This chapter discusses the Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS); many studies have been dedicated to this matter in the french laboratory (Laboratory of Computer Science, Modelisation and Optimization) (LIMOS)) at Clermont-Ferrand. This problem is only a link of the supply chain that corresponds to the production activity. It is true that the FMS are logistic systems that make it possible to cope with all vertical synchronization problems, from conception to steering flows, including dimensioning.
We would like to show in this chapter that taking into account the lower decision-making level can generate better decisions at the higher level.
FMS are totally automated systems, gathering productions means (machines or flexible cells) that are interconnected by a transportation network. The transportation is accomplished, for instance, by an electric guidance system, optical fiber (wire guidance) or rail tracks which allow autonomous vehicles to move around the workshop. The downside of these systems is that they require a heavy investment, but they can reduce longterm cost because of their flexibility and adaptability.
Figure 10.1 shows four classic FMS layouts with four machines, which are those used in the case library that will serve as test. The LU (Load/Unload) station is the place of entry and exit of the parts for the system. The arrows indicate the path sense on each section of the transportation ...