A continuous approach to considering uncertainty in facility design

Bryan A. Norman, Alice E. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This paper presents a formulation of the facilities block layout problem which explicitly considers uncertainty in material handling costs on a continuous scale by use of expected values and standard deviations of product forecasts. This formulation is solved using a genetic algorithm meta-heuristic with a flexible bay construct of the departments and total facility area. It is shown that depending on the attitude of the decision-maker towards uncertainty, the optimal design can change significantly. Furthermore, designs can be optimized directly for robustness over a range of uncertainty that is pre-specified by the user. This formulation offers a computationally tractable and intuitively appealing alternative to previous stochastic layout formulations that are based on discrete scenario probabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1760-1775
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and Operations Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Block layout
  • Facilities
  • Genetic algorithms
  • Heuristics
  • Optimization
  • Production uncertainty


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