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Glossary terms

Flexible Manufacturing

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A flexible manufacturing system is able to adjust and make any changes in the production process, as necessary. In general, flexible manufacturing technologies allow a system to make changes in two areas, related to product type and quantity. Flexible production is a method of production that can easily adapt to changes, whereby machines and automated systems can be set to produce a variety of parts or different production amounts.

Advantages of flexible manufacturing system

Like other aspects of smart manufacturing, a flexible manufacturing system is an important part of a facility’s automated production capability and can lead to increased efficiency and reduced downtime. When a system is flexible, changes can automatically be incorporated into the manufacturing process. This way, the production line does not have to stopped to set up new parameters or meet new requirements for a particular order.

Not only does this contribute to increased optimization of the entire production process, but it can also make customization of products easier, allowing manufacturing companies to better meet the diverse, changing needs of their clients. With increased system reliability and production times, together with reduced parts inventory and shorter lead times, a production facility can provide better all around service for customers, while reducing internal costs.

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Flexibility is key

The components of a flexible manufacturing system can be changed according to a facility’s needs. It can be made to produce new products or introduce a new component for a product, or it can use more than one machine to perform the same task, allowing for greater capacity in volume. In either situation, machine flexibility is built into the system from the start, and it can be set to produce one type of product at a certain quantity, and then automatically produce another type of product, at different amounts. Additionally, it can handle the entire manufacturing process, from end to end. This wide-ranging capability is one of the main advantages of a flexible manufacturing system, and it can lead to a significant increase in production efficiency.  

With its functional ability to quickly adapt to changes in the production process, as well as its technical capability of connecting to various systems in a facility, a flexible manufacturing system is an important part of the modern, cloud based manufacturing organization. As many industrial facilities increasingly use robots in their daily operations, the ability to introduce flexible changes, while increasing productivity and efficiency is key.

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