Simulation-based multi-objective optimization for reconfigurable manufacturing systems : Reconfigurability, manufacturing, simulation, optimization, rms, multi-objective, knowledge discovery

Abstract: In today’s global and aggressive market system, for manufacturing companies to remain competitive, they must manufacture high-quality products that can be produced at a low cost; they also must respond efficiently to customers’ predictable and unpredictable needs and demand variations. Increasingly shortened product lifecycles, as well as product customization degrees, lead to swift changes in the market that need to be supported by capable and flexible resources able to produce faster and deliver to the market in shorter periods while maintaining a high degree of cost-efficiency. To cope with all these challenges, the setup of production systems needs to shift toward Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMSs), making production capable of rapidly and economically changing its functionality and capacity to face uncertainties, such as unforeseen market variations and product changes. Despite the advantages of RMSs, designing and managing these systems to achieve a high-efficiency level is a complex and challenging task that requires optimization techniques. Simulation-based optimization (SBO) methods have been proven to improve complex manufacturing systems that are affected by predictable and unpredictable events. However, the use of SBO methods to tackle challenging RMS design and management processes is underdeveloped and rarely involves Multi-Objective Optimization (MOO). Only a few attempts have applied Simulation-Based Multi-Objective Optimization (SMO) to simultaneously deal with multiple conflictive objectives. Furthermore, due to the intrinsic complexity of RMSs, manufacturing organizations that embrace this type of system struggle with areas such as system configuration, number of resources, and task assignment. Therefore, this dissertation contributes to such areas by employing SMO to investigate the design and management of RMSs. The benefits for decision-makers have been demonstrated when SMO is employed toward RMS-related challenges. These benefits have been enhanced by combining SMO with knowledge discovery and Knowledge-Driven Optimization (KDO). This combination has contributed to current research practices proving to be an effective and supportive decision support tool for manufacturing organizations when dealing with RMS challenges.