The Concept of Mobile Manufacturing

Abstract: There is a need for a manufacturing concept that is characterized by ease in changing between manufacturing places, ease in producing wherever it is convenient for the moment, ease in collaborating with different partners, and reconfigurability and reuse of manufacturing capacity, while at the same time keeping control of the own capabilities. The objective of this thesis is to investigate and describe the concept of mobile manufacturing in order to find new ways of competing for the manufacturing industry. The concept of mobile manufacturing is characterized by changeability, where mobility is defined as the ability to change between geographical places with little penalty in time, effort, cost, or performance. A mobile manufacturing system is thus a system that efficiently changes between different departments or sites and is easily reconfigured to fit different orders and locations. This thesis consists of a comparison of five cases where mobile manufacturing systems were developed and realized. The mobility characteristic in those manufacturing systems has been analysed. Factors affecting mobility and how the mobile manufacturing system is designed have been described, such as the organizational and geographical distance that the mobile manufacturing module is transported, and different types of management and ownership structure. A great range of mobility has thereby been identified and it has been shown that there are different dimensions of mobile manufacturing. By viewing the mobile manufacturing system in a life-cycle perspective, the focus has been on the iterative reuse of the manufacturing system. Mobile manufacturing equipment could be used, for example, in order to perform low-frequency operations or to cope with occasional volume peaks. There are a number of advantages of mobile manufacturing that make it a potential future manufacturing concept: instead of investing in new equipment, mobile manufacturing modules could be used and shared by several actors; efficiency is maximized; mobile manufacturing gives opportunities for joint investments; and it also enables moving closer to the customer or reaching new markets.

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