Solving a Facility Layout Problem for a Manufacturer by Application of a Meta-Heuristic and Lean Objectives

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Industrial Engineering


Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Amy Thompson

Second Advisor

Lee Cromarty


Plant layout, Plant layout--Mathematical models

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS36 .N29 Ind. Engr. 2012 no.1


A manufacturer has practiced and implemented lean principles and practices for many years, achieving acknowledgement and awards for their efforts, including the Shingo Silver Medallion, which is recognized as the premier award for operational excellence and articulates the characteristics of a successful world-class lean enterprise. This manufacturer may have approached a limit, or asymptote of improvement with the current facility layout, and desires an improved facility layout based upon achieving four main lean objectives. These objectives are related to their business strategy: “Safety”, “Quality”, “Flow”, and “Efficiency”. The goal of this research is to provide a layout solution for the facility, incorporating as many of the four lean objectives as possible. The solution approach first considers improving flow using a minimization of total flow cost (TFC) objective, and then considers how to apply other flow criteria and the other three lean criteria into a multi-objective meta-heuristic for facility layout. The adapted VNZ model to a hybrid meta-heuristic found very good solutions for the manufacturer, demonstrating a real application of a meta-heuristic to a large-scale layout problem. The developed meta-heuristic was compared to Simulated Annealing, an often-used benchmark for meta-heuristics, and the developed meta-heuristic found a slightly better solution than Simulated Annealing. The facility layout problem model allocated 43 machines to a 20,000 square foot production floor, and the model solves the problem in minutes. The final proposed solution incorporates all of the manufacturer’s lean objectives, reduces total flow cost by 40% in the facility, and frees significant space for new production capacity.