Estimating net ideal cycle time for body-in-white production lines

  • W.C. Grobler
  • D.J. Kotze
  • J.W. Joubert
Keywords: Automotive industry, design of production systems, capacity planning, investment appraisal, cycle time estimation, body-in-white.


In the automotive industry, a Body-in-White (BIW) refers to the first step, the basic structure, in the production of a vehicle. Once a BIW production line has been built, the (maximum) capacity is fixed and throughput is therefore limited by the equipment specified during the design phase. The main metric used to inform the production line design is the Net Ideal Cycle Time (NICT). Unfortunately the state of practice to estimate the NICT is a basic heuristic that does not account for production variation. In this paper we challenge the current estimation approach by proposing an alternative that assumes actual production to follow a Weibull distribution. The proposed model is derived and estimated from empirical data. The results suggest that BIW production lines have traditionally been designed with too low a capacity, resulting in planned throughput rarely being achieved. On the other hand, increasing the design capacity implies higher initial investment. In this paper it is demonstrated that the higher investment required is offset by reduced losses, resulting in more reliable planning and returns.


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eISSN: 0529-191-X