart
2002).
There are some studies in the literature which consider
the PROMETHEE. Goumas and Lygerou (2000) used the
PROMETHEE method in the ranking of alternative energy
exploitation projects. Albadvi et al. (2007) developed a decision making model for stock trading with PROMETHEE. In
addition to these studies Wang and Yang (2007), for information systems outsourcing; Mergias et al. (2007), for the
selection of the best compromise management scheme for
end of life vehicles; Araz et al. (2007) in the outsourcing
management, used PROMETHEE method.

Step 1:

Forming decision making team

Step 2:

Determining alternative equipments

Step 3:

Determining the criteria to be used in


evaluation

Step 4:

Structuring decision hierarchy

Step 5:

Approve
decision
hierarchy?

Y
Step 6:

Step 7:

Assigning criteria weigths via AHP

Proposed AHP-PROMETHEE integrated approach


The integrated approach, composed of AHP and PROMETHEE methods, for the equipment selection problem
consists of 4 basic stages: (1) Data gathering, (2) AHP computations, (3) PROMETHEE computations, (4) Decision
making. In the first stage, alternative equipments and the
criteria which will be used in their evaluation are determined
and the decision hierarchy is formed. In the last step of the
first stage, the decision hierarchy is approved by decision
making team.
After the approval of decision hierarchy, criteria used in
equipment selection are assigned weights using AHP in the
second stage. In this phase, pairwise comparison matrices are
formed to determine the criteria weights. The experts from
decision making team make individual evaluations using
the scale, provided in Table 1, to determine the values of
the elements of pairwise comparison matrices. Computing

STAGE 1: Data Gathering

Approve
criteria
weights?

STAGE 2: AHP calculations

Y
Determining the preference functions
and parameters for the criteria

Step 8:

Step 9:

Approve
preference
functions?

Y
Step 10:

STAGE 3: PROMETHEE
calculations

Partial ranking via PROMETHEE I

Complete ranking via PROMETHEE II


Step 11:

Step 12:

Determining GAIA plane

Step 13:

Selecting the best equipment

STAGE 4: Decision making

Fig. 1 Schematic representation of the process proposed for equipment selection

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A numerical application of proposed approach

Table 2 Pairwise comparison matrix for criteria and weights

The proposed approach is applied in a manufacturing


company, located in Ankara, Turkey. The company wants to
purchase a few milling machines (MM) to reduce the workin-process inventory and to replace its old equipment. The
high technology equipments make significant improvements
in the manufacturing processes of the firms and the correct
decisions made at this stage brings the companies competitive advantage. Therefore, selecting the most proper milling
machines is of great importance for the company. But it is
hard to choose the most suitable one among the MMs which
dominate each other in different characteristics.
Data gathering

Criteria

Price

Weight

Power

Spindle

Diameter

Stroke

Price

1.00

0.52

0.62

0.41

0.55

0.59

Weight

1.93

1.00

2.6

1.21

1.3

2.39

Power

1.61

0.38

1.00

0.40

0.41

1.64

Spindle

2.44

0.83

2.47

1.00

0.40

0.46

Diameter

1.80

0.77

2.40

2.49

1.00

2.40

Stroke

1.69

0.42

0.61

2.17

0.42

1.00

Table 3 Results obtained from AHP computations


Criteria

Weights (w)

Price

0.090

Weight

0.244

Power

0.113

Spindle

0.266

Diameter

0.186

Stroke

0.101

max , CI, RI

CR

max = 6.201

0.032

In the application, firstly the decision making team, which


will take a part in equipment selection process, is formed.
With a preliminary work, this decision making team determined five possible milling machines suitable for the needs of
the company. The six criteria, namely price, weight, power,
spindle, diameter and stroke, which will be taken into account
in the selection process, are determined. Decision hierarchy
structured with the determined alternative equipments and
criteria is provided in Fig. 2.
There are three levels in the decision hierarchy structured
for equipment selection problem. In the first level of the hierarchy, there is the overall goal of the decision process which
is determined as the selection of the best equipment. The
criteria are on the second level and alternative MMs are on
the third level of the hierarchy.

The results obtained from the computations based on the


pairwise comparison matrix, provided in Table 2, are presented in Table 3.
The spindle, weight and diameter are determined as the
three most important criteria in the equipment selection process by AHP. Consistency ratio of the pairwise comparison
matrix is calculated as 0.032 < 0.1. So the weights are shown
to be consistent and they are used in the selection process.

AHP calculations

PROMETHEE calculations

After forming the decision hierarchy for equipment selection problem, the criteria to be used in evaluation process
are assigned weights by using AHP method. In this phase,
the experts in the decision making team are given the task
of forming individual pairwise comparison matrix by using
the scale given in Table 1. Geometric means of these values
are found to obtain the pairwise compassion matrix on which
there is a consensus (Table 2).

In this stage, firstly alternative MMs are evaluated based on


the evaluation criteria and the evaluation matrix is formed.
The evaluations of these five alternatives according to the previously stated criteria, i.e., evaluation matrix, are displayed
in Table 4.

Price

Weight

MM-1

Power

MM-2

Spindle

MM-3

Diameter

MM-4

Fig. 2 The decision hierarchy of equipment selection

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Stroke

MM-5

RI = 1.24

Table 4 Evaluation matrix


Criteria

Selection of the best


equipment

CI = 0.040

Price

Weight

Power

Spindle

Diameter

Stroke

Unit

kg

watt

rpm/min

mm

mm

Max/Min

Min

Min

Max

Max

Max

Max

Weights

0.090

0.244

0.113

0.266

0.186

0.101

MM-1

936

4.8

1,300

24,000

12.7

58

MM-2

1,265

6.0

2,000

21,000

12.7

65

MM-3

680

3.5

900

24,000

8.0

50

MM-4

650

5.2

1,600

22,000

12.0

62

MM-5

580

3.5

1,050

25,000

12.0

62

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Table 5 Preference functions


Criteria

PF

Thresholds
q

Price

Level

600

800

Weight

Gaussian

Power

Level

800

1,200

Spindle

Level

20,000

23,000

Diameter

Gaussian

Stroke

V-shape

50

Before using the PROMETHEE method to rank the


alternative milling machines, for each criterion, a specific
preference function (PF), with its thresholds is defined. Preference functions and threshold values have been defined by
the decision-making team established at the beginning of the
application. Decision-making team has set these values by
taking into consideration the features of alternative MMs
and purchasing policy of the firm. The preference functions
and thresholds defined are provided in Table 5.
After evaluation matrix and preference functions are determined, alternative MMs are evaluated by using Decision Lab
software. The positive flow ( + ), negative flow ( ) and net
flow () values obtained from this evaluation are given in
Table 6.
By using the flow values in Table 6, firstly the partial
ranking is determined via PROMETHEE I (Fig. 3). PROMETHEE I used positive and negative flow values to find the
partial ranking.
MM-3 is determined as the worst alternative according to
the PROMETHEE I partial ranking MM-5, MM-2, MM-4
and MM-1 alternatives are preferred to MM-3 alternative,
and MM-4 alternative is preferred to MM-1 alternative. On
the other hand MM-5, MM-4 and MM-2 (also MM-5 and
MM-1, MM-2 and MM-1) are incomparable alternatives.
PROMETHEE I did not provide information about the best
alternative.
Net flow values given in the last column of Table 6, are
used in PROMETHEE II complete ranking to identify the
best alternative (Fig. 4).

Table 6 PROMETHEE flows


Alternatives

MM-1

0.0199

0.0139

0.0061

MM-2

0.0553

0.0480

0.0073

MM-3

0.0192

0.0810

0.0618

MM-4

0.0298

0.0130

0.0168

MM-5

0.0478

0.0163

0.0315

Fig. 3 PROMETHEE I partial ranking

Fig. 4 PROMETHEE II complete ranking

MM-5 is selected as the best alternative based on the information PROMETHEE II provides, and the other alternatives
are ranked in the order of MM-4, MM-2, MM-1, MM-3.
The decision problem can be represented in the GAIA
plane (see Fig. 5) where alternative machines are represented
by points and criteria by vectors. In this way, conflicting criteria may appear clearly. Criteria vectors expressing similar
preferences on the data are oriented in the same direction,
while conflicting criteria are pointing in opposite directions.
The length of each vector is a measure of its power in alternative machines differentiation.
This plane is the result of principal component analysis
(PCA), projecting the 6-dimensional space of criteria onto a
two-dimensional plane, i.e., the 6 original variables are transformed to the two new variables that are obtained by two
linear combinations of the original variables. By applying
the PCA related criteria are handled by these combinations
and double counting never occurs (Albadvi et al. 2007). As
it is shown in the Fig. 5, the Delta-parameter is 95.70%; this
means only 4.3% of the total information gets lost by the
projection.

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J Intell Manuf (2008) 19:397406


Table 7 Stability intervals
Criteria

Weight

Interval
Min

Max

Price

0.090

0.0645

0.0947

Weight

0.244

0.1194

0.2569

Power

0.113

0.1083

0.1512

Spindle

0.266

0.0000

Infinity

Diameter

0.186

0.0000

0.6009

Stroke

0.101

0.0943

0.2283

Table 8 Weighted and unweighted rankings


Alternatives

Weighted

Weighted

Unweighted

ranking
MM-1

Fig. 5 GAIA plane for equipment selection

We observe that Price (Criterion 1) has a high differentiation power and expresses independent preferences, different from those expressed by most of all other criteria.
A cluster of conflicting criteria (Criterion 1 and criterion 3
expressing opposite preferences) are clearly represented. It
is also possible to appreciate clearly the quality of the alternative machines with respect to the different criteria. MM-2
(Action 2) is particularly good on Criterion 3. MM-3 (Action
3) is good on Criterion 24.
Vector pi (decision axis) represents the direction of the
compromise derived from the assignment; the decision maker
is invited to appreciate the alternative machines located in
that direction (Wang and Yang 2007). It can be seen from
Fig. 5 that pi vector is in the direction of criterion 5- criterion
6 and the closest alternatives to the pi vector are MM-4 and
MM-5. This result is consistent with the complete ranking of
PROMETHEE II.

Decision-making
According to the AHP and PROMETHEE computations, it
is decided to purchase MM-5 and MM-4. How the variation
in the criteria weights after the decision will affect the ranking is analyzed. Sensitivity analysis has been performed with
Decision Lab Software and the resulting stability intervals
values are given in Table 7. Table 7 gives for each criterion the
limits within weights values which can vary without changing the PROMETHEE II complete ranking. From the result
of sensitivity analysis, it is clear that Price (Criterion 1) and

123

0.0061

Unweighted
ranking

0.0035

MM-2

0.0073

0.0175

MM-3

0.0618

0.0855

MM-4

0.0168

0.0328

MM-5

0.0315

0.0317

Power (Criterion 3) have the greatest impacts on the complete


ranking.
The case in which criteria weights are not considered, i.e.,
the criteria have equal priorities, is analyzed and the net flow
values obtained in this condition are presented in Table 8 with
their comparisons with previous values.
The best alternative has changed according to the unweighted ranking results. The first alternatives have inter-changed,
while the other ranking remained the same. The change in the
best alternative when criteria weights are taken into account
has shown that criteria weights found consistently constitute
an important phase in decision making process.
In the scope of the application, finally, the same problem
has been analyzed with AHP, TOPSIS and ELECTRE methods and, obtained results are given in Table 9 in a comparable
manner.
When the results obtained for the same problem by using
other ranking methods are compared, it is seen that the best

Table 9 Ranks obtained with different ranking methods


Current study

AHP

TOPSIS

ELECTRE

MM-5

MM-5

MM-5

MM-5

MM-4

MM-1

MM-3

MM-1

MM-2

MM-4

MM-1

MM-4

MM-1

MM-3

MM-4

MM-3

MM-3

MM-2

MM-2

MM-2

J Intell Manuf (2008) 19:397406

alternative does not change (MM-5) while the ranking of


the alternatives changed. None of other ranking methods
has been able to produce the result obtained by integrated
AHPPROMETHEE approach. This situation has showed
that defining of different preference functions for the criteria considered in decision-making process is an important
difference effective on the decision to be made.

Conclusions and future research


In this paper, a decision approach is provided for equipment
selection problem. This selection problem is based on the
comparisons of equipment alternatives according to identified criteria. PROMETHEE and AHP compound decisionmaking methods have been used in proposed approach. With
its above-mentioned structure, the proposed approach differs from the present equipment selection literature. AHP is
used to assign weights to the criteria to be used in equipment selection, while PROMETHEE is employed to determine the priorities of the alternatives. The weights obtained
from AHP are included in decision making process by using
them in PROMETHEE computations and the alternative priorities are determined based on these weights. By this way,
weighting of the criteria considered during decision-making
and evaluation of these criteria via preference functions are
performed simultaneously. Additionally, in the application, it
is shown that calculation of the criteria weights is important
in PROMETHEE method and they could change the ranking.
The proposed decision approach can help decision-makers
to choose and analyze factors and attributes easily. In addition, the strengths of this approach over the existing methods
can be explained as follows. PROMETHEE method takes
into account the preference function of each criterion, determined by the decision-makers. By this way, each criterion is
evaluated on a different basis and it is possible to make better
decisions. PROMETHEE I identifies the alternatives which
cannot be compared and the alternatives which are indifferent, by making a partial ranking, while PROMETHEE
II provides a complete ranking for alternatives. The GAIA
plane is a useful analytical tool that some remarks can be
detected from the alternatives and criteria sets. For example, in MM evaluation, MM-3 and MM-5 are the same on
some criteria and MM-1 and MM-4 are the same on other
criteria. In addition, differentiation power of the criteria, similar criteria, independent criteria, and opposite criteria can be
determined from the GAIA analysis. By utilizing the PROMETHEE method to make sensitivity analysis of the result, the
most effective criteria in decision making are determined.
These opportunities are not available in present methods such
as AHP, fuzzy AHP, ELECTRE and TOPSIS. The proposed
model has only been implemented on an equipment selection
problem in the company, however, company management has

405

found the proposed model satisfactory and implementable in


others equipment selection decisions.
Since the parameters related with the criteria included in
the model in equipment selection in this study have been
able to be determined as crisp parameters, classical AHP
and PROMETHEE have been used. The proposed integrated
approach might be incapable if the evaluation matrix for the
alternatives (Table 4) cannot be formed with crisp values.
Some criteria could have a qualitative structure or have an
uncertain structure which cannot be measured precisely. In
such cases, fuzzy numbers can be used to obtain the evaluation matrix. This will improve the proposed method and is
one of the directions in our future research.

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