Linking product design to flexibility in an assembly system: a case study

Narges Asadi (School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden)
Mats Jackson (School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden)
Anders Fundin (School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Publication date: 5 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The recent shift towards accommodating flexibility in manufacturing companies and the complexity resulting from product variety highlight the significance of flexible assembly systems and designing products for them. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design from the assembly system’s standpoint.

Design/methodology/approach

To fulfil the purpose of the paper, a literature review and a case study were performed. The case study was conducted with an interactive research approach in a global market leader company within the heavy vehicle manufacturing industry.

Findings

The findings indicate that common assembly sequence, similar assembly interfaces, and common parts are the main requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design which reduce complexity and facilitate various flexibility dimensions. Accordingly, a model is proposed to broaden the understanding of these requirements from the assembly system’s standpoint.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the overlapping research area of flexible assembly systems and product design.

Practical implications

The proposed model is largely based on practical data and clarifies the role of product design in facilitating flexibility in an assembly system. It can be used by assembly managers, assembly engineers, and product designers.

Originality/value

The key originality of this paper compared to the previous studies lies in presenting a novel assembly-oriented design model. The model enhances understanding of a flexible assembly system’s requirements for product design with regard to reducing complexity and managing variation in a flexible assembly system. These requirements can be applied to product design across various product families within a company’s product portfolio.

Keywords

Citation

Asadi, N., Jackson, M. and Fundin, A. (2017), "Linking product design to flexibility in an assembly system: a case study", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 610-630. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-10-2016-0144

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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