Strong component-based methodology for facility layout design
Among many issues involved within the field of manufacturing systems, the design of facilities layout is an ongoing and interesting research field, where new solutions and approaches are sought to determine the appropriate location and physical organisation of the resources in manufacturing systems. Issues such as space, material handling, machine placement and orientation, utilities location, and environmental factors are important features that may be considered when establishing the requirements of a facility layout design. The facility layout design can be thought of in terms of interconnecting work centres that can be represented by a set of interrelated vertices in a graph. Directed graphs can be used to characterise each product operation sequence, which combined into a single directed graph, be used to represent appropriately a layout design. Doing this together with the material handling system requirements, will allow better facilities planning and may improve process sequences that should be reflected in better designs. The Strong Component Based Methodology proposed here, obtains a graphical structure from the integration of various products and using their operation sequences to produce a relationship diagram. The attributes of the resultant structure are used to create this diagram. The objective is to obtain layouts that minimise material handling, that is, as close as possible to that which can be obtained with dedicated facilities for each product family but without the capital costs involved in the case of the latter. Encouraging results have been obtained by considering strong components, a feature of directed graphs, because less computational resources than in the case of many previous methods, which use Quadratic Assignment Problem approaches, are required to formulate and produce a relationship diagram. Moreover, this approach produces faster designs than other graph theoretic approaches because it avoids using planar and dual graphs. These characteristics allow the Strong Components approach to address more complex situations and obtain comparable or better solutions than previous approaches. The proposed Strong Component approach is a robust and versatile tool to support layout designs. It is a robust methodology because it provides efficient relationship diagrams even in cases when the resultant structure has relatively few strong component relationships. It is a versatile approach, because it can address various situations and can use different criteria to create layouts. Thus, the proposed approach offers effective-economical relationship diagrams to produce the same set of products as when producing them in dedicated facilities.