In an automotive production system, material handling is a critical activity in terms of increasing system efficiency and reducing overall cost. The existing literatures often separate the production system and material handling system, and ignore the coupling relations between the two systems. In this paper, an integrated modeling approach is developed to mathematically describe a dynamic production system including production operation and material handling system. A modified max-plus algebra based model with “shifting” mechanism is developed to overcome the synchronization constraints of traditional max-plus linear properties, and adapt to the dynamic change of the system under various conditions, such as starvation caused by material handling. The case study demonstrates that the new modeling approach is effective and efficient (180 times faster comparing with simulation method) in real-time system analytics and control to improve productivity and reduce cost.

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