Course syllabus

PPU160 – Production Systems


7,5 Credits

Compulsory course in the Master Programme

Production Engineering

In Chalmers University of Technology

Gothenburg, Sweden



Professor Johan Stahre


Telephone: +46(0)317721288


Course administrator

PhD student Liang Gong


Telephone: +46(0)317728312

Master Programme responsible

PhD Anders Skoogh


Telephone: +46(0)317724806

Purpose of the course

Students graduated from Chalmers Master's Programme in Production Engineering must have achieved the knowledge and judgment skills to be able to conceptualize, develop and improve production systems with an emphasis on sustainability.

The primary objective is to convey fundamental knowledge about production systems and to serve as a foundation for further learning in more specialized courses within the Master's Programme. A second objective is to give the students proficiency in design of production systems with focus on following established methodologies to reach organizational goals.

Learning objectives

After the course, the students will be able to:

LO1.  Compare important paradigms in the history of production systems and project the impact of trends like digitalisation on the future of production system development. 

LO2.  Explain the main elements of production systems and how they can be integrated strategically in production systems design.

LO3. Analyze and improve the Level of Automation (LoA) in a production system considering both physical and cognitive aspects.

LO4.  Describe a set of engineering tools for production systems development and understand production equipment design and installation. 

LO5.  Describe the fundamentals of innovation theory and relate its importance to the historical and future progress of production systems.

LO6. Assess the environmental impact of a production system from a product life cycle perspective.

LO7. Design and develop high performing production flows with regard to capacity, productivity, reliability, and costs.

LO8. Explain the relation between production systems design and system dependability, and analyze the impact of service and maintenance on production performance.

Course content and organization

The course covers the following topics:

  •   History and future trends of production systems and production paradigms.
  •   Manufacturing strategies and fundamental elements of production systems
  •   Innovation theory.
  •   Life cycle assessment in production systems and manufacturing supply chains.
  •   Level of automation for a production system.
  •   Production flows, line balancing and sequencing.
  •   Application of analytical and digital tools for conceptualization, design and improvement of production systems’ performances.


The students will learn the course content by using a problem-oriented pedagogy supported by lectures. Lecturers from industry and academia, one factory visit with associated analysis, and lab training. The evaluation of learning outcomes will be performed using three assessment tasks throughout the course: report and seminar from the factory visit, reports related to the lab exercises, and a final written exam.



Written examination dates:  2019-10-26, 02:00 pm, and 2019-01-09, 08:30 am (re-exam). 

The dates are tentative, when you sign up for the exam, you will get the exact date and time. 

It is compulsory to sign up for the exam in order to join a session examination. 


The grading scale is: Failed, 3, 4 and 5.

The points are summed up and result in the following scale:

40-50 points   = 5 (the maximum grade cannot exceed 50 points).

30-39 points   = 4

20-29 points   = 3

0-19   points   = Failed

The final grade includes the points from four assignments and the final written exam:

Four assignments:

  • Graded reports and seminars from the factory visit (assignment 1)  + Factory Heroes Game (assignment 2) + Level of automation (LOA) (assignment 3) + Production flows (PF) and Line Balancing (LB)  (assignment 4) 
  • Grading scale of each assignment: (Failed); (Approved + 0 bonus points); (Approved + 1 bonus point); (Approved + 2 bonus points)
  • maximum 8 bonus points, with a maximum of 2 bonus points per assignment.
  • The expectations from each assignment, which determine the grade, are explained in each exercise in the Assignments section.
  • All assignments must be approved to pass the course.


Final written exam:

  • Maximum 50 points, 20 points at least are necessary to pass the written exam. The 20 points do not include the bonus points from the assignments.

Assignments and deadlines


The course has four assignments: company visit activity, one Factory Heroes Game and Level of automation (LOA), Production flows (PF) and Line Balancing (LB) exercises. Detail information about each assignment is posted in the Assignments section.


Company visit activity

Examination: deliverables + seminar

Deadline: 2019-09-12 08:00 am. Seminar 2019-09-20 15:00-17:00

Both report and poster presentation will be graded. 


Factory Hero Game

Examination: Game participation + seminar (quiz)

Compulsory participation in the seminar. The quiz will be done during the seminar, followed by discussion. The results of the quiz will be graded (Failed/Passed 0/1/2)


Level of automation

Start date: 2019-09-26

In preparation for the exercise session, download the app "Level of Automation", available on Google Play and AppStore.

Examination: LOA game + LOA seminar

Deadline: 2019-09-30


Production flows (PF) and Line Balancing (LB) (lab)

Examination: deliverables of the two lab exercises (PF + LB)  +seminar (discussion format).

Deadline: TBD by teacher in lecture 


To be able to access the lab without supervision you need to fill out a security form.  The form will be accessible in another course called "PSL, safety and access". 



Powerpoint presentations available at the course homepage on Ping Pong.

Scientific papers are available from Chalmers library web-page or on Ping Pong.

Paper1:  Brown, S. & Maylor, H., 2005, Strategic resonant firms, mass producers, big fish & flat liners: a study of policies, practices & performance in innovation, Technovation, Vol. 25, pp. 307-319.

Paper2:  Skinner, W., 1969, Manufacturing – missing link in corporate strategy, Harvard Business Review, May-June, pp. 136-145.

Paper3:   Rebitzer, T. Ekvall, R. Frischknecht, D. Hunkeler, G. Norris, T. Rydberg, W.-P. Schmidt, S. Suh, B.P. Weidema, D.W. Pennington, 2004, Life Cycle assessment Part 1: Framework, goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, and applications, Environmental International 30, pp. 701-72.

Paper4:  Kara, S., Hauschild, M.Z. and Herrmann, C., 2018. Target-driven Life Cycle Engineering: Staying within the Planetary Boundaries. Procedia CIRP, 69, pp.3-10..

Paper5:  Sundin, E., & Bras, B., 2005, Making functional sales environmentally and economically beneficial through product remanufacturing. Journal of Cleaner Production, 13(9), pp. 913-925.

Paper6: Fasth, Å. & Stahre, J., 2013, Cognitive Automation Strategy -For reconfigurable and sustainable assembly systems. Assembly Automation, Vol. 33.

Paper7:  Fast-Berglund, Å, Fässberg, T., Hellman, F., Davidsson, A. & Stahre, J., 2013, Relations between complexity, quality and cognitive automation in mixed-model assembly. Journal of Manufacturing Systems, 32, pp. 449-45.

Paper8:  Mattsson, S., Tarrar, M. & Fast-Berglund, Å. (2016) Perceived Production Complexity – understanding more than parts of a system. International Journal of Production Research vol. 54 (20). DOI: 10.1080/00207543.2016.1154210.

Paper9:  Rahman, S., 1998, Theory of Constraints – a review of the philosophy and its applications, International Journal of Production and Operations Management, Vol. 18, pp. 336-355.

Paper10: Garg, A., & Deshmukh, S. G., 2006,. Maintenance management: literature review and directions. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering, 12(3),pp.  205-238.


 A text book, available as ebooks at Chalmers library.:

Bellgran, M. and Säfsten, K. (2010) Production Development: Design and Operation of Production Systems, Authors: Springer: London.

Note: For Swedish speakers, a previous version of the book in Swedish might be considered in case: 1) it is not possible to find the English paper book available and 2) the option of consulting the English e-book is excluded. 

Bellgran, M. and Säfsten, K. (2010) Produktionsutveckling : Utveckling och drift av produktionssystem, ISBN 9789144033600. 

 Reading directions


All Powerpoint material from the lecturers are available and necessary as basis for both the exercises and the preparation for the exam.

Reading directions for each lecture are provided in the table below. Chapter numbers refer to the course textbook by Bellgran and Säfsten. Paper numbers refer to the scientific papers listed before. Further reading directions will be given by the lecturers.




Introduction to production systems

Ch. 1 & 2

Main elements and principles

Ch. 3

Manufacturing strategies

Papers 1 & 2

Innovations in production systems

Ch. 12

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of PS

Paper 3

Sustainable Production

Paper 4

Remanufacturing, reuse, and recycling

Paper 5

Automation Strategies and Level of Automation 

Ch 8.2.5 & Ch 12.2.3

Papers 6,7 & 8

Production flows and line balancing

Paper 9

Maintenance and reliability

Ch. 11, Paper 10

Course summary:

Date Details Due