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This paper investigates the effect of various part launching decisions on the performance of a flexible manufacturing system (FMS). A typical FMS configuration has been developed for the purpose of experimentation. The parts to be processed in the system are known at the beginning of the scheduling period. Each operation of a part type can be performed on one or two (primary and secondary) or three (primary, secondary and tertiary) different machines depending on the routing flexibility level present in the system. Different levels of penalties (increased processing times) are considered for the alternative machines. A discrete-event simulation model is developed. The scheduling decisions considered are launching of parts into the system (part launching decision), routing of parts through various machines (part routing decision) and sequencing of parts for processing on machines (part sequencing decision). These decisions are handled by using various scheduling rules. The performance of the FMS is evaluated by using measures such as mean flow time, mean tardiness, makespan and mean machine utilization.