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Proceedings Paper

Minifactory: a precision assembly system adaptable to the product life cycle
Author(s): Patrick F. Muir; Alfred A. Rizzi; Jay W. Gowdy
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Paper Abstract

Automated product assembly systems are traditionally designed with the intent that they will be operated with few significant changes for as long as the product is being manufactured. This approach to factory design and programming has may undesirable qualities which have motivated the development of more 'flexible' systems. In an effort to improve agility, different types of flexibility have been integrated into factory designs. Specifically, automated assembly systems have been endowed with the ability to assemble differing products by means of computer-controlled robots, and to accommodate variations in parts locations and dimensions by means of sensing. The product life cycle (PLC) is a standard four-stage model of the performance of a product from the time that it is first introduced in the marketplace until the time that it is discontinued. Manufacturers can improve their return on investment by adapting the production process to the PLC. We are developing two concepts to enable manufacturers to more readily achieve this goal: the agile assembly architecture (AAA), an abstract framework for distributed modular automation; and minifactory, our physical instantation of this architecture for the assembly of precision electro-mechanical devices. By examining the requirements which each PLC stage places upon the production system, we identify characteristics of factory design and programming which are appropriate for that stage. As the product transitions from one stage to the next, the factory design and programing should also transition from one embodiment to the next in order to achieve the best return on investment. Modularity of the factory components, highly flexible product transport mechanisms, and a high level of distributed intelligence are key characteristics of minifactory that enable this adaptation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 December 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 3203, Architectures, Networks, and Intelligent Systems for Manufacturing Integration, (9 December 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.294420
Show Author Affiliations
Patrick F. Muir, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)
Alfred A. Rizzi, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)
Jay W. Gowdy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3203:
Architectures, Networks, and Intelligent Systems for Manufacturing Integration
Bhaskaran Gopalakrishnan; San Murugesan; Odo Struger; Gerfried Zeichen, Editor(s)

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