U-Shaped Cells Operating Modes: a Review and a Hands-on Simulation Comparison

Anabela Carvalho Alves

Increased demands of different products put some challenges to the production system layout that are not well addressed by the job-shop neither flow-lines layout. Cellular production is a production system layout that enables higher productivity than job-shop and greater flexibility than flow-lines and it is appointed as a better layout to face the product and volumes changes occurring in the companies. The cells design involves the operating mode selection for the U-shaped cell. Operating modes are the way the operators are organized inside a cell. This could take the form of working balance, baton touch, rabbit chase, bucket-brigades or Toyota Sewing System (TSS). This paper reviewed these Ushaped cells operating modes attending to the literature and also using some industrial case studies from real implementations in companies working with cells. For comparing the operating modes a hands-on simulation was performed by student teams in the classroom. This method was used so that it could be possible to simulate aspects related with operators: skills, teamwork, cross-training or motivation. The operating modes were compared through some performance measures like production output, productivity, efficiency, WIP and defects. The operating modes have some similarities and dissimilarities and knowing them it is possible to select an adequate operating mode for a specific production environment. This research could