Increased demand on product variety entails a flexible assembly system for product families which can be quickly configured and reconfigured in a responsive manner to deal with various product designs. Development of such a responsive assembly system requires an in-depth understanding of the impact of product family design on assembly system performance. In this paper, the linkage between the product family design and assembly systems is characterized by an assembly hierarchy model, which reflects a hierarchical relationship among all possible sub-assemblies and components, assembly tasks, and material flow among the tasks. Our prior research developed a recursive algorithm to generate all assembly hierarchy candidates for one single product based on its liaison graph without redundancy. These generated assembly hierarchies provide a structure to help efficiently explore optimal assembly system designs with reduced computational load. In this paper, the application of the assembly hierarchy generation algorithm will be extended to a product family by developing joint liaison graph model. Taking the advantage of the modular design of the product family, we proposed a concept of multi-level joint liaison graphs to overcome the computational challenge brought by assembly hierarchy generation for joint liaisons. Two case studies were conducted to demonstrate the algorithm.

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