Operator allocation planning for reconfigurable production line in one-of-a-kind production

Xinggang Luo, Wei Li, Yiliu Tu, Deyi Xue, Jiafu Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In a one-of-a-kind production (OKP) company, the operation routing and processing time of an order are usually different from the others due to high customisation. As a result, an OKP company needs to dynamically adjust the production resources to keep the production lines reconfigurable. Through a proper assignment of operators in different sections of a production line, bottlenecks and operator re-allocation during production can be reduced effectively. In this paper, a mathematical model is introduced for optimal operator allocation planning on a reconfigurable production line in OKP. The optimisation objectives are to minimise the total number of the operators, total job earliness and tardiness, and the average work-in-process storage. A branch-and-bound algorithm with efficient pruning strategies is developed to solve this problem. The proposed model and the algorithm are empirically validated by using the data of a windows and doors manufacturing company. A software system based on the proposed approach has been implemented in the company.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-705
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is financially supported by the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Strategic Project grant, NSERC Discovery grant, Gienow Windows and Doors LP (Calgary, Canada) and the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC Projects 70871020, 70721001 and 70625001). The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their constructive comments and suggestions.


  • branch-and-bound
  • one-of-a-kind production (OKP)
  • operator allocation
  • optimisation
  • production planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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