Bucket brigades revisited: Are they always effective?

Hans Armbruster, Esma Gel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Previous work on the dynamics of bucket brigades has focused on systems in which workers can be ordered with respect to their speeds and where this ordering does not change throughout the line. While this assumption is valid in most environments, it may not be satisfied in some. We consider such environments and explore the conditions under which bucket brigades continue to be effective (compared to a traditional static allocation) with respect to self-balancing behavior and throughput performance. A two worker bucket brigade is studied where one worker is faster than the other over some part of the production line and slower over another part of the line. We analyze the dynamics and throughput of the bucket brigade in two environments with passing and blocking. We present the dynamics of the system in each region of the parameter space and provide insights and operating principles for the implementation and management of the bucket brigades under various scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-229
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006


  • Bucket brigades
  • Dynamical analysis
  • Dynamics of production systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


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