On the design of a flow line with intermediate buffers and mixed corrective maintenance


  • Julia Zimmermann




flow line, buffer, spare parts, corrective maintenance


We considered a mixed corrective maintenance policy for machines in a two-machine one-buffer flow line. The machines had stochastic processing times and suffered from unexpected failures. In the case of a failure, the machines were either minimally repaired or their failing components were replaced by spare parts. While the replacement strategy is rapid and the system can be considered new thereafter, spare parts provisioning and storage costs are very high. Thus, we additionally considered minimal repairs, which are less expensive and restore the system to a working condition at a minimum. We modeled the system as a continuous-time Markov chain. This approach was used to measure the performance of the flow line and the mixed corrective maintenance policy employed. To facilitate design decisions for the flow line, we considered both the cost of an interstage buffer and the maintenance costs for machines in line. We formulated an optimization problem based on a profit function that enables the simultaneous optimization of the buffer size and maintenance strategy. Our numerical analyses reveal useful insights into the performance and optimal design of the flow line depending on the utilized maintenance strategy.