Complexity in manufacturing systems and its measures: A literature review

Bugra Alkan*, Daniel A. Vera, Mussawar Ahmad, Bilal Ahmad, Robert Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Complexity in manufacturing systems still remains a challenge and leads to operational issues and increased production cost. In this paper, drivers of complexity and typical symptoms of complex manufacturing systems are identified. A comprehensive review of studies published within the last two decades to assess manufacturing system complexity are presented. The key contributions of this review are: 1) a classification of complexity assessment methods based on perceived complexity symptoms; 2) a comprehensive review of assessment methods with cross-evaluation to identify appropriate use based on available data; 3) recommendations for the wider academic and industrial community, based on research trends identified in the literature, as to how complexity assessment should be addressed in the future. It is concluded that the assessment of complexity is necessary so that it can be controlled effectively, however the industry suffers from a lack of practical tools to support in this endeavour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-150
Number of pages35
JournalEuropean Journal of Industrial Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Complexity
  • Complexity metrics
  • Literature review
  • Manufacturing systems


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