Making product customization more feasible for flexible manufacturing systems
Culler, David E.
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A big challenge for companies is to make the steps between product design and process configuration more agile and adaptable. Some potential areas of performance improvement include: connecting product design to process design and automating the set-up of manufacturing equipment for material handling, machine tools, bar-code readers and vision stations. Progress in these areas will allow for customer requirements to be utilized efficiently in developing instructions for a Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS). The result would be a faster turnaround for new products and changes to customer roles in developing the products. One option is to streamline the creation of routing sheets, work instructions and programs that contain all product information and the strategies for making and inspecting the product. A key to this effort are the Application Programmable Interface (API) tools available in software throughout the product development and manufacturing cycle. If a library of programs can be created and made available for each station in the cell for different product configurations, the API could select and automatically load these programs including data (e.g. tooling, jigs, and fixtures) and make the cell very easy to set-up. A company could increase customer involvement in product development without a huge cost associated with re-configuring the automated system.
Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Flexible Automation & Intelligent Manufacturing, held May 20-23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, and organized by the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems, University of Texas at San AntonioIncludes bibliographical references