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Robustness assessment in production systems

Christian Stockmann (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Herwig Winkler (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)
Martin Kunath (Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 9 February 2021

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




The concept of robustness in manufacturing is not easy to capture and even harder to quantify. This paper elaborates an approach to assess robustness in production systems from a holistic input-throughput-output perspective using a pragmatic robustness indicator.


First, in order to have a precise understanding of what needs to be measured, a concept of robustness in production systems is defined based on a literature overview. Three different aspects are considered to be essential to comprehensively describe robustness in production: the deviations of input resources, of performance and of output. These aspects are translated into an aggregated indicator based on developments of production costs, order delays and output volumes. The indicator-based assessment approach is eventually applied to a flow-shop scheduling case study in the chipboard industry.


The study shows that an assessment of robustness should not solely focus on a single aspect of a production system. Instead, a holistic view is required addressing the tradeoffs that robustness must balance, such as the one between the realized performance, the corresponding resource requirements and the resulting output. Furthermore, the study emphasizes that robustness can be interpreted as a superior system capability that builds upon flexibility, agility, resilience and resistance.

Research limitations/implications

First, the paper is a call to further test and validate the proposed approach in industry case studies. Second, the paper suggests a modified understanding of robustness in production systems in which not only the deviation of one single variable is of interest but also the behavior of the whole system.

Practical implications

The approach allows practitioners to pragmatically evaluate a production system’s robustness level while quickly identifying drivers, barriers and tradeoffs.


Compared to existing assessment approaches the proposed methodology is one of the first that evaluates robustness in production systems from a holistic input-throughput-output perspective highlighting the different tradeoffs that have to be balanced. It is based upon a comprehensive concept of robustness which also links robustness to adjacent capabilities that were otherwise only treated separately.



Stockmann, C., Winkler, H. and Kunath, M. (2021), "Robustness assessment in production systems", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 932-951.



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