Postprint version. Published in International Journal of Production Research, Volume 43, Issue 10, May 1, 2005, pages 2101-2111. Copyright © 2005 Taylor & Francis. The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207540412331329176.
The performance of cellular manufacturing (CM) systems in a variable demand and flexible workforce environment has been examined using simulation modelling. Discrepancies between academicians and practitioners' findings with respect to flexibility and uneven machine utilization in CM systems are discussed. The views of two parties were incorporated in simulation models to rectify the existing discrepancies. While the results of this study confirm the previous findings of academicians regarding the deterioration of the performance of CM in a variable product mix situation, it appears that those results may be significantly influenced by considering a flexible workforce. The simulation results show that the practice of using flexible crossed-trained operators can improve the flexibility of CM in dealing with an unstable demand and can reduce load imbalance inherent in machine dedication in manufacturing cells.