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Web Based Problem Solving Environment For Line Balancing Automated Manufacturing Systems

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Lean Manufacturing and Integration

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1460.1 - 10.1460.10



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Paper Authors

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Hyejeong Kim

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Sheng-Jen Hsieh

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Web-Based Problem-Solving Environment for Line Balancing Automated Manufacturing Systems Sheng-Jen Hsieh1, Hyejeong Kim2 1 Dept. of Engineering Technology and Dept. of Mechanical Engineering 2 Dept. of Educational Psychology Texas A&M University, College Station, TX


This paper describes a web-based problem-solving environment designed to teach line balancing of automated manufacturing systems. This environment was designed based on analytic and simulation models of an assembly line. Simulation models were first designed and used to derive data about work-in-process amounts, workstation utilization, cycle times and amount of finished product under different parameter settings, such as processing time and arrival rate. Regression models were then designed to mimic these results. The data from these models were then used as a basis for designing Flash animations. The line balancing problem-solving environment allows students to make adjustments to a simulated production line, and to run the simulation to view the results. The environment was evaluated by 28 undergraduate students enrolled in a production systems course and by 39 students who had completed a production systems course within the past two years. Students completed a pre-test before using the environment and a post-test afterwards. Differences between students’ pre- and post-test scores were significant (α = .05). Future directions include using the environment for research on system integration skill development, field testing with engineers from industry, and design of a “construction set” for robotic work-cell line balancing.

1. Background

Simulation games have become increasingly popular in training and education in recent years. Forssen and Haho1 present an overview of social simulation game methods in training and participative development. They noted that these methods enable individual learning and promote both single-loop and double-loop types of organizational learning. In engineering education, simulation games have been used in teaching the software engineering development process2, electromagnetic education3,4, digital logic5, concurrent engineering for product/process development6, supply chain management in automobile manufacturing7, electronic/circuit card design, assembly, fabrication, and distribution 8,9,10, and general manufacturing planning and quality management activities11,12. One particularly interesting simulation game is a virtual disk drive design studio described by Richkus et al.13 Students must design and launch new disk drives within a certain time frame, simulating the idea of time-to-market. Students can build on three different kinds of learning styles: (1) literature search and abstract theory; (2) consultations with experts; and (3) design studio.

The first author recently received an NSF grant to investigate how engineers develop automated manufacturing system integration skills. In the course of interviewing engineers from automated system design companies, we learned that line balancing automated systems in the final stage

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Kim, H., & Hsieh, S. (2005, June), Web Based Problem Solving Environment For Line Balancing Automated Manufacturing Systems Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14835

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