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Flexible Manufacturing System Components

19 January, 2016 - 12:35

Now, return to Figure 14.2 and review the column labeled “Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS).” A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) is a highly automated CIM system. Regardless of its components, any FMS has as its goal making the plant more flexible—that is, achieving the ability to quickly produce wide varieties of products using the same equipment.

Group technology (GT) helps by enabling advanced scheduling to reduce setup and lead times, improve productivity, simplify routings, and eliminate unnecessary routings. In addition, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is intended to improve manufacturing control and reporting, coordinate material flow between machines, and facilitate rerouting.

Table 14.1 Exhibit 13.1 Just-In-Time Objectives
  • Zero defects. Products are designed to be defect-free and to eliminate the need to inspect the product. In fact, the total quality control (TQC) approach to manufacturing, a subset of JIT, places responsibility for quality in the hands of the builder rather than in those of the inspector.
  • Zero setup times. For instance, one world-class automobile manufacturer can change from one car model to another in 2.5 minutes, including complete retooling.
  • Small lot sizes. Continuous flow operations are designed so that material does not sit idle and machine utilization is maximized (95 percent utilization is not uncommon).
  • Zero lead times. As mentioned earlier, the goal is to eliminate the non-value-added (i.e., wasted in moving, waiting, and inspecting activities) portion of total lead time.
  • Zero inventories. In successful JIT installations, a goal is to maintain only enough inventory to satisfy demand for a few hours or days. Successful application is dependent in part on vendors maintaining similar levels of quality and timely delivery of required parts and supplies.

Computer aided-process planning (CAPP) helps forge the link between engineering and production planning. During the design engineering phase, a process planner retrieves the closest standard plan from the GT database and then revises it. Therefore, CAPP reduces the cost and effort required to create and revise process plans, particularly in complex, multiple-product environments.


Central to the actual work performed in an FMS environment is the use of machines that use computer numerical control (CNC). These machines might be industrial robots; automated materials handling systems in the form of automated guidedvehicle systems (AGVS) Hermies III; automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS),or digital image processing machines, also developed by using artificial intelligence technology (Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management Systems).

In Figure 14.2, the final subset of FMS deals with automated data collection; namely, that part of the shop floor control process devoted to monitoring and recording the status of work as it moves through the factory. Like other aspects of modern production processes, the data collection process usually is highly automated. Therefore, the process is able to collect valuable real-time data that can be used for immediate feedback and control.

Review Question

How does each IPP component that appears in Figure 14.2 function?