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Summary of a Heuristic Line Balancing Procedure

Fred M. Tonge
Management Science
Vol. 7, No. 1 (Oct., 1960), pp. 21-42
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2627015
Page Count: 22
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Summary of a Heuristic Line Balancing Procedure
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Abstract

This paper presents a heuristic procedure for balancing production assembly lines and a computer program for carrying out that procedure. This research was undertaken to investigate the application of complex information processing techniques (as used in producing the Chess Machine and Logic Theorist) to a typical industrial problem. The assembly line balancing problem is stated as: Given an assembly process made up of elemental tasks, each with a time required per unit of product and an ordering with other tasks, what is the least number of work stations needed to attain a desired production rate? The heuristic procedure for assembly line balancing consists of three phases: a) repeated simplification of the initial problem by grouping adjacent elemental tasks into compound tasks; b) solution of the simpler problems thus created by assigning tasks to work stations at the least complex level possible, breaking up the compound tasks into their elements only when necessary for a solution; c) smoothing the resulting balance by transferring tasks among work stations until the distribution of assigned time is as even as possible. The heuristics used in each phase are considered in some detail. Appropriate means for mechanizing such a procedure are discussed, and operating results of the program on actual problems are presented.

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