Purpose – This paper aims to introduce, apply and validate, through a realistic case study, an analytical cost model to support the design of the tow-train feeding system for mixed-model assembly lines managed according to the just-in-time concept. The fleet size and inventory level, minimizing the total annual cost, are the key model goals, while the tow-train shipping capacity and the service level are the decisional variables to set. Design/methodology/approach – The model computes the material handling, inventory and stockout rising costs of the tow-train feeding system and looks for their minimization. It further computes the expected lead time between consecutive round-trips and the Kanban card number, distinguishing among parts and assembly lines, overcoming the simplifying hypothesis assuming a constant lead time for all parts. The model is validated against a dedicated case study stressing its strengths in terms of cost and inventory-level reduction. Findings – The proposed approach is found to be effective if compared to the standard literature in the field of Kanban system design. The 10.76 per cent cost saving is experienced for the considered case study, and the inventory level is closer to the field-experienced profile. Practical implications – The model adopts a practical perspective, making it easy and applicable to common operative industries. Originality/value – The literature neglects to consider the differences in the part consumption when estimating the lead time between tow-train round-trips. The proposed model overcomes such limitations and strengthens the model applicability and performances.
Assembly Automation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 2, 2015