A new framework considering uncertainty for facility layout problem

  • Jamal Oheba

Student thesis: Phd


In today's dynamic environment, where product demands are highly volatile and unstable, the ability to design and operate manufacturing facilities that are robust with respect to uncertainty and variability is becoming increasingly important to the success of any manufacturing firm in order to operate effectively in such an environment. Hence manufacturing facilities must be able to exhibit high levels of robustness and stability in order to deal with changing market demands. In general, Facility Layout Problem (FLP) is concerned with the allocation of the departments or machines in a facility with an objective to minimize the total material handling cost (MHC) of moving the required materials between pairs of departments. Most FLP approaches assume the flow between departments is deterministic, certain and constant over the entire time planning horizon. Changes in product demand and product mix in a dynamic environment invalidate these assumptions. Therefore there is a need for stochastic FLP approaches that aim to assess the impact of uncertainty and accommodate any possible changes in future product demands.This research focuses on stochastic FLP with an objective to present a methodology in the form of a framework that allows the layout designer to incorporate uncertainty in product demands into the design of a facility. In order to accomplish this objective, a measure of impact of this uncertainty is required. Two solution methods for single and multi period stochastic FLPs are presented to quantify the impact of product demand uncertainty to facility layout designs in terms of robustness (MHC) and variability (standard deviation). In the first method, a hybrid (simulation) approach which considers the development of a simulation model and integration of this model with the VIPPLANOPT 2006 algorithm is presented. In the second method, mathematical formulations of analytic robust and stable indices are developed along with the use of VIPPLANOPT for solution procedure. Several case studies are developed along with numerical examples and case studies from the literature are used to demonstrate the proposed methodology and the application of the two methods to address different aspects of stochastic FLP both analytically and via the simulation method. Through experimentation, the proposed framework with solution approaches has proven to be effective in evaluating the robustness and stability of facility layout designs with practical assumptions such as deletion and expansion of departments in a stochastic environment and in applying the analysis results of the analytic and simulation indices to reduce the impact of errors and make better decisions
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMargaret Emsley (Supervisor)


  • unequal area departments,QAP, equal area departments
  • Facility Layout Problem( FLP), stochastic(FLP), uncertainty,simulation approach, robust index, stable index

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