A model for multi-input manufacturing systems with in-process buffers is introduced based upon the concepts of system and subsystem reliability. A set of parameters is proposed for evaluating the effectiveness of individual buffers in relation to the total system. Through the technique of computer simulation an economic analysis of the use of buffers can be conducted by considering the reliability of facilities, downtime characteristic, work volume, labor cost, buffer cost, and buffer size limitations. The application of the model was demonstrated through an analysis conducted on an existing automotive Hood Assembly Line. The economic advantage and buffer size requirements as predicted by the manufacturing model are supported by the experience of plant management.

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