Throughput Optimization in Robotic Cells with Input and Output Machine Buffers: A Comparative Study of Two Key Models
European Journal of Operational Research, 2010
13 Pages Posted: 16 May 2012
Date Written: 2010
We consider the problem of scheduling operations in a robotic cell processing a single part type. Each machine in the cell has a one-unit input buffer and a one-unit output buffer. The machines and buffers are served by one single gripper robot. The domain considered is free-pickup cells with additive intermachine travel time. The processing constraints specify the cell to be a flow shop. The objective is to find a cyclic sequence of robot moves that minimizes the long-run average time to produce a part or, equivalently, maximizes throughput. Bufferless robotic cells have been studied extensively in the literature. However, the few studies of robotic cells with output buffers at each machine have shown that the throughput can be improved by such a configuration. We show that there is no throughput advantage in providing machine input buffers in addition to output buffers. The equivalence in throughput between the two models has significant practical implications, since the cost of providing additional buffers at each machine is substantial.
Keywords: robotic cells, input/output, machine buffers, cyclic scheduling
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation