Identifying Bottlenecks in Manufacturing Systems using Stochastic Criticality Analysis

System design is a difficult process with many design-choices for which the impact may be difficult to foresee. Manufacturing system design is no exception to this. Increased use of flexible manufacturing systems which are able to perform different operations/use-cases further raises the design complexity. One important criterion to consider is the overall makespan and associated critical path for the different use-cases of the system. Stochastic critical path analysis plays a fundamental role in providing useful feedback for system designers to evaluate alternative specifications, which traditional fixed-time analysis cannot.

In this paper, we extend our formal model-based framework, for the specification and design of manufacturing systems, with stochastic analysis abilities by associating a criticality index to each action performed by the system. This index can then be visualized and used within the framework such that a system designer can make better informed decisions. We propose a Monte-Carlo method as an estimation algorithm and we explicitly define and use confidence intervals to achieve an acceptable estimation error. We further demonstrate the use of the extended framework and stochastic analysis with an example manufacturing system.