Reports on the 1999 Manufacturing Week exhibition and in particular on the Automation, Production and Maintenance Equipment (APME) section. It highlights a number of assembly equipment vendors who increasingly are supplying flexible systems to meet the demand of smaller batch manufacture. A number of application examples are described, including assembly and test of weigh scales, a kettle base and a current sensor for white goods. Another prime technology identified is vision, which is becoming much more transparent in part‐feeding systems. Some vendors promoted the application of vision to robot guidance and an application is given of loading machining centres with several automotive castings delivered randomly on a fixtureless conveyor belt. Finally, a number of new transport systems introduced at the show are identified.
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