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How to improve flexibility in your assembly line

The digitalization we are experiencing as part of Industry 4.0 will, thanks to its intelligent fusion of mechanics, electronics and software, profoundly change the reality of production.

Flexible production

Through cyber-physical systems, where the devices interact with each other, it allows much higher adaptability and flexibility as the sensors in the cyber-physical system provide process transparency, self-optimization and self-adaptation to external influences. For example, a production company that receives purchases or instructions through Cloud services, and immediately makes changes in the production line, will be much more flexible in adapting to the needs and quality requirements of different customers.

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 customize 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 most advanced implementations, dashboards optimized for smartphones are used to present output from sophisticated algorithms that perform complex, real-time optimizations. In one case study from the Canadian standards, advanced analytics raised daily production by 5 to 8 percent by allowing managers to schedule and allocate staff and equipment more effectively after predictive analysis.

A flexible assembly line’s ability to change and adapt to both planned and unplanned changes is an important aspect of advanced assembly and smart manufacturing. This is due to increased machine efficiency, increased labour productivity and increased production rate, to mention a few examples.

It is estimated that using IoT could reduce worker injuries in factory environments by 10 to 25 percent, saving as much as USD 225 billion per year in 2025...

Download the whitepaper to learn more about our smart factory concept - the gateway to Industry 4.0!