The measurement of flexibility in manufacturing systems

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This article provides a theoretical basis for measuring the flexibility of manufacturing systems. The concept of multiple levels of measures (necessary, capability, actual, inflexibility, and optimality) for each flexibility type is introduced. Capability and actual measures are then developed for machine, routing, process, product, and volume flexibilities. For each of these flexibility types, a state defining variable is identified. A measure of flexibility is then derived by computing either, (i) the change effort expended in moving between states, (ii) the drop in system performance in moving between states, (iii) a general or physical scale of difference between two successive states, or (iv) a measure combining all three. The use of the developed measures is illustrated via a two-facility example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-93
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Flexible Manufacturing Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • Flexibility measurement
  • Flexible manufacturing systems


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