White Paper

Mastering Flexible Manufacturing

Strategies for improving operational efficiency and predictive maintenance.

Boost your agility without sacrificing quality or throughput

Flexibility is the ideal of today’s manufacturing world. How can companies produce exactly what consumers are looking for – and change course immediately if needed – while keeping quality and throughput as high as possible?

Our new white paper discusses several strategies and technological solutions for making the most of this crucial manufacturing trend.

Compared with single-product lines, flexible lines always cause at least some reduction in throughput. Designing for reusability is crucial, because this ensures that product changeovers keep downtime and plant space usage to a minimum.

Fortunately, many of today’s hardware and software solutions are designed for easy reuse. Automotive manufacturers, for example, embrace robotic solutions that allow them to run similar but slightly different vehicle programs – such as the base model and the sport version of a car – on the same equipment.

There is a new trend in producing manufacturing machinery in smaller pieces so that these can be easily integrated into larger, customizable solutions. To facilitate connectivity between individual pieces of equipment, it’s helpful to have an all-in-one software solution to ensure that everything is connected properly.

The ideal software would contain multiple function blocks to help manufacturers get new variations of their systems up and running more quickly. As a complete software package that ties all hardware pieces together, it can save customers and field engineers significant amounts of time in designing, maintaining and troubleshooting flexible production lines.

Turnaround needs to be as fast as possible, and the manufacturing system must make it easy to determine the status of both finished products and works-in-progress. Customers want to know how close items are to being ready so that they can plan out their own operations more effectively.

The need to get answers in real time gets complicated by the fact that things are constantly moving around in a flexible manufacturing system. To improve the visibility of their operations, manufacturers should invest in a fully automated, real-time traceability system. Technologies that improve data flow are especially important for traceability.

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