About this book
Manufacturing Flexibility is usually seen as the main answer for surviving in present markets characterized by short lead times, tight product tolerances, pressure on costs, frequent changes of demand and continuous evolution of products. However, the competitiveness of a firm can be negatively affected by capital intensive investments in system flexibility. Indeed production contexts characterized by mid to high demand volume of well identified families of products in continuous evolution normally do not require the highest level of flexibility. Designing manufacturing systems that optimally satisfy the production requirements represents a very complex problem, since aspects ranging from manufacturing strategy to process planning, and from scenario analysis to performance evaluation must be considered over the system lifecycle. The book addresses these interdependencies proposing an integrated approach to flexible production system design. Since traditional system architectures are not always the most efficient solution to face new production contexts a new manufacturing system architecture named Focused Flexibility Manufacturing Systems – FFMSs is also introduced. Indeed the explicit design of flexibility can lead to hybrid systems, i.e. automated integrated systems consisting of general purpose and dedicated machines. This is a key issue of FFMSs which are designed to achieve an optimal balance between flexibility and productivity at system level.