In the last decades, Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems (RMSs) rose as an emerging manufacturing strategy matching the modern industrial and market requirements asking for a wide variety of products in flexible batches. A traditional reconfigurable manufacturing environment consists of dynamic cells, called Reconfigurable Machine Cells (RMCs), including a set of machines called Reconfigurable Machine Tools (RMTs). Such machines are characterized by fixed elements, i.e., basic modules, and dynamic elements, i.e., auxiliary modules, allowing them to perform different operations. Despite their automation level, these systems require the intervention of the human operators in performing specific tasks, e.g., handling of the auxiliary modules from the warehouse to the RMTs and their assembly/disassembly to/from the RMTs. This issue rises relevant ergonomic and safety questions due to the human–machine collaboration. Following this stream, this paper proposes and applies a bi-objective optimization model for the design and management of RMSs. The technical objective function minimizes the reconfiguration time, i.e., the time needed to equip the RMTs with the required auxiliary modules, and the part and auxiliary module travel time among the RMCs. The ergonomic objective function minimizes the repetitive movements performed by the human operators during the working activities according to the ISO 11228-3 standard. Results show the existence of a good trade-off between the two objective functions, proving the possibility to improve the ergonomic conditions of the human operators without excessively increasing the total time needed for RMTs reconfiguration and for part and auxiliary module travelling.
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