A Virtual Cellular Manufacturing Approach to Batch Production
In this paper, Virtual Cellular Manufacturing (VCM), an alternative approach to implementing cellular manufacturing, is investigated. VCM combines the setup efficiency typically obtained by Group Technology (GT) cellular manufacturing (CM) systems with the routing flexibility of a job shop. Unlike traditional CM systems in which the shop is physically designed as a series of cells, family-based scheduling criteria are used to form logical cells within a shop using a process layout. The result is the formation of temporary, virtual cells as opposed to the more traditional, permanent, physical cells present in GT systems. Virtual cells allow the shop to be more responsive to changes in demand and workload patterns. Production using VCM is compared to production using traditional cellular and job shop approaches. Results indicate that VCM yields significantly better flow time and due date performance over a wide range of common operating conditions, as well as being more robust to demand variability.