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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2021

Vennan Sibanda, Khumbulani Mpofu and John Trimble

In manufacturing, dedicated machine tools and flexible machine tools are failing to satisfy the ever-changing manufacturing demands of short life cycles and dynamic nature…

Abstract

Purpose

In manufacturing, dedicated machine tools and flexible machine tools are failing to satisfy the ever-changing manufacturing demands of short life cycles and dynamic nature of products. These machines are limited when new product designs are introduced. The solution lies in developing responsive machines that can be adjusted or be changed functionally when these change requirements arise. These machines are reconfigurable machines which are becoming the new focus, as they rapidly respond to product variety and volume changes. A sheet metal working machine known as a reconfigurable guillotine shear and bending press machine (RGS&BPM) has been developed. The purpose of this paper is to present a methodology, function-oriented design approach (FODA), which was developed for the design of the RGS&BPM.

Design/methodology/approach

The design of the machine is based on the six principles of reconfigurable manufacturing systems (RMSs), namely, modularity, scalability integrability, convertibility, diagnosability and customisability. The methodology seeks to optimise the design process of the RGS&BPM through a design of modules that make up the machine, enable its conversion and reconfiguration. The FODA is focussed on function identification to select the operational function required. Two main functions are recognised for the machine, these being cutting and bending; hence, the design revolves around these two and reconfigurability.

Findings

The developed design methodology was tested in the design of a prototype for the reconfigurable guillotine shear and bending press machine. The prototype is currently being manufactured and will be subjected to functional tests once completed. This paper is being presented not only to present the methodology by to show and highlight its practical applicability, as the prototype manufacturers have been enthusiastic about this new approach.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to the design methodology for the RGS&BPM, the machine which has been designed to completion using this methodology, with prototype being manufactured.

Practical implications

This study presents critical steps and considerations in the development of reconfigurable machines. The main thrust being to explore the best possibility of developing the machines with dual functionality that will assist in availing the technology to manufacturer. As the machine has been development, the success of the design can be directly attributed to the FODA methodology, among other contributing factors. It also highlights the significance of the principles of RMS in reconfigurable machine design.

Social implications

The RGS&BM machine is an answer for the small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), as the machine replaces two machines with one, and the methodology ensures its affordable design. It contributes immensely to the machine availability by eliminating trial and error approaches.

Originality/value

This study presents a new approach to the design of reconfigurable dual machines using principles of RMS. As the targeted market is the SME, it is not limited to that as any entrepreneur may use the machine to their advantage. The design methodology presented contributes to the body of knowledge in dual reconfigurable machine tool design.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology , vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 30 December 2019

Vennan Sibanda, Khumbulani Mpofu, John Trimble and Mufaro Kanganga

Reconfigurable machines tools (RMTs) are gaining momentum as the new solutions to customised products in the manufacturing world. The driving force, among others, behind…

Abstract

Purpose

Reconfigurable machines tools (RMTs) are gaining momentum as the new solutions to customised products in the manufacturing world. The driving force, among others, behind these machines is the part envelope and the part family of products that they can produce. The purpose of this paper is to propose a new class of RMT known as a reconfigurable guillotine shear and bending press machine (RGS&BPM). A part family of products that this machine can produce is developed using hierarchical clustering methodologies. The development of these part families is guided by the relationship of the parts in the family in terms of complexity and geometry.

Design/methodology/approach

Part families cannot be developed in isolation, but that process has to incorporate the machine modules used in the reconfiguration process for producing the parts. Literature was reviewed, and group technology principles explored, to develop a concept that can be used to develop the part families. Matrices were manipulated to generate part families, and this resulted in the development of a dendrogram of six possible part families. A software with a graphic user interface for manipulation was also developed to help generate part families and machine modules. The developed concept will assist in the development of a machine by first developing the part family of products and machine modules required in the variable production process.

Findings

The developed concepts assist in the development of a machine by first developing the part family of products and machine modules required in the variable production process. The development of part families for the RGS&BPM is key to developing the machine work envelope and modules to carry out the work. This work has been presented to demonstrate the importance of machine development in conjunction with a part family of products that the machine will produce. The paper develops an approach to manufacturing where part families of products are developed prior to developing the machine. The families of products are then used to develop modules that enable the manufacture of the parts and subsequently the size of the machine.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to the development of part families for a new RGS&BPM, which is still under development.

Practical implications

The study reflects the development of reconfigurable machines as a solution to manufacturing challenges in terms of group technology approaches adopted in the design phase. It also highlights the significance of the concepts in the reconfigurable machine tool design. The part families define the machine work envelop and its reconfiguration capability.

Social implications

The success of the research will usher an alternative to smaller players in sheet metal work. It will contribute to the easy development of the machine that will bridge the high cost of machine tools.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the new approach in sheet metal manufacturing where dedicated machines may be substituted by a highly flexible reconfigurable machine that has a dual operation, making the investment for small to medium enterprises affordable. It also contributes to the body of knowledge in reconfigurable machine development and the framework for such activities, especially in developing countries.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology , vol. 18 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

Keywords

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