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ISSN : 1598-7248 (Print)
ISSN : 2234-6473 (Online)
Industrial Engineering & Management Systems Vol.17 No.3 pp.514-530

Integration of Bucket Brigades and Worker Collaboration on a Production Line with Discrete Workstations

Aditya Tirta Pratama, Katsuhiko Takahashi*, Katsumi Morikawa, Keisuke Nagasawa, Daisuke Hirotani
Department of System Cybernetics, Graduate School of Engineering Hiroshima University, Japan
Faculty of Management and Information Systems, Prefectural University of Hiroshima, Japan
* Corresponding Author, E-mail:


Bucket brigades are self-balancing production lines in which each worker can move from one station to the next to continue working on a given part. Sequencing workers from slowest-to-fastest is the best policy for maximizing throughput on a continuous line. Meanwhile, throughput at discrete workstations may decrease due to blocking even though workers are properly sequenced. A method of countering the blocking condition is proposed by integrating bucket brigades and worker collaboration such that a maximum of two workers can collaborate on the same task. Prior assumptions are utilized to investigate and compare the performance of a production line in which the work content of the product at each station is deterministic and the collaboration velocity is proportional to the sum of the individual worker velocities and is influenced by the collaboration coefficient. Possible extended conditions for improvement and a procedure for achieving possibly higher throughput through worker collaboration are described. The characteristics of a self-balancing line can still be preserved, and an improvement in performance can be obtained. The results show that a bucket brigade with worker collaboration between fully cross-trained workers, slowest-to-fastest sequencing, and an additive collaboration coefficient almost always outperforms one without worker collaboration in terms of maximizing throughput.