A systemic approach to the design of cellular manufacturing systems

  • P.A. Lewis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Cellular manufacturing is widely acknowledged as one of the key approaches to achieving world-class performance in batch manufacturing operations. The design of cellular manufacturing systems (CMS) is therefore crucial in determining a company's competitiveness. This thesis postulated that, in order to be effective the design of CMS should not only be systematic but also systemic. A systemic design uses the concepts of the body of work known as the 'systems approach' to ensure that a truly effective CMS is defined.
The thesis examined the systems approach and created a systemic framework against which existing approaches to the design of CMS were evaluated. The most promising of these, Manufacturing Systems Engineering (MSE), was further investigated using a series of cross-sectional case-studies. Although, in practice, MSE proved to be less than systemic, it appeared to produce significant benefits. This seemed to suggest that CMS design did not need to be systemic to be effective. However, further longitudinal case-studies showed that the benefits claimed were at an operational level not at a business level and also that the performance of the whole system had not been evaluated.
The deficiencies identified in the existing approaches to designing CMS were then addressed by the development of a novel CMS design methodology that fully utilised systems concepts. A key aspect of the methodology was the use of the Whole Business Simulator (WBS), a modelling and simulation tool that enabled the evaluation of CMS at operational and business levels. The most contentious aspects of the methodology were tested on a significant and complex case-study. The results of the exercise indicated that the systemic methodology was feasible.
Date of AwardSept 1994
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDouglas M Love (Supervisor)


  • simulation
  • cellular manufacturing
  • group technology
  • enterprise modelling
  • manufacturing systems design

Cite this