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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2017

Narges Asadi, Mats Jackson and Anders Fundin

The recent shift towards accommodating flexibility in manufacturing companies and the complexity resulting from product variety highlight the significance of flexible

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.

Details

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-038X

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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Xi-Ning Li, Xiao-Gang Dang, Bao-Qiang Xie and Yu-Long Hu

– The purpose of this paper is to develop digital flexible pre-assembly tooling system for fuselage panels.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop digital flexible pre-assembly tooling system for fuselage panels.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the paper analyzes the technological characteristics of fuselage panels and then determines the pre-assembly object. Second, the pre-assembly positioning method and assembly process are researched. Third, the panel components pre-assembly flexible tooling scheme is constructed. Finally, the pre-assembly flexible tooling system is designed and manufactured.

Findings

This study shows the novel solution results in significantly smaller tooling dimensions, while providing greater stability. Digital flexible assembly is an effective way to reduce floor space, reduce delivery and production lead times and improve quality.

Practical implications

The tooling designed in this case is actually used in industrial application. The flexible tooling can realize the pre-assembly for a number of fuselage panels, which is shown as an example in this paper.

Originality/value

The paper suggests the fuselage panel pre-assembly process based on the thought including pre-assembly, the automatic drilling and riveting and jointing, and constructs a flexible tooling system for aircraft fuselage panel component pre-assembly.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 35 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2001

Juhani Heilala and Paavo Voho

Market turbulence forces assembly plants to constantly adjust their production volume of products, variants and quantities. At the same time, assembly plant managers must…

Abstract

Market turbulence forces assembly plants to constantly adjust their production volume of products, variants and quantities. At the same time, assembly plant managers must protect long‐term investments in the flexible assembly system. For reconfigurability and agility the best solution is the modular semi‐automatic approach by combining flexible automation and human skills. It gives managers possibility to adjust volume by adding new modules or to automate the manual tasks step by step. The control of material handling and information flow in the agile assembly system is important. To keep flexibility, the combination of an intelligent pallet, i.e. use of escort memory, carrying a single product together with other hardware providing paperless production even supports a lot size of one. The article shows how to create flexible capability and capacity in the final assembly systems.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2013

Giulio Rosati, Maurizio Faccio, Andrea Carli and Aldo Rossi

Flexible automated assembly is an emerging need in several industries. The purpose of this paper is to address the introduction of an innovative concept in flexible

Abstract

Purpose

Flexible automated assembly is an emerging need in several industries. The purpose of this paper is to address the introduction of an innovative concept in flexible assembly: the fully flexible assembly system (F‐FAS).

Design/methodology/approach

After an analysis of the state of the art, the authors describe the proposed F‐FAS, from a layout, constitutional elements, functioning principles and working cycle point of view. Second, the authors compare the traditional FAS and the manual assembly system versus the proposed F‐FAS according to their throughput and unit production costs, deriving a convenience map as a function of the number of components used in assembly and of the efficiency of the F‐FAS. Finally, using a prototype work cell developed at the Robotics Laboratory of University of Padua, the authors validate the F‐FAS concept.

Findings

Results of the research indicate that the concept of full‐flexibility can be exploited to bring automation to a domain where traditional FAS are not competitive versus manual assembly. In fact, the F‐FAS outperforms both traditional FAS and manual assembly, in terms of unit direct production costs, when the size of the batch is small, the number of components used in assembly is large and the efficiency of the F‐FAS is reasonably high. The F‐FAS prototype demonstrated the possibility of working, for certain conditions (models/components/production mix), in the F‐FAS convenience area, highlighting the achievable cost reduction versus traditional assembly systems.

Originality/value

The novelty of the study lies in the F‐FAS concept, its performances in terms of flexibility, compactness, throughput and unit direct production costs. A prototype work cell validated the concept and demonstrated its viability versus traditional assembly systems, thanks to convenience analysis.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2002

N.F. Edmondson and A.H. Redford

The development of a generic flexible assembly system involves the design, selection and integration of a number of different mechanical systems in order to develop an…

Abstract

The development of a generic flexible assembly system involves the design, selection and integration of a number of different mechanical systems in order to develop an assembly system, which is capable of assembling a wide variety of products having an unknown specification. A specific system configuration being dependent on a variety of factors such as, product size, weight, component insertion direction, and manipulator geometry. This paper examines each of the factors that should be considered when designing a generic flexible assembly system and presents a novel generic flexible assembly system design.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2000

Peter Gröndahl and Mauro Onori

The Assembly Systems Unit at the Royal Institute of Technology and IVF Stockholm has developed several Flexible Automatic Assembly (FAA) cell solutions over the years…

Abstract

The Assembly Systems Unit at the Royal Institute of Technology and IVF Stockholm has developed several Flexible Automatic Assembly (FAA) cell solutions over the years (Mark I, Mark II, Mark IIF and Mark III). The industrial reality, however, clearly points out that the basic notions of flexibility must be extended and be enhanced without increasing the complexity. This has led our research team to revise the ideas and solutions available for manual and automatic assembly, resulting in the Hyper Flexible Automatic Assembly (HFAA) project. The paper describes the driving factors behind the needs and objectives for the HFAA project, as well as how it will present a standardised set of assembly process‐oriented system components. The paper also describes the new Mark IV application. This industrial HFAA system is being developed in order to test the concept’s industrial viability. The HFAA concept will allow the user to start from a manual assembly station and gradually add assembly equipment. The basic concepts of stepwise automation, standard assembly machine and sub‐batch principle emanate from our previous research.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1989

Sushil Rajput and David Bennett

Flexible Assembly Systems (FASs) are normally associated with theautomatic, or robotic, assembly of products, supported by automatedmaterial handling systems. However…

Abstract

Flexible Assembly Systems (FASs) are normally associated with the automatic, or robotic, assembly of products, supported by automated material handling systems. However, manual assembly operations are still prevalent within many industries, where the complexity and variety of products prohibit the development of suitable automated assembly equipment. This article presents a generic model for incorporating flexibility into the design and control of assembly operations concerned with high variety/low volume manufacture, drawing on the principles for Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) and Just‐in‐Time (JIT) delivery. It is based on work being undertaken in an electronics company where the assembly operations have been overhauled and restructured in response to a need for greater flexibility, shorter cycle times and reduced inventory levels. The principles employed are in themselves not original. However, the way they have been combined and tailored has created a total manufacturing control system which represents a new concept for responding to demands placed on market driven firms operating in an uncertain environment.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 9 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 17 February 2012

Roongrat Pisuchpen

In the real world many companies combine the operations of manufacturing, assembly and disassembly. Thus, the integration of just‐in‐time FMS, FAS, and flexible

Abstract

Purpose

In the real world many companies combine the operations of manufacturing, assembly and disassembly. Thus, the integration of just‐in‐time FMS, FAS, and flexible disassembly system (DAS) models poses an interesting problem. The purpose of this paper is to provide major emphasis on a new simulation model for design and performance evaluation of a flexible assembly and disassembly system with dual Kanban under a stochastic system. This paper also primarily investigates the effect of varying the number of kanban cards, mean inter‐arrival time of demand and locations of the bottlenecks on the performance integration of JIT flexible manufacturing, assembly and disassembly systems.

Design/methodology/approach

Simulation is carried out in ARENA and data is analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). This paper investigates the effect of varying number of kanban cards, mean inter‐arrival time of demand, and locations of the bottlenecks on the performance integration of JIT flexible manufacturing, assembly and disassembly systems. The performance measures that are simultaneously considered are the fill rate, work in process, and mean cycle time. This paper emphasizes that understanding the interactions between the variables and their effects on system performance is of utmost importance for managers in improving performance processes.

Findings

In manufacturing practice, there are many industrial units that represent the mixture of the referred three models. This paper presents a new simulation model for design and performance evaluation of a flexible assembly and disassembly system with dual kanban. The simulation results are statistically compared with MANOVA. MANOVA is used to perform the test with multiple objective functions, e.g. with the average production cycle time, percentage average fill rate, and work‐in‐process. The conclusion to be drawn is that minimized WIP can be obtained by higher percentage average fill rate, lower WIP, small average part cycles times, and increasing in kanban cards while simultaneously retaining full customer satisfaction.

Originality/value

The researcher presents the newly developed kanban system into the production system of JIT flexible manufacturing, assembly and disassembly system with simulation technique. Furthermore, by assigning time factors to the models, several performance measures can be easily computed. Then, the researcher tests the effect of the number of kanban card on integration of JIT flexible manufacturing, assembly and disassembly systems using a simulation approach, the simulation model is developed using the ARENA simulation package. The results are applied to a small case study. For a single product under the integration of JIT flexible manufacturing, assembly and disassembly systems, as the number of kanban cards increase, the fill rate along with work in process and the mean cycle time increases as well.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 32 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1995

John K L Ho and Paul G Ranky

Examines research work aimed at exploring and developing a new,object‐oriented system design and operation concept, and new systemsoftware and hardware design concepts…

Abstract

Examines research work aimed at exploring and developing a new, object‐oriented system design and operation concept, and new system software and hardware design concepts which could be used to design and build an open, flexible and reconfigurable material handling system in a Computer Integrated Manufacturing [CIM] environment that could cope with changes imposed by the market on today’s manufacturing industries. Looks at the design of a reconfigurable and flexible conveyor system and outlines the benefits of using a 3‐D CIM reference model when developing CIM hardware and software control. Concludes that the proposed new conveyor system helps resolves the need for an assembly system which can achieve rapid and flexible responses to meet the challenge set by changing customer requirements.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 2 February 2015

Christian Finetto, Giulio Rosati, Maurizio Faccio and Aldo Rossi

This paper aims to provide a framework for the choice, design, set-up and management of a fully flexible assembly system (F-FAS). Many industrial applications for small…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a framework for the choice, design, set-up and management of a fully flexible assembly system (F-FAS). Many industrial applications for small batch productions require highly flexible automated manufacturing systems. Moreover, some extensions of the F-FAS concept are provided.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews recent findings regarding the F-FAS with a top-down approach, and defines an integrated implementation framework. This framework is structured into three strictly correlated phases, and the presented procedure is organized to be readily used for new industrial applications. Practical applications are presented to show how the system can satisfy flexibility demands in a variety of cases.

Findings

The proposed framework is organized in three steps: convenience analysis of the F-FAS compared to a traditional flexible assembly system; an optimal design of the feeder; a choice of the set-up and sequencing algorithm yielding the highest throughput. Following these steps, the F-FAS can become an effective solution for small batch productions with frequent reconfigurations. However, due to the limited throughput, the system is not well suited for large batches.

Originality/value

The presented framework allows to implement an F-FAS for a given industrial application, and to evaluate its efficacy with respect to other assembly technologies. Moreover, with the same implementation framework, the F-FAS concept can be applied to production fields that are different from assembly, as shown by the provided examples. This represents an important element of originality and of interest for its strong practical implications in different production environments.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

Keywords

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