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Flexible Manufacturing

Flexible Manufacturing Defined

The evolution of manufacturing can be represented graphically as a continuum. Manufacturing processes and systems are in a state of transition from manual operation to the eventual realization of fully integrated manufacturing. The step preceding computer-integrated manufacturing is called flexible manufacturing.

Flexibility is an important characteristic in the modern manufacturing setting. It means that a manufacturing system is versatile and adaptable, while also capable of handling relatively high production runs. A flexible manufacturing system is versatile in that it can produce a variety of parts. It is adaptable because it can be quickly modified to produce a completely different line of parts. This flexibility can be the difference between success and failure in a competitive international marketplace.

It is a matter of balance. Stand-alone computer numerical control machines have a high degree of flexibility, but are capable of relatively low-volume production runs. As the opposite end of the spectrum transfer lines are capable of high-volume runs but they are not very flexible. Flexible manufacturing is an attempt to use technology in such a way as to achieve the optimum balance between flexibility and production runs. These technologies include automated materials, handling, group technology, and computer and distributed numerical control.

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is an independent machine or group of machines in a service automatic material handling systems. It is controlled by computer and has the right tools to deal with capacity. As it has the ability and tools to deal with by computer control, this system can be continuously re-configured to create a more diverse components, this is it is called flexible manufacturing system causes. A manufacturing system to become a flexible manufacturing system must have the elements:

1. Computer Control

2. Automated material handling capacity

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