Deconstructing bottleneck shiftiness: The impact of bottleneck position on order release control in pure flow shops

Matthias Thürer, Ting Qu, Mark Stevenson, Cong Dong Li, George Q. Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Bottleneck shiftiness is an important managerial problem that negatively affects shop floor manageability. It has therefore received much research attention. Yet research has focused on how protective capacity can be used to influence bottleneck shiftiness rather than on assessing its operational impact. The latter is complex to evaluate since changing the degree of bottleneck shiftiness influences utilization, which makes the results of different experimental settings non-comparable. To overcome this problem, we take a different approach. Bottleneck shiftiness is decomposed by investigating its underlying phenomenon: the impact of the bottleneck position. Using simulation, we demonstrate that tighter control can be exercised, and better performance achieved, the further upstream the bottleneck is positioned. It is consequently important to be aware of the direction of the bottleneck shift. If the bottleneck shifts upstream, performance is likely to improve rather than deteriorate as is implicitly assumed in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1223-1235
Number of pages13
JournalProduction Planning and Control
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bottleneck analysis
  • bottleneck position
  • Constant Work-In-Process (ConWIP)
  • Drum-Buffer-Rope
  • Workload Control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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