This paper defines the flexible manufacturing system and explains the growth of thesystems over the years and their deployment for various manufacturing processes. Itgives an insight into the development of the systems with the advent of Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine tools. The key idea in FMS is that the co-ordination of the flow of work is carried out by a central control computer. This computer performs functions such as:
Scheduling jobs onto the machine tools
Downloading part-programs part to the machines.
Sending instructions to the automated vehicle system for transportationThe paper also focuses on the pros and cons of these systems and delves into the productivity and investment facets. The role of FMS communication protocol and thesignificance of FMS data traffic are expounded.
The real strength of these FMS lay in thefact that they brought tremendous benefits in inventory reduction (often 85%), qualityimprovement and lead time. In many installations, the inventory reduction alone wassufficient to justify the investment in hardware, software and system design effort.
Withthe advent of massive industrialization and globalization across the world manufacturersare being compelled to respond flexibly and rapidly to the changing market conditions.Success in manufacturing requires the adoption of methods in customer-acquisition andorder-fulfillment processes that can manage anticipated change with precision while providing a fast and flexible response to unanticipated changes.At this juncture the paper throws some light on the solution i.e., mass customizationmanufacturing.