Work-sharing in production systems is a modern approach that improves throughput rate. Work is shifted between cross-trained workers in order to better balance the material now in the system. When a serial system is concerned, a common work-sharing approach is the Bucket-Brigade (BB), by which downstream workers sequentially take over items from adjacent upstream work- ers. When the workers are located from slowest-to-fastest and their speeds are deterministic, it is known that the line does not suffer from blockage or starvation, and achieves the maximal theoretical throughput rate (TR). Very little is known in the literature on stochastic self-balancing systems with work-sharing, and on BB in particular. This paper studies the basic BB model of Bartholdi & Eisenstein (1996) under the assumption of stochastic worker speeds. We identify settings in which conclusions that emerge from deterministic analysis fail to hold when speeds are stochastic, in particular relating to worker order assignment as a function of the problem parameters.
Progress in Material Handling Research: 2016
Bukchin, Yossi; Hanany, Eran; and Khmelnitsky, Eugene, "Throughput Rate of a Two-worker Stochastic Bucket Brigade" (2016). 14th IMHRC Proceedings (Karlsruhe, Germany – 2016). 7.