In this study, an m-machine flexible robotic manufacturing cell consisting of CNC machines is considered. The flexibility of the machines leads to a new class of robot move cycles called the pure cycles. We first model the problem of determining the best pure cycle in an m-machine cell as a special travelling salesman problem in which the distance matrix consists of decision variables as well as parameters. We focus on two specific cycles among the huge class of pure cycles. We prove that, in most of the regions, either one of these two cycles is optimal. For the remaining regions we derive worst case performances of these cycles. We also prove that the set of pure cycles dominates the flowshop-type robot move cycles considered in the literature. As a design problem, we consider the number of machines in a cell as a decision variable. We determine the optimal number of machines that minimizes the cycle time for given cell parameters such as the processing times, robot travel times and the loading/unloading times of the machines.
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