Buffers can improve the efficiency of manufacturing systems by accommodating the negative impacts of machine stoppage and maximize the system throughput. Buffers are often designed and integrated into manufacturing systems.
This study investigates the effects of small internal buffers on the throughput of serial manufacturing systems using discrete-event simulation (DES). For a serial manufacturing system, its internal buffer can be designed as an idle station or a small conveyor. In the study, typical automotive assembly lines are used as serial manufacturing systems. In addition, the capacity of a small internal buffer and two small buffers are studied for optimal throughput. The study results provide a general approach on where to assign small internal buffers in serial manufacturing systems and what the effects of such buffers and their configurations are.