Current Developments in Flexible Manufacturing Cells and Systems, Leading to Complete Computer Integrated Manufacture
In previous chapters we have, in the main, been concerned with a discussion about stand-alone turning and machining centre technology and related activities, such as tooling, workholding, and cutting fluids. This final chapter will consider how best to achieve a degree of automation using equipment and looking into the relative merits and drawbacks of such implementations. Prior to discussing the role of currently available FMC/S solutions, it is probably worth defining what we mean by “Flexible Manufacture” - whether one is describing either a cell, or a system. The definition favoured by the author is a modification to that proposed by an early investigation commissioned in America by the US Task Force Study: “Two or more machines coupled to either a robot, or an automatic transfer mechanism for the machining of parts”. This loosely describes, in the most basic terms, the requirements for a flexible manufacturing cell; in fact we must qualify this definition by saying that, according to an FMS builder, such systems must be “as rigidly flexible as possible!”. This means that either a cell or system should have a degree of flexibility within rigid constraints in order to perform in anything like a flexible manner.
KeywordsMachine Tool Flexible Manufacture System Machine Centre Coordinate Measuring Machine Programmable Logic Controller
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