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Flexible manufacturing systems are becoming more popular and can be divided into two types of areas: machine flexibility and routing flexibility. Machine flexibility refers to the ability of using several machines for the same operations and the system’s ability to customise changes such as volume and capabilities. Routing flexibility refers to a system’s ability to adapt to new products and in what order the assembly puts the products together.
In the context of intelligent manufacturing, the cognitive robots can perceive information uncertainty, change scheduling management and adjust manufacturing behaviour to cope independently with a complex manufacturing problem. Using distributed algorithms for reconfiguration of self-reconfigurable robots will drastically simplify the complexity of configuring robots. The Cobots can work independently and deal with changeable scheduling of a smart factory with connected assembly lines.
Industry 4.0 can support increased product quality in several areas, for example: enhanced customisation, increased customer interaction, data based value-design, and changes from product offerings to service offerings.
The Automotive industry is currently leading the development of manufacturing and assembly concepts and processes. The development is driven by environmental requirements, with the introduction of alternative drivelines, and fierce market competition, with an explosion of the number of models and variants, as a means of meeting the competition. These two trends call for increased flexibility in production with leading automotive manufacturers rapidly approaching the vision of “mass production one”. To produce multiple car models or even a mix of cars and motorcycles in one assembly factory is the new norm. For assembly production the vision of “mass production one” is getting closer through new concepts where traditional moving assembly lines are replaced with new solutions based on AGV´s (Automated Guided Vehicles) that enable multiple and flexible flows on the shop floor. The assembly is set up with a main flow and multiple paths or extra loops to handle the differentiation in models and variants. This also requires new concepts for managing material flows and the set-up of stations with tools and control software. The future of the Automotive industry is changing, and no one can tell how far the development will go. New solutions and standards will emerge. Atlas Copco is actively contributing to the development together with its customers, and is a trusted partner for support on the journey.