Materials Handling in Production Systems: Design and Performance of Kit Preparation
Doctoral thesis, 2019

This thesis focuses on processes for kit preparation, which are applied with the materials supply principle of kitting in production systems for mixed-model assembly. With kitting, assembly processes are supplied with portions of pre-sorted components, and each portion makes up a kit that holds the components needed for one assembly object at one or several assembly processes. When kitting is applied, picking activities, which are otherwise performed at assembly processes, are instead carried out in a process for kit preparation. Kit preparation involves collecting components designated for a particular assembly object into a single unit load that is delivered to assembly.

Kitting is widely seen as beneficial for quality and flexibility in assembly processes when there are a large variety of components. Performance effects in assembly processes normally associated with kitting largely depend on the performance of kit preparation. Previous research indicates that a picking system’s design greatly impacts its performance. While research that has dealt with kit preparation points out several design aspects that can affect its performance, the available knowledge is far from exhaustive. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge of how kit preparation design aspects govern kit preparation performance.

Case research, experiments, and modelling have been used to study how flexibility, kit quality and man-hour efficiency are affected by kit preparation design aspects related to work organisation, layout, policies, packaging, equipment, picking information, automation and control. Two case research studies respectively address kit preparation flexibility and kit quality, identifying how kit preparation design aspects can be configured to support these two performance areas. Two experiments focus on how picking information systems and confirmation methods affect kit preparation man-hour efficiency. One modelling study focuses on how collaborative robots can support man-hour efficient kit preparation. Through involvement in three research projects and an extensive review of the literature, this research has been guided by the needs of industry and by previously established knowledge.

This thesis contributes to theory and to practice in the form of knowledge about relationships between kit preparation design aspects and the performance areas flexibility, kit quality and manhour efficiency. The theoretical contribution consists of building upon and underpinning the limited
knowledge about the topic that has been previously available, while also adding new knowledge. This includes, for example, glasses with integrated computer displays, RFID-scanning wristbands, and collaborative robots, and how they are linked to kit preparation performance. The practical contribution consists of concise yet holistic descriptions of relationships between kit preparation design and performance, which industry can readily adopt with some consideration to the situation’s characteristics.


kit preparation

order picking

materials supply systems

Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8
Opponent: Christoph Glock, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Tyskland


Patrik Fager

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Supply and Operations Management

Kit preparation for mixed model assembly – efficiency impact of the picking information system

Computers and Industrial Engineering,; Vol. 129(2019)p. 169-178

Journal article

Kit preparation for mixed-model assembly: efficiency impact of confirmation methods

Industrial Management and Data Systems,; Vol. 119(2019)p. 547-560

Journal article

Fager, P., Hanson, R., Medbo, L. and Johansson, M. I. "Supporting flexibility of kit preparation for mixed-model assembly"

Fager, P., Hanson, R., Medbo, L. and Johansson, M. I. "Links between kit quality and kit preparation design”

Fager. P., Calzavara, M. and Sgarbossa, F. "Cobot-supported kit preparation for mixedmodel assembly”

Production excellence through preparation of component kits

In production, many different components are often needed. A typical approach to facilitate assembly work is to provide the components needed for each product in a single package – a kit. It is important that the process in which kits are prepared – the kit preparation – shows satisfactory performance, such that kits are prepared quickly and hold the correct components. This thesis focuses on how to make kit preparation flexible, high-quality, and man-hour efficient.

The thesis is based on five research studies. The results show, for example, how glasses with integrated computer displays, RFID-scanning wristbands, and collaborative robots can be used to improve kit preparation. The thesis also identifies several ways to prevent kit errors and to improve flexibility when adapting kit preparation to changes in production requirements.

The thesis covers a wide range of situations for when different technologies are suitable to apply. Thereby, manufacturing companies can easily adopt the findings in their own business environments. The thesis lays foundations for future research by, for example, pointing out that more effective ways of tracing and recording kit errors are needed in industry, and that digital information in kit preparation has a potential to enhance flexibility. There is also a need for future research on ways to automate kit preparation, and to understand how it affects performance.

Framväxande digitala teknikers tillämpbarhet som plockstöd inom materialhantering

VINNOVA (2016-05477), 2017-02-01 -- 2018-01-31.

AKTA - Automation of Kitting, Transport and Assembly

VINNOVA, 2016-10-01 -- 2018-12-31.

Utformning av processer för effektiv materialkonfigurering

VINNOVA (2013-05626), 2014-06-01 -- 2016-11-30.

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Information Science

Information Systemes, Social aspects

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance





Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4610



Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8

Opponent: Christoph Glock, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Tyskland

More information

Latest update