One way to coordinate workers along an assembly line that has fewer workers than work stations is to form a bucket brigade. The throughput of a bucket brigade on discrete work stations may be compromised due to blocking even if workers are sequenced from slowest to fastest. For a given work distribution on the stations we find policies that maximize the throughput of the line. When workers have very different production rates, fully cross-training the workers and sequencing them from slowest to fastest is almost always the best policy. This policy outperforms other policies for most work distributions except for some cases in which limiting the work zones of workers produces higher throughput. In environments where the work can be adjusted across stations, we identify conditions for a line to prevent blocking.
bucket brigades, assembly lines, work stations, cross-training, work sharing
Management Sciences and Quantitative Methods | Operations and Supply Chain Management
Areas of Excellence
Analytics for Business, Consumer and Social Insights
Production and Operations Management
LIM, Yun Fong and YANG, Kum Khiong.
Maximizing Throughput of Bucket Brigades on Discrete Work Stations. (2009). Production and Operations Management. 18, (1), 48-59. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/2639