Future Assembly Information Systems - Redefining the Manufacturing Systems of Tomorrow

Abstract: Product variety continues to increase as the manufacturing industry introduces customized products and services to address the varying demands of their customers. In the manufacturing industry, it is common for large and global manufacturing companies to grow through mergers and acquisitions. As a consequence, these companies have hard times to find proper information systems integration strategies and to find commonality in their product portfolios. The introduction of Industry 4.0 kick started the digitalization journey that permeates society. Despite the digitalization initiatives, the manufacturing industry has fallen behind in terms of technology introduction in manufacturing systems. In the spirit of Industry 4.0, the manufacturing industry needs practical support on how to prioritize the development of future manufacturing systems. The objective of this thesis is to expand the knowledgebase about the impact of the digitalization in the manufacturing industry. This thesis presents a current state analysis of the challenges of handling assembly information in manual assembly intense manufacturing companies. The thesis also presents critical aspects to overcome the identified challenges and aims to support manufacturing companies in prioritizing initiatives and in making proper preparations for starting the digital transformation. This thesis is based on three case studies conducted between 2016 and 2017. The case studies show that there are many challenges that the manufacturing industry is currently facing that makes it difficult to create smart manufacturing systems. The result of the thesis is intended to be used as input when deploying new assembly information systems to assure high flexibility and operability. Future assembly information systems will allow more customization towards the intended end-user (e.g. operator and engineer), increased automation and data-based decision-making. On basis of the current challenges and the identified critical aspects, an industrial demonstrator has been developed to be used for validation of several design principles that have been formulated. The demonstrator will be tested by real operators during the spring of 2018 and the result will be used to spread knowledge of the impact of enhanced assembly information systems.