WORKING PROCEDURES IN DESIGN PROCESSES TO ACHIEVE FLEXIBLE ASSEMBLY SYSTEMS
Abstract: Designing is becoming increasingly complex. Manufacturers strive achieving flexible assembly systems that can easily accommodate diverse product offerings while transitioning towards new (radical) products, integrating new manufacturing technologies and providing specific customer solutions. However, designing flexibility is a challenge. There are several flexibility dimensions and perspectives as well as a need for design support to achieve it in a long term. A design process concerns the way of working (how) to generate an assembly system solution before its realisation. Thus, it is crucial to establish preconditions for the development of assembly systems. A single design process does not fit all the design problems, so already during the design process, changes in assembly systems by means of flexibility should be further investigated. The purpose of the research is to increase knowledge on how to achieve flexible assembly systems through design processes with the objective to contribute to the development of working procedures to support design processes of flexible assembly systems. Factors involved in the design process of flexible assembly systems and their influence in the design process to achieve flexible assembly systems have been studied based on literature reviews and five case studies conducted in the manufacturing industry of heavy vehicles. The thesis is based on six appended papers. A framework has been developed which integrates the findings of the research. It highlights the need of working in early phases of technology development to address timely changes and adaptations in both products and assembly systems designs. Thus, showing the importance of involving different processes as well as roles and functions within an organisation. Furthermore, it shed lights on activities that could facilitate the design process of flexible assembly systems in a long term. These working procedures are meant to support those involved in the design process of flexible assembly systems.
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