Evaluating the investment feasibility and industrial implementation of changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing concepts

Ann-Louise Andersen (Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Thomas Ditlev Brunoe (Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Kjeld Nielsen (Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Mads Bejlegaard (Department of Materials and Production, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Publication date: 16 April 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a decisions support tool that can be applied in initial stages of design, for evaluating the investment feasibility of changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing design concepts, based on future demand predictions and their uncertainties. A quantitative model is proposed, which evaluates the discounted value of capital and operating costs of changeable manufacturing design concepts, based on essential characteristics regarding their type and extent of changeability.

Design/methodology/approach

Quantitative empirical modeling is applied, where model conceptualization, validation, and implementation are central elements, using two Danish manufacturing companies as cases.

Findings

The applicability of the model is demonstrated in the two case companies, highlighting differences in type, extent, and level of feasible changeability, as a result of differences in product and production characteristics.

Research limitations/implications

Further studies of changeability implementation should be conducted across industrial fields in order to generalize findings.

Practical implications

There is currently limited support for the conceptual design phase of changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing, where critical decisions regarding type, extent, and level of changeability must be made, regardless of high degrees of uncertainty about future demand scenarios.

Originality/value

This paper expands previous research on design for changeability and reconfigurability, by explicitly considering changeability as a capability that can be enabled in various ways for various purposes in different industrial contexts. The proposed model and the case implementations provide important knowledge on the transition toward changeability in industry.

Keywords

Citation

Andersen, A., Brunoe, T., Nielsen, K. and Bejlegaard, M. (2018), "Evaluating the investment feasibility and industrial implementation of changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing concepts", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 449-477. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-03-2017-0039

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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