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Planning models for continuous supply of parts in assembly systems

Antonio C. Caputo (Department of Engineering, University of Roma Tre, Roma, Italy)
Pacifico M. Pelagagge (Department of Industrial Engineering, Information and Economics, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy)
Paolo Salini (Department of Industrial Engineering, Information and Economics, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop analytical planning models to compare just-in-time (JIT) delivery and line storage (LS) alternatives for a continuous supply of materials to assembly lines.


A mathematical model is developed to size resources and to determine total system costs.


The choice of assembly lines feeding policy requires a thorough economic comparison of alternatives. However, the existing models are often simplistic, neglecting many critical factors which affect the systems’ performances. As a consequence, industries are unsure about which system is best for their environment. This model allows to compare the cost and suitability of two major continuous-supply alternatives in any specific industrial setting. Results of the model application are case-specific and cannot be generalized.

Research limitations/implications

The model is aimed at single-model assembly lines operating in a deterministic environment. Although relevant quantitative cost drivers are included, some context-related qualitative factors are not yet included. The model assumes that the information about product structure and part requirements is known and that a preliminary design of the assembly system has been carried out.

Practical implications

Production managers are given a quantitative decision tool to properly assess the implementation of continuous material supply policies at an early decision stage, and determine which option is the best, also allowing to explore trade-offs between the alternatives.


With respect to previous simplified literature models, this new approach allows to quantify a number of additional factors which are critical for the successful implementation of cost-effective continuous-supply systems, including error costs. No other direct comparison of LS and JIT is available in the literature.



Caputo, A.C., Pelagagge, P.M. and Salini, P. (2015), "Planning models for continuous supply of parts in assembly systems", Assembly Automation, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 35-46.



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