8.2 Automated Manufacturing
8.2.1 Flexible manufacturing systems (FMS)
An FMS is a manufacturing process that can respond quickly and easily to predicted and unpredicted changes. This flexibility generally falls into one of two categories: machine and routing. Machine flexibility reflects a system's ability to change and produce new product types and its ability to change the order of operations executed on a part. Routing flexibility reflects the ability to use multiple machines to perform the same operation on a part as well as the ability to absorb large-scale changes, such as in volume, capacity, or capability.
Most are comprised of three subsystems. Work machines are often automated computer numeric control machines that are connected by a material handling system to optimize part flow. A central control computer manages material movements and machine flow. The main advantage of FMS is its high flexibility in managing manufacturing resources, such as time and effort to manufacture a new or low-volume product. FMS is best applied in small-batch and high-variety product lines.
Other advantages of FMS include fast response to changing customer needs, short preparation times for new and prototype products, low costs for low volume, the ability to handle high-variety product lines, and high productivity due to fast changeover times. High flexibility enables high machine utilization and fast detection of quality problems at lower cost.
8.2.2 Mass customization
Mass customization in marketing, manufacturing, and management is the use of flexible, computer-aided manufacturing systems, speedy information flow, and responsive processes to produce custom output. These systems combine the low unit costs of mass production processes with the flexibility of individual customization.