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Expert Systems
with Applications
Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794

Computer-aided machine-tool selection based

on a Fuzzy-AHP approach
Orlando Durán *, José Aguilo
Escuela de Ingenierı́a Mecánica, Universidad Católica de Valparaı́so, Av. Los carrera 01567 quilpué, Chile


Investment evaluation methods play an important role in today’s competitive manufacturing environment. Shrinking profit margins
and diversification require careful analysis of investments and decisions regarding these investments are crucial for the survival of the
manufacturing industry. Both economic evaluation criterion and strategic criteria such as flexibility, quality improvement, which are
not quantitative in nature, are considered for evaluation. Much has been written about the deficiencies of traditional models for justifying
advanced manufacturing systems. The use of fuzzy set theory allows incorporating unquantifiable, incomplete and partially known infor-
mation into the decision model. In this paper, an analytic hierarchical process (AHP) based on fuzzy numbers multi-attribute method is
proposed for the evaluation and justification of an advanced manufacturing system. Finally, an example of machine tool selection is used
to illustrate and validate the proposed approach.
 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: AHP; Machine tools; Fuzzy numbers

1. Introduction such as payback period and return on investment, which

ignore time value of money.
Advanced manufacturing technologies (AMT) is an The conventional DCF methods do not appear to be
important item in the design of a manufacturing system. suitable on their own for the evaluation of AMT invest-
Using proper manufacturing technology can enhance ments due to the non-monetary impacts posed by the man-
the production process, provide effective utilization of ufacturing system. The inadequacy of traditional financial
resources, increase productivity and improve system flexibil- justification measures lies on their deterministic nature.
ity, repeatability and reliability. Therefore, given the wide The probabilistic cash flow analysis can be used if the
range of advanced manufacturing technologies available probabilities distributions of the possible outcomes are
today, the determination of the best equipment available known. However, when the frequency distribution of the
for a given production scenario is not an easy task. possible outcomes is not known, as in revenues and
Economic justification methods of manufacturing invest- expenses of a new production system, most decision-makers
ments have been discussed thoroughly in the past years. are reluctant to employ DCF methods during the eval-
Economic analysis methods are the basic discounted cash uation phase. Table 1 shows an updated version of the
flow (DCF) techniques such as present worth, annual classification of the justification methods for advanced
worth, internal rate of return, etc., and other techniques manufacturing technologies.
Much has been written about the deficiencies of tradi-
tional engineering economic models for justifying AMT
(Bozdag, Kahraman, & Ruan, 2003; Ordoobadi & Mulva-
Corresponding author.
ney, 2001; Shamsuzzaman, Sharif Ullah, & Bohez, 2003).
E-mail addresses: (O. Durán), jmacnat@hot- Most of the dissatisfaction revolves around the following (J. Aguilo). points:

0957-4174/$ - see front matter  2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1788 O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794

Table 1
Justification methods for advanced manufacturing technologies
Techniques Advantages Disadvantages
Economic • Payback • Ease in data collection • Do not take into account strategic and non-economic benefits
method • Intuitive appeal • Consider a single objective of cash flows, and ignore other benefits
• ROI such as quality and flexibility
Strategic • Technical • Require less technical data • Necessity to use these techniques with economic or analytic ones
importance • Use the general objectives of the firm since they consider only long-term intangible benefits
• Business
• Competitive
• R&D
Analytic • AHP • Uncertainty of the future and the multi- • Require more data
• Mathematical objectivity can be incorporated • Usually more complex than the economic analysis
Programming • Subjective criteria can be introduced in the
• Stochastic modeling phase
• Fuzzy sets

• Short term returns are emphasized rather than long term tification is observed in approximately 60% of the manu-
strategy. facturing firms responding the questionnaire.
• A variety of assumptions are made designed to deal with In the justification process of advanced information or
the uncertainty involved in predicting the future manufacturing systems, quantification of some of the
environment. revenue or quality improvements is often difficult if not
• And, the range of benefits considered is diminished due impossible. Many managers have argued that accounting
to the difficulty in quantifying many important factors. methodologies restrict the adoption and use of advanced
technologies and are incapable of quantifying many of the
According to Shamsuzzaman et al. (2000), numerous benefits offered by these systems in many organizations.
tangible and intangible benefits are expected after the intro- The analytic hierarchy process (AHP) developed by
duction of AMT. Among the intangible benefits one can Saaty (1980) is a decision-making tool that can handle
mention reduced labor costs, high capital utilization, faster unstructured or semistructured decisions with multiperson
throughput times, better quality control, increased safety and multicriteria inputs. It is a decision-rule model that
and a better response to unpredictable situations. relaxes the measurement of related factors to subjective
Sullivan and William (1986) points out the inadequacy managerial inputs on multiple criteria. AHP has several
of traditional financial justification measures of project advantages, including its acceptance of inconsistencies in
worth such as return on investment, payback, and net pres- managerial judgments/perceptions and its user friendliness
ent worth in considering the strategic merits of advanced because users may directly input judgment data without
manufacturing technologies. further requiring mathematical knowledge. It also allows
According Karsak and Tolga (2001), DCF methods users to structure complex problems in the form of a hier-
appear as the most popular economic justification method- archy or a set of integrated levels. AHP can also be com-
ology; however, determining cash flows (revenues, bined with well-known operations research techniques to
expenses) and discount rates as crisp values can lead to handle more difficult problems. One of the main advanta-
erroneous results in most real-life applications. ges of this method is the relative ease with which it handles
The results of the surveys conducted by Lefley (1994) for multiple criteria. In addition to this, AHP is easier to
justification of advanced manufacturing technology understand and can effectively handle both qualitative
(AMT) in the UK, and by Lefley and Sarkis (1997) for and quantitative data. The use of AHP does not involve
appraisal of AMT investments in the UK and US both cumbersome mathematics. AHP involves the principles of
support the difficulty in assessing AMT investments due decomposition, pair wise comparisons, and priority vector
to their non-quantifiable benefits. As a result of this diffi- generation and synthesis. The power of AHP has been val-
culty, over 80% of the respondents in the US and UK point idated by empirical application in diverse areas such as
out that not all potential benefits of AMT investments healthcare, politics, and urban planning (Karsak & Tolga,
are considered in the financial justification process. 2001). It has been used in making decisions that involve
Furthermore, the results of the surveys state that subjective ranking, selection, evaluation, optimization, and prediction
assessment of AMT investment with/without financial jus- (Lee, Lau, Liu, & Tam, 2001).
O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794 1789

Though the purpose of AHP is to capture the expert’s tive importance of each criterion during the decision
knowledge, the conventional AHP still cannot reflect the process.
human thinking style. In spite of its popularity, this A fuzzy number ~x expresses the meaning ‘about x’. Each
method is often criticized because of a series of pitfalls membership function is defined by three parameters of the
associated with the AHP technique which can be summa- symmetric triangular fuzzy number, (l, m, r), left, middle
rized as follows: and right points of the range over which the function is
defined. Fuzzy membership function and the definition of
• Its inability to adequately handle the inherent uncer- a fuzzy number are shown in Fig. 1.
tainty and imprecision associated with the mapping of When the decision-maker faces a complex and uncertain
the decision-maker’s perception to exact numbers (Lef- problem and expresses his/her comparison judgments as
ley & Sarkis, 1997). uncertain ratios, such as ‘about two times more important’,
• In the traditional formulation of the AHP, human’s ‘between two and four times less important’, etc., the stan-
judgments are represented as exact (or crisp, according dard AHP steps, and specially, eigenvalue prioritization
to the fuzzy logic terminology) numbers. However, in approach, cannot be considered as straightforward proce-
many practical cases the human preference model is dures. Indeed, the assessment of local priorities, based on
uncertain and decision-makers might be reluctant or pair wise comparisons needs some prioritization method
unable to assign exact numerical values to the compari- to be applied. Next a brief description about addition, mul-
son judgments. tiplication and division of triangular numbers is given. The
• Although the use of the discrete scale of 1–9 has the fuzzy operators were adapted from Chiu and Park (1994).
advantage of simplicity, the AHP does not take into Let A and B be two triangular fuzzy numbers, with their
account the uncertainty associated with the mapping parameters as follows:
of one’s judgment to a number.
e ¼ ða1 ; a2 ; a3 Þ
In order to overcome the aforementioned shortcomings, e ¼ ðb1 ; b2 ; b3 Þ
a fuzzy extension of AHP, was developed to solve the hier-
archical fuzzy problems. In the next sections a Fuzzy-AHP
Then, fuzzy numbers multiplication is defined by
technique is proposed, and an example for the evaluation
and justification of advanced manufacturing system is eB
A e ¼ ða1  b1 ; a2  b2 ; a3  b3 Þ ð1Þ
At the other hand, fuzzy numbers division is defined as
2. Fuzzy-AHP methodology follows:
The Fuzzy-AHP methodology extends Saaty’s AHP by e B
A= e ¼ ða1 =b3 ; a2 =b2 ; a3 =b1 Þ ð2Þ
combining it with the fuzzy set theory. In the Fuzzy-
AHP, fuzzy ratio scales are used to indicate the relative Whilst the reciprocal value of a triangular fuzzy number
strength of the factors in the corresponding criteria. There- (a, b, c) is given by (1/a, 1/b, 1/c). The power of a triangular
fore, a fuzzy judgment matrix can be constructed. The final fuzzy number is given by
scores of alternatives are also represented by fuzzy num-
bers. The optimum alternative is obtained by ranking the e n ¼ ða1 ; a2 ; a3 Þn ¼ ðan ; bn ; cn Þ
A ð3Þ
1 2 3
fuzzy numbers using special algebra operators.
The next three steps can summarize the procedure of As seen in Fig. 2, the relative importance of a number over
applying Fuzzy-AHP: other fuzzy number is gradual and not abrupt.
Let w
~ i be a set of decision maker’s opinion of the relative
(i) Construct a hierarchical structure for the problem to importance of the one alternative over other one. The
be solved. meaning of each fuzzy number is defined in Table 2.
(ii) Establish the fuzzy judgment matrix and a fuzzy Using this scale we have the comparison matrix A, e
weight vector. where aij elements represent the estimative of the wi/wj
(iii) Rank all alternatives and select the optimal one. relation

In this methodology, all elements in the judgment

matrix and weight vectors are represented by triangular 1 x=m 1
fuzzy numbers. Using fuzzy numbers to indicate the rela- x−l l≤x≤m (1)
tive contribution or impact of each alternative on a crite- m−l μ(x)
rion, a fuzzy judgement vector is then obtained for each n−x
n−m m≤x≤n
criterion. The fuzzy judgment matrix A is built with all 0 otherwise
0 l m n
the fuzzy judgement vectors. The weight vector W is used
to represent the decision maker’s opinion of the rela- Fig. 1. Membership function of a triangular number.
1790 O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794

9 As the traditional AHP methodology, eigenvector is to
be normalized according the next relation
T ¼ ðw1 =Rwi w2 =Rwi w3 =Rwi ; . . . ; wn =Rwi Þ
where T is the normalized eigenvector. From this normal-
Fig. 2. Saaty’s scale expressed as fuzzy sets. ized eigenvector the priorities or importance of the attri-
butes under analysis is extracted.
Table 2 In order to control the result of the method, the consis-
Saaty’s scale expressed in fuzzy numbers tency ratio [need] * needs * to be calculated. The deviations
Relative importance Definition from consistency are expressed by the following equation:
1 Equal importance k max n
3 Weak importance CI ¼ ð8Þ
5 Strong importance
7 Demonstrated importance over the other The consistency ratio (CR) is used to directly estimate the
9 Absolute importance consistency of pairwise comparisons. The CR is computed
by dividing the CI by a value obtained from the table of
Random Consistency Index (RI) created by Saaty
f1 =f
w w1 f2 =f
w w1 ... fn =f
w w1
f1 =f
w w2 f2 =f
w w2 ... fn =f
w w2 ð4Þ CR ¼ CI=RI

A f1 =f
w wn f2 =f
w wn ... fn =f
w wn If the CR is less than 10%, the comparisons are acceptable,
otherwise not. RI represents the average index for ran-
Experts’ judgments or preferences among the options using domly generated weights.
Saaty’s scale is represented now by triangular numbers to Since kmax is a triangular number, it has to be defuzzified
express subjective pairwise comparisons or capture certain into a crisp number to compute the CI. We suggest here
degree of vagueness (Table 3). using the central value of kmax, because of the symmetry
We know that matrix A is a real and positive matrix. As of the triangular number, the central value corresponds
well as, since aij = 1/aji, if i is not equal to j, A is a recipro- to the centroid of the triangular area.
cal matrix.
Next, the eigenvector, eigenvalue and the IC index are 3. Case study
calculated, now taking these parameters as fuzzy numbers.
To estimate the fuzzy eigenvector from A matrix the In this section, the proposed methodology is applied to a
next equation is used case study, in order to prove its applicability and validity.
Yn A new CNC turning center investment decision of a given

Vi ¼ aij ð5Þ manufacturer was taken into consideration. A triplet of
j¼1 decisions makers was asked to evaluate a set of three alter-
Therefore, we have natives machine tools (MT1, MT2, MT3). After a set of
interviews, a series of six qualitative attributes was selected
V 1 ¼ ða  
11  a12  a13      a1n Þ ð6Þ to perform the analysis. The six attributes are: flexibility,
 operation easiness, reliability, quality, implementation eas-
1=n iness and maintainability. This six attributes are repre-
V n ¼ ða   
n1  an2  an3      ann Þ ð7Þ sented by the six following symbols: AT1, AT2, AT3,
Eigenvector Vi is compound by the n triangular numbers AT4, AT5 and AT6 respectively. Once the decision makers
defined as perform the pairwise comparisons for the set of attributes
the A matrix is obtained (Table 3). This comparison matrix
V ¼ ðV 1 ; V 2 ; . . . ; V n Þ
is constructed by using Saaty’s scale but now with triangu-
where Vi is a triangular number defined as (Vl, Vm, Vu). lar numbers.

Table 3
Comparisons matrix of the attributes considered for selection of machine tools
AT1 (1,1,3) (1/5,1,1/3) (5,7,9) (1,3,5) (1,3,5) (5,7,9)
AT2 (1,3,5) (1,1,3) (7,9,9) (1,3,5) (1,3,5) (7,9,9)
AT3 (1/9,1/7,1/5) (1/9, 1/9,1/7) (1,1,3) (1/7, 1/5, 1/3) (1/7, 1/5, 1/3) (1,3,5)
AT4 (1/5,1,1/3) (1/5,1,1/3) (3,5,7) (1,1,3) (1/5,1,1/3) (3,5,7)
AT5 (1/5,1,1/3) (1/5,1,1/3) (3,5,7) (1,3,5) (1,1,3) (3,5,7)
AT6 (1/9, 1/7,1/5) (1/9, 1/9,1/7) (1/5,1,1/3) (1/7, 1/5,1/3) (1/7, 1/5,1/3) (1,1,3)
O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794 1791

To find the relative importance or priorities of the six (Buckley, 1985; Mikhailov & Tsvetinov, 2004), among
attributes eigenvector, eigenvalue and the RC index are them we propose the utilization of the representative meth-
to be computed. Thus, the eigenvector (with triangular val- od, which is given by the following relation:
ues) is as follows:
b ¼ a1 þ 2a2 þ a3
A ð9Þ
V ¼ ðð1:3 2:3 4:3Þð1:9 3:6 5:6Þð0:3 0:4 0:6Þð0:6 0:98 2:3Þ 4
where A = (a1,a2,a3) is a triangular number and A b repre-
 ð0:8 1:4 3:0Þð0:2 0:2 0:5ÞÞ
sents the representative ordinal of a triangular number.
Considering this method, the second element of the
Before performing the normalizations an additional fuzzy eigenvector is the highest value and corresponds to the sec-
ranking procedure is needed in order to compare fuzzy ond attribute (AT2) operation easiness.
scores and to obtain a linear order among them. There The normalization process yields a new form of the
are a number of procedures to perform the ranking process eigenvector in which each entry is a triangular number,
as follows:
Table 4
Fuzzy pairwise comparisons for the alternative machines
V ¼ ðð0:03 0:26 2:42Þð0:04 0:40 3:17Þð0:01 0:04 0:34Þ
Maq1 Maq2 Maq3  ð0:01 0:11 1:30Þð0:02 0:16 1:70Þð0:004 0:03 0:26ÞÞ
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00 ) (0.20 0.33 1.00) For testing the consistency of the resulting eigenvector,
Maq2 (1.00 3.00 5.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00) (1.00 3.00 5.00) Saaty proposed the following relation:
Maq3 (1.00 3.00 5.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00)
kmax ¼ V  w ð10Þ
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.33 1.00 1.00) (0.33 1.00 1.00) where w is computed by the sum of the columns of the pref-
Maq2 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.33 1.00 1.00) erences matrix
Maq3 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00)
W ¼ ðð2:6 5:0 10:4Þð1:8 2:2 6:3Þð19:2 27:3 36:0Þ
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (3.00 5.00 7.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00)  ð4:3 10:4 18:7Þð3:5 7:7 14:7Þð20:0 30:0 40:0ÞÞ
Maq2 (0.14 0.20 0.33) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.14 0.20 0.33)
Maq3 (0.33 1.00 1.00) (3.00 5.00 7.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) Next kmax is calculated by
AT4 kmax ¼ ð4:13 6:47 12:73Þ
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (7.00 9.00 9.00) (5.00 7.00 9.00)
Maq2 (0.11 0.11 0.14) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.14 0.20 0.33) Then, to calculate the CI (crisp) we used the central value
Maq3 (0.11 0.14 0.20) (3.00 5.00 7.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) of the triangular number kmax.
AT5 CI ¼ ð6:47  6Þ=5 ¼ 0:09
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00) (0.33 1.00 1.00)
Maq2 (1.00 3.00 5.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (1.00 3.00 5.00) In addition, RC is computed
Maq3 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.20 0.33 1.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00)
RC ¼ 0:09=1:24 ¼ 0:07 < 0:10
Maq1 (1.00 1.00 3.00) (4.00 6.00 8.00) (2.00 4.00 6.00) This proves the total consistency of the evaluations ex-
Maq2 (1.00 3.00 5.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) (0.20 0.30 1.00) pressed by the comparisons matrix. Based on the weight
Maq3 (0.17 0.25 0.50) (1.00 3.00 5.00) (1.00 1.00 3.00) vector (eigenvector) the priorities or relative importance
of the attributes are as follows: AT2, AT1, AT5, AT4,
AT3 and AT6. Next, the three possible turning centers
were compared with each of the six attributes. The corre-
Table 5
sponding fuzzy pairwise comparison matrices are shown
Eigenvectors of the machine alternatives and their six attributes
in Table 4.
VAT1 ((0.1 0.2 1.0) (0.1 0.5 1.8) (0.1 0.3 1.4))
Next, we can find the scores of the alternative machines
VAT2 ((0.1 0.3 0.8) (0.1 0.3 1.0) (0.1 0.3 1.2))
VAT3 ((0.2 0.4 1.2) (0.1 0.2 0.5) (0.1 0.4 1.0)) and their six attributes, shown in Table 5.
VAT4 ((0.3 0.6 1.1) (0.10.2 0.3) (0.1 0.3 0.6)) The local weights of all machines for each attribute are
VAT5 ((0.1 0.3 1.0) (0.1 0.5 1.8) (0.1 0.3 1.2)) obtained by multiplying their relative weights by the
VAT6 ((0.2 0.5 1.3) (0.1 0.3 0.9) (0.1 0.3 0.8)) weights of the attributes. Table 6 shows these local weights.

Table 6
Local weights for the machine alternatives and their six attributes
Maq1 (0.06 0.22 1.05) (0.09 0.33 0.82) (0.16 0.41 1.22) (0.29 0.57 1.10) (0.07 0.27 1.03) (0.17 0.47 1.27)
Maq2 (0.10 0.46 1.79) (0.11 0.33 0.99) (0.07 0.18 0.51) (0.08 0.15 0.32) (0.10 0.46 1.76) (0.09 0.27 0.87)
Maq3 0.08 0.32 1.37 0.13 0.33 1.19 (0.13 0.41 1.01) (0.13 0.27 0.56) (0.08 0.27 1.23) (0.09 0.26 0.78)
1792 O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794

Table 7 LAB 7.0 on a PC platform. The operation sequence is

Overall classification vector (with triangular numbers) based on the sequence of the steps shown before.
Maq1 (0.01 0.33 9.07) Initially, the user must input the selected evaluation cri-
Maq2 (0.01 0.36 11.28) teria into the machine tool alternatives. The software pro-
Maq3 (0.01 0.31 10.46)
totype keeps a database with a series of about twelve
attributes that the user can select to perform the compari-
The overall classification can be obtained by multiplying son analysis. Additionally, the attribute database contains
(triangular product) the weights matrix (Table 6) by the a set of eight generic attributes labeled as ‘‘attribute I’’
transposed eigenvector of the attributes (Table 6). Table where I stands for the number of a given attribute. Next,
7 shows the overall classification vector. the user(s) must fill in the pairwise comparisons matrix
Thus the priority scores for the machine alternatives are for the attributes. Secondly, the software solves and
obtained, and they are ranked based on their magnitude obtains an/the eigenvector, eigenvalue and CI leading to
the priority weight for each attribute. The second part of
Maq1 2:43 the software deals with the identification of the machine
Maq2 3:00 ð11Þ tool alternative that best suits the attributes selected by
Maq3 2:77 the user(s), considering the priority weights obtained
for the attribute level (part I of the software). The results
Thus, Machine 3 must be selected by the users or recom- of the analysis process are presented to the user in a specific
mended by the AHP fuzzy methodology. screen as shown in Fig. 3. In conventional AHP the pair-
wise comparisons are made using crisp numbers and ratios.
The developed software allows the user to express the
4. Proposed software degree of uncertainty associated with the mapping of one’s
perception or judgement to a fuzzy scale using sliders in
As can be easily seen, AHP with fuzzy numbers requires each comparisons matrix cell.
many time-consuming calculations. Depending on the Once the comparison matrix is entirely filled with impor-
number of attributes and alternatives taken into consider- tance values (using fuzzy scale), the system provides the
ation, a lot of time is necessary to make all calculations eigenvector and eigenvalue, plus the consistency value
in order to reach the final solution. As the number of attri- (Fig. 4).
butes increases, the dimension of the problem expands. If total consistency is proved, the system provides the
This could lead to a great number of mathematical and ranking of the attributes according to the information
fuzzy operations. Therefore, software aid may be very use- input by the user. In the second part of the software, the
ful to automatically carry out the Fuzzy-AHP process. user must input the pair wise comparisons between two
A software prototype for Fuzzy-AHP application was specific machine tools. This task is made according each
developed. The software was programmed using MAT- of the considered attributes (Fig. 5).

Fig. 3. Screen shot of Preference matrix.

O. Durán, J. Aguilo / Expert Systems with Applications 34 (2008) 1787–1794 1793

Fig. 4. Analysis results.

Fig. 5. Comparison matrix among projects for each one of the criteria. Fig. 6. Final results.

In the final screen of the system, the results of analysis method and as well as other Fuzzy based approaches for
are shown in Fig. 6. machine tool selection, mainly because of its simplicity
and the possibility of incorporating subjective parameters.
5. Conclusions
In this paper a Fuzzy-AHP based Software for selecting
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