This paper addresses the buffer-sizing problem in cellular manufacturing systems. In view of the complex problem structure, an efficient cost-based approach is developed to determine the total buffer capacity and to allocate the buffer spaces to each machine cell. The cost function to be minimized includes the set-up cost to install the buffer storage and the cost of production loss due to limited buffer storage. The first phase of the approach utilizes steady-state queuing statistics to determine the rough-cut buffer size, which is then allocated to each machine cell. In the second phase, a one-dimensional, line-search based procedure is used to determine the minimal cost buffer design. Finally, a local improvement routine is used for the cost minimization. The computational procedure is illustrated by a large, industry-size example. Limited computational results demonstrate the viability of the proposed approach.
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