Manufacturers are nowadays shifting to more flexible technologies which take virtually zero time to shift from one product type to the another. In a flexible manufacturing system, CNC machines are interconnected by an automated material handling system with a central computer controlling it. Flexible manufacturing system works with the efficiency of the mass production system and flexibility of job shop production system. For the successful implementation of an FMS, various issues like design, planning, scheduling, and control have to be taken care of. A typical layout of an FMS is shown in the figure below.
Flexible manufacturing system has following types of flexibilities, which makes it a unique manufacturing system
- Machine flexibility: Each machine in the system can perform a variety of operations
- Material Handling Flexibility: The automated material handling system can transport various size and shape parts
- Operation Flexibility: The sequence of the parts to be processed can also be changed
- Volume Flexibility: The manufacturing system operates profitably at different volumes
- Expansion Flexibility: The system can be expanded in order to meet the production demand
- Routing Flexibility: The rout of the parts can be changed in order to accommodate the latest changes in the process plans
- Product Flexibility: The product mix can be changed without major setup changes
- Process Flexibility: a measure of the volume of the set of part types that a system can produce without incurring any setup.
Flexible manufacturing system is best suitable for mid volume and high variety parts manufacturing companies