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Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing (2000) 11, 403±419

Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to
future manufacturing
M . G . M E H R A B I , A . G . U L S O Y and Y. KO R E N
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, The University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, MI 48109-2125, USA

Presented in this article is a review of manufacturing techniques and introduction of recon®gurable
manufacturing systems; a new paradigm in manufacturing which is designed for rapid adjustment of
production capacity and functionality, in response to new market conditions.
A de®nition of recon®gurable manufacturing systems is outlined and an overview of available
manufacturing techniques, their key drivers and enablers, and their impacts, achievements and
limitations is presented. A historical review of manufacturing from the point-of-view of the major
developments in the market, technology and sciences issues affecting manufacturing is provided.
The new requirements for manufacturing are discussed and characteristics of recon®gurable
manufacturing systems and their key role in future manufacturing are explained. The paper is
concluded with a brief review of speci®c technologies and research issues related to RMSs.

Keywords: Recon®gurable manufacturing systems, manufacturing systems, system characteristics,
system design, machine design, ramp-up time reduction

1. Introduction approach must be rapidly designed, able to convert
quickly to the production of new models, able to
Changing manufacturing environment characterized adjust capacity quickly, and able to integrate
by aggressive competition on a global scale and rapid technology and to produce an increased variety of
changes in process technology requires to create products in unpredictable quantities.
production systems that are themselves easily upgrad- Table 1 summarizes the major manufacturing
able and into which new technologies and new paradigms and their de®nitions and Fig. 1 shows
functions can be readily integrated. These conditions their economic objectives. Mass production systems
require a responsive new manufacturing approach that were focused on the reduction of product cost. Lean
enables (Next Generation Manufacturing Project, manufacturing places emphasis on continuous
1997): improvement in product quality while decreasing
* the launch of new product models to be under- product costs (see Fig. 1). Flexible manufacturing
taken very quickly, and rapid adjustment of the systems make possible the manufacture of a variety of
manufacturing system capacity to market products (¯exibility) on the same system. While this is
demands; an important objective, these systems have met with
* rapid integration of new functions and process limited success. For instance, ¯exible manufacturing
technologies into existing systems, and systems (FMSs) developed in the last two decades: (i)
* easy adaptation to variable quantities of prod- are expensive, since in many cases they include more
ucts for niche marketing. functions than needed, (ii) utilize inadequate system
software, since developing user-speci®ed software is
The manufacturing systems used for this new
extremely expensive, (iii) are not highly reliable, and
0956-5515 # 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers

404 Mehrabi. computers. or similar.. An RMS goes beyond the economic objectives of FMS by permitting: (1) reduction of lead time for launching new systems and recon®guring existing systems. Recon®guration will allow adding. today's . and tooling for several types of parts. when it is needed. production schedules. production equipment. rather than replaced. and materials some- system becoming obsolete is one of manufacturers' times occur in cycles as short as six months. (iv) are subject to obsolescence due to advances in most troubling problems. that operate in a coordinated manner to produce parts at the required volumes and quality. or machine structure to adjust production capacity in response to changing market demands or technologies. and (2) the rapid manufacturing modi®cation and quick integration of new technology and/or new functions into existing systems. and can change as needed. The high risk of an expensive ¯exible production high-speed motors. or in between. Because advances in technology and their ®xed system software/hardware. such that they can be produced on the same. The economic objective of a DMS is to cost-effectively produce one speci®c part type at the high volumes and the required quality. so that it can be improved. Ulsoy and Koren Table 1. software to handle changes in work orders. and tolerances. controls. The economic objective of a FMS is to make possible the cost-effective manufacture of several types of parts. Thus. part-programs. but programmable. and auxiliary equipment (e. optics. information. and will be open-ended. Note: A part family is de®ned as one or more part types with similar dimensions. geometric features. upgraded. control. Summary of de®nitions and objectives Systems De®nitions and Objectives (machining/manufacturing) Machining system One or more metal removal machine tools and tooling. a given RMS con®guration can be dedicated or ¯exible. and recon®gured. linear drives. controls. Flexible manufacturing systems A machining system con®guration with ®xed hardware and ®xed. This type of system will provide customized ¯exibility for a particular part family. material handling. Recon®gurable manufacturing systems A machining system which can be created by incorporating basic process modulesÐboth hardware and softwareÐthat can be rearranged or replaced quickly and reliably. Dedicated machining systems A machining system designed for production of a speci®c part. The objective of an RMS is to provide the functionality and capacity that is needed. removing. that can change overtime. software. processing. or modifying speci®c process capabilities. with shortened changeover time. communications).g. on the same system at the required volume and quality. and which uses transfer line technology with ®xed tooling and automation.

2.1. Furthermore. which we environmental issues lead to the ever-quicker intro- call the recon®gurable manufacturing system. will duction of new products. Overcoming the limitations and the rapid addition of application-speci®c soft- ware modules. but also in changing the system itself. so To address these limitations.. for launching new manufacturing systems and Our de®nition of a recon®gurable manufacturing recon®guring existing systems. ulesÐhardware and softwareÐthat will be rearranged quickly and reliably. because they will enable the rapid changing of system components 2. These systems will not run the risk of becoming obsolete. This system will be open-ended. system is as follows (Koren and Ulsoy. which go beyond the objectives of mass. and (ii) be rapidly tives. most ef®cient production system can become inef®. 1997): new process technology and new functionality A recon®gurable manufacturing system is designed into existing systems. recon®gured to accommodate future products and and ¯exible manufacturing: changes in product demand rather than scrapped and * Reduction of lead time (including ramp-up time) replaced. Koren * The rapid upgrading and quick integration of et al. 1997.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 405 Fig. But adaptation of existing allow ¯exibility not only in producing a variety of production systems to new products is slow and the parts. the current system customer-driven market and increased awareness of This new type of manufacturing system. for rapid adjustment of production capacity and . Economic goals for various manufacturing paradigms. De®nition of a recon®gurable manufacturing cient after a short time. 1. future manufacturing that it can: (i) be continuously improved by systems technology must meet the following objec- integrating new technology. Such a launching of new systems can take a long time (up to system will be created using basic process mod- two years for a machining system). lean.

occupy a middle 2.2. when needed. and in the second case to add the additional functionality when needed. In the ®rst case the RMS aims to system. an RMS can be designed with a CNC exact production capacity and functionality needed. 2. They are cost effective as nication. an RMS must have certain key characteristics which are summarized in Table 2. we see that RMSs may. producing a new product on an existing RMS technology. the characteristics of integrability. and require. The RMS will Flexible systems. Expanded cost. long as they produce a single few part types and While an RMS may lie between a DMS and demand exceeds supply. even. This would represent an controllers. Comparison of manufacturing systems ground between DMSs and FMSs. This also raises Recon®gurable manufacturing systems will not be the possibility of various types of RMSs. Mapping several types of manufacturing systems in related to agile manufacturing? Agility is de®ned as capacity-functionality coordinates. This would and may be upgraded (in terms of both capacity and require an evolution of current FMSs through lower- functionality) in the future. such that its capacity and/or functionality can be changed over time and unlike the other manufacturing systems. new sensors. of systems. installation time. higher-velocity. and new controller algo. in many cases. rather than CNC machines. It is clear that current trends in open-architecture control (recon®gurable software) and in modular machines (recon®gurable hardware) are key enabling technologies for RMS. rithms. it will be associated with adding the other hand. the RMS aims to be installed with the For example. and expensive basic building blocks.406 Mehrabi. for As shown in Fig. Ulsoy and Koren functionality. that also have in-process measure- part types and the production of a variety of part types ment systems to assure consistent product quality. this is not its distinguishing feature. modular machine tool components and typically have high capacity but limited functionality distributed controllers with high band width commu- (Koren and Ulsoy. 2). as in hardware and software. by some cases. Referring again to the capacity versus functionality trade-off in Fig. more axis system modules. in entire production systems. auxiliary devices. Unlike the other types evolve from either DMSs or FMSs. The key are situations where the dedicated lines do not feature of RMS is that. CNC machine tools with functionality enables the production of more complex modular tooling. 2. evolution of RMSs from DMSs. as the motions. While modularity is most apparent. 1997). respectively. machine tool as the basic building block. mechanisms for individual these cases capital lies idle on the shop ¯oor and a machines. How are recon®gurable manufacturing systems Fig. On on the same system. convert- ibility. But with saturated markets an FMS in terms of capacity and functionality (see and increasing pressure of global competition. which creates a loss. its operate at their full capacity. In fact. it does not have a ®xed hardware/software. in response to new circumstances. are built with all be designed through the use of recon®gurable the ¯exibility and functionality available. ``a comprehensive response to the business challenges . or integrating new process technology into allow the addition of the extra capacity when existing manufacturing systems. there Fig. New circumstances may be changing product These two types of waste will be eliminated with demand. on the other hand. However. that or even dedicated transfer lines. major portion of the capital investment is wasted. with those that may not be needed at rearrangement or change of its components. 2. larger tool magazines. The logic behind this is ``to buy it Components may be machines and conveyors for just in case it may one day be needed''. capacity and functionality are not ®xed. with more expensive than ¯exible manufacturing systems different granularity of the RMS modules. unlike a DMS and an FMS. dedicated transfer lines example. and customization are also important. diagnosability. an RMSs can be designed with drive process capabilities. required.

Agility is an approach to business.'' team-based management.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 407 Table 2. and Preiss. Furthermore. 3. 1996. 1991). 4. customer-con®gured goods and ser. new technological developments . 1994.e. Iacocca Inst. Here we put these ideas in a historical global competition with niche market production. Attaran. Integrability: Design systems and components for both ready integration and future introduction of new technology. a secret list such as move from highly centralized structure to of things to do. operations. 2. and techniques that aid in design. Historical perspective recon®gurability does not deal with the entire enterprise (which includes product design. In the objective of manufacturing responsiveness. Clegg. machines that give corporations the engineering tools 1995. virtual enterprise. Modularity: Design all system components. 5. high. Bjorkman. In the following subsections. management. 1988). agile manufacturing is complimenting and virtual companies are introduced in support of to recon®gurable manufacturing. By contrast. ramp-up of recon®gurable manufacturing systems and Elmuti. 1996.1. of the changes in management systems. . in order to utilize the market opportunities and changes. or any engineering solutions is therefore more of a business philosophy that teaches (such as those provided by mass production). this regard. to be modular. Buzacott. 1991. is one aspect of agility. It does not provide any performance. of pro®ting from the rapidly changing. 1993. and new skill requirements. Buzacott. Sheridan. and 1995. 1997. manufac- up. i. and the contribution of the human capacity and functionality in response to market being in these transitions is covered.agilityforum. the new requirements for tion. The perspective. 1995. Horte and Lindberg. as well as the capability to add incremental turing techniques. diminished role for middle (Goldman. a technique. global markets for high-quality. contrast. Report. web site www. The above that they need to be ¯exible and respond quickly to changes are required. Consequently. diagnostic. etc. they are necessary tools in search for agility (Noaker. but manufacturing were discussed and the novel concept only with the responsiveness of the production system of recon®gurable manufacturing systems was to new market opportunities in an environment of explained. Convertibility: Allow quick changeover between existing products and quick system adaptability for future products. Perhaps the best way to distinguish between agility 3. both software and hardware. a summary RMS methodologies of rapid system design and ramp. agile manufacturing focuses on the technology (Chen. in part. By management. In the previous sections. 1993. characterized by uncertainty. creating business partnerships. demands. there has been massive restructuring ``Agility is not a bag of tricks.. latest advances in communication and information In summary. recon®gurability is a set of methodologies multiple skilled workforce (Jaikumar. operational techniques (such as those provided by vices'' (Goldman. manufacturing enterprise and the business practices 1995).). marketing. It shares how to respond to the challenges posed by a business with recon®gurable manufacturing a focus on environment dominated by change and uncertainty. 1995). 3. McDermott and Brown. Diagnosability: Identify quickly the sources of quality and reliability problems that occur in large systems. 1994. organiza. Key characteristics of a recon®gurable manufacturing system 1. 1997). virtual manufacturing. and Gupta. Nagel. Aronson. . continually needed to adapt to a changing global market fragmenting. Agility lean manufacturing). Management systems and human resources and recon®gurability is to ask the same question that the Agility Forum at Lehigh University asks on their In response to the changes in global economy and to web page ``What is Agility NOT?'' They answer: stay competitive. Customization: Design the system capability and ¯exibility (hardware and controls) to match the application ( product family).

a number of manufacturing market by producing higher quality products at lower .e. the idea that there are always roles for the human to 1983). For example (Jaikumar. and information technology are the driving forces improved quality and accuracy. Every effort of the machine (software/hardware). But particular machining) are depicted in Table 3. 1990). Teresko. such as management information systems.. In the these attempts fall short simply because there is a need pre-CNC period. 1997a) related to manufacturing (in 1994.1. turing systems can conveniently be divided in three material handling. transfer lines machine element). However.e. Manufacturing underlying concepts. and Ulsoy. However. 1995)..2.2. Chung. CNC. 1992. Just-In-Time (JIT) (elim- ways required to achieve a ®nal goal. modular structures to provide the manufacturing 1993.2. Sheridan. and Japanese production techniques such as Kaizen bined effort of the human and machine interacting in (continuous-improvement). (Schonberger. CNC Epoch (1960±1990) advances in communication systems (hardware and The invention of numerically controlled (NC) software). FMSs. etc. 3. most of the machines and their for fundamental change at the lowest level (i. as Garro and Martin views on classifying the periods of development in (1993) pointed out. They had major impact on production rates. see Mehrabi found in the literature (Chen. Knowledge epoch ( post-1990) there were no demands for product variations (long This period is characterized by intensi®ed global and sustained period of a single product) and there competition and progress in computer and informa- were lack of integration in production systems tion technology. one observes that in development of their 3.2. Buzacott. They are brie¯y explained in the that these manufacturing techniques may be modi®ed following subsections. 3. were utilized to reduce cost through the use of interchangeable parts. On close examination of the manufacturing techniques introduced in this period (e. customers to meet their requirements) techniques facturing is desired. Jaikumar. lean. various ®elds (Gyorki. the evolution of manufac. 1989. It maintains and Schreder. 1995): the ®rst views the human as the source of (TQM) (increased and faster communications with errors and therefore. 1995). Pre-CNC Epoch ( pre-1960s) FMSs or lean/FMSs to complement each other can be Some of the historical events (for details. One may argue knowledge epochs. and Gupta. JIT). there are two contrasting views reduce costs). Therefore.g. human as the sources of error recovery. Ulsoy and Koren have a major impact on the role of the human in techniques such as ¯exible manufacturing systems manufacturing. Beckert. to accommodate for necessary changes (typical examples of the recent attempts to combine JIT/ 3. extensive automation of manu. control. Consequently. Mondon. Buzacott. Tuominen. lean manufacturing (ef®ciently elim- which re¯ect the two extremes of manufacturing inate waste.3. The infrastructures of the afore- such as accuracy. play and emphasize on the multiple skill workforce. reduce cost. global competition 3). Schonberger. and Koskinen. hardware. 1981a. There was local competition. the machine-tool is considered Our literature survey suggests that there are different as a single entity.. communication. 1992. and easier is made by manufacturers to respond faster to the integration. Note that manufacturing is a com. and improve quality) automation (Seppala. which is the ination/minimization of inventory as ideal goal to product. 1989. In production. software. control were mechanical.408 Mehrabi.b.2. In this regard. develop- ment of application programs for various purposes. 1983). and (3) do not allow these changes to happen. Gupta and Lonial. in terms of mentioned manufacturing techniques such as manufacturing techniques. the rival view considers the attracted considerable attention (Sakakibara. 1965. precision. (2) CNC. Rapid progress was made in areas (Schonberger. and the machines major epochs: (1) pre-CNC. 1993. 1983) and total quality management Adler. but. novel machine-tools should have manufacturing (Garro and Martin. elements of the control. 1993) systems with necessary tools for quick integration described six epochs of manufacturing by reviewing and restructuring as required for rapid response to the the events in terms of approaches to process control ¯uctuating market. DNC) dramatically affected manufacturing (see Table 1990. more accurate control behind recent changes in manufacturing. and penetration of computer technology in machines and their subsequent evolution (i. Flynn.

engines. circuits (IC) and the ®rst Late 1950s: Manufacturing electronic digital computer Late 1949: Beginning of evolution after World War II were invented. of primary automation lines). Header Brattain and W. White. S.) and the ®rst at AT&T Lab). 1946±1947: Invention of 1946: First electronic 1947: The term ``automation'' transistor (J. lines and mass production. tools 1923: Automatic transfer science-based industry. was developed by MIT and and automation (late 1950s). and processes. 1918±1945 (end of World War 1906: Development of high. 1952: Numerical control (NC) machines. W. F. . Parsons Machine Tool Improvement and expansion Company. of NC languages (like APT). 1921: To obtain more Late 1930±1940: Practical effectiveness in operations. of automation department was Pennsylvania by J. and tooling materials and machines were developed. technology-based economy. 1958: The invention of the Mid 1950s-late 1950s: machining center (Kearney Beginning of development and Trecker). tube) at the Univ. W. the beginning of of large-scale assembly modern machine tools. application of automatic and rapid growth of a control to various systems. founded. Mid 1950s-early 1960s: Beginning of development of NC languages (like APT).W. rapid growth of electronics.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 409 Table 3. at Paris Exhibition. Burdean.H. Schockley developed (using vacuum (Ford Motor Co. Eckert. new power systems. II. P. Historical summary of key events related to RMSs Pre CNC Epoch (1900±1960) Period Scienti®c understanding Engineering & Technology Marketplace changes 1900±1960 1900: Scienti®c approach to 1819±1918: Development of 1903: Ford Motor Company the cutting metals presented internal combustion was founded. computer (ENIAC) was coined by D. 1909: Ford introduced the II): US a world industrial speed tools from alloys by production line (beginning power. Taylor and M. Early 1950s: Integrated Mauchly and J. needed for car production. 1960: First implementation of robot in industry (manufactured by ``Unimate'' and implemented at Ford). Rapid growth of research and 1906-late 1930s: Development development (R&D) and of new machine-tools. 1930s±40s: Progress made in application of automatic General Motors started to theory of control and new control systems for military implement technical analysis methods of analysis of purposes during World War of the quantity of materials control systems.

Mid to late 1970s: Beginning of computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) applications. just-in-time. Early 1970s: Increased 1965±1966: First production 1973: The oil crisis.g. stochastic Dramatic changes in engine control. implemented at Ford).use of aluminum. logic controller (PLC) was 1973: The initial concepts of designed and used at GM. expert commercialized by emissions) and signi®cant systems. can be produced on the same line. theories (e. Volckez. resulting in the 1970s and 1980s: Advanced 1971:The ®rst microprocessor need for lower-volume control and systems (Intel 4004) was invented production systems. on lean was introduced industry(manufactured by manufacturing. lower neural networks. is postulated.g.. and IBM and GM) and the ®rst Mid 1970±mid1980: Major higher levels of process production line computer depression in machine tool control. robust control 1974: The ®rst minicomputer. changes to transmission are developed. Mid to late 1970s: such as continuous Development of the ®rst improvement. design (front wheel drive). promoted by Toyota Motor aided design (CAD) Corporation. 1977: The ®rst personal Flexible manufacturing computers came on the system (FMS) paradigm. Hoff Jr. where multiple products Commodore. numerical control (CNC) robot in especially in Japan. reduction in single-model volumes. E. technology (e. in machining using control (at IBM and GM). smaller theory.. etc. and fuzzy logic) Cincinnati Milacron. which (commercial) due to advent ``Unimate'' and achieves high-quality of minicomputers. and Apple. . adaptive control. system by M. controlled robot was size. Mid-1970s: Just-in-time (JIT) Development of geometric was ®rst developed and modeling and computer. Mid 1970: Entry of Japan into computer-integrated the US machine-tools market manufacturing (CIM) 1970s: Emphasis on and expansion of market published. techniques. Ulsoy and Koren Table 3. the US. identi®cation. research in implementing line computer control (at digital servo control. (Continued) Period Scienti®c understanding Engineering & Technology Marketplace changes 1960±1990 1960±1972: Computer 1960: First implementation of 1960±1980: Emphasis. manufacturing at low cost. scene through Radio Shack. industry and simultaneous newly available computing recession in automotive power. number of nameplates and H. utilization of operations share for Japanese autos in management techniques. Mid-1970±mid1980: Increased CAD program (PADL) by statistical process control. 1968: The ®rst programmable industry.410 Mehrabi.

However. accurate. (Sheridan. 1995). 1993.g.. Acquisition) (GM). of varieties of software/ hardware and operating Micromachining was a new systems. for both PLC Research Center (ERC) for (RMS) paradigm emerges and CNC functions..e. Kusiak and He. 1995). modular systems. open advanced control 1993: SCADA (Supervisory architecture control). manufacturing enterprise rather than the production The overall trends in various sectors of manu- system level (i. and processes. techniques for industrial Control and Data research and development processes and systems. and to machinery. Examples show that agility is manufacturing was introduced in 1991 and it focused implemented by changing the tools and workholding on faster response and customization of products equipment (mostly auxiliary equipment). more application of linear motors intelligent. computer- machine-tools (in integrated manufacturing Rapid market changes (due to particular) showing (CAM) systems. in higher performing. design and more variety. industrial machines. The concept of agile (Wright. forms (e. it is there are minimum changes to the machine structure mainly focused on a business philosophy for the and software (Mason. Recon®gurable Machining to address the need for become widely available Systems (RMS) is established responsiveness to changes in the market and technology costs and in smaller quantities. changes in demand). * There has been massive restructuring at all This is re¯ected in recent attempts to introduce the levels of organizations in response to globaliza- enabling technologies for agile manufacturing or CIM tion of the economy and new market conditions. 1997). and faster communication systems. (Continued) Knowledge Epoch (1990-Now) 1990±1994 1990s: Evolution in 1990s: Widespread design and 1990s: Production of a greater underlying concepts of implementation of variety of goods at higher manufacturing systems. migration from centralized manufacturing cells and and isolated systems toward information management Demand for higher quality and decentralized. development higher speed machine tools. . computers in control of production rates. modular implementation of machines and tooling.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 411 Table 3. availability of approach to constructing higher computing power sensors. 1995± 1995: The Recon®gurable 1995: PC-based machine tool 1996: The NSF Engineering Manufacturing System controllers. In essence. it does not emphasize on speci®c facturing can be summarized as follows: engineering developments or operational techniques).

e.e. manufacturing techniques teaming at a high level) (Iacocca Inst. In this human mind (virtual. they are not faster reorganization/data transfer and required always ¯exible enough and cannot accommo- modi®cations). integration of new modules. these dramatic changes.. etc. 1995). information technology. communication systems. The above restructuring (in Rogers and Bottaci. date rapid changes. there are needs of new approaches to It is dif®cult to forecast long term trends for manufacturing such that they can properly respond to manufacturing systems. This is due to the fact that the from the top and they are distributed among the control structures of the current manufacturing basic elements).e. and maintenance are very modularity.) so evolved enormously in the last decade or so. autonomy. manufacturer may be viewed and computer/information technology. one observes that: roles of the middle management are reduced (i. In spite of all as a local sector of a larger/global enterprise (i. lowest possible levels (i. even ¯exibility.412 Mehrabi. adaptable structure. Certainly. physical elements who do the standardization of various components (such as data actual physical job). information systems and control software decision making and intelligence are moved (Attaran. the and it is considered as one of the key drivers.. it is possible to ¯uctuations in product demand and smaller produc- extrapolate future trends from the current situation by tion volumes. These are essential characteristics of a modern dynamic organization.e. and upgrading... at component level). protocols. It has that data can be transferred to the desired location at a certain characteristics which are dictated by the faster rate. the group discussions and properly respond to * There are risks involved in integration of the the needs of the system (i. 1991). 1997. With some time-lag. * The restructuring of organizations emphasizes * The level of modularity are at fairly higher moving from highly centralized to decentralized levels in contrast to the requirements of team-work (i. since the changes are hap- the new market conditions characterized by large pening at a fast pace.e. and self-suf®ciency at the dif®cult. continuous 4. However. Therefore. availability and distribution of information systems can be partly viewed as an information plays an important role in this transition interface between the two other elements. They offer the system the advantages of fast and easy integration. organizations realize level elements of the future manufacturing systems the need for change and are utilizing computer/ (Next Generation Manufacturing Project. very limited physical action) regard. It is seen that in general.. elements of an organiza- tion). and dividing the tasks among them to enhance FMSs are not very modular at cell level. i. all these trends are toward their diagnosis. essentially creating modules modularity at the lowest element (for instance. It should be emphasized that in a analyzing and specifying the key drivers behind the modern manufacturing environment. the . On close examination of the manufacturing archical structures to leveled systems and the techniques introduced so far. and faster execution of the existing machine-tools are not modular new tasks).. removing the obstacles and providing * They do not posses a modular structure in terms direct routes between high and low levels for of software/hardware. This makes upgrading * The human should acquire multiple-skills (on a and integration of the new components quite continuous basis) to enable her to participate in complicated. the knowledge. the other element of major impact on manufacturing ®rms by facilitating manufacturing) are required for a suitable and their integration and collaboration to form larger ef®cient means of communication between human enterprises. there are needs for improvements and and the machines (i.e.. In a similar way. The computer technology has interfaces.. Ulsoy and Koren * Management systems have moved from hier. it has a terms of human resources. Report. Future trends evolution. This has a considerable effect on high/low systems. 1997). Therefore.e. Therefore. integration. i. To stay a competitive member of the enterprise.e. computers and changes. At high levels. and machine-tools have remained unchanged. systems are highly centralized (hardware/soft- ware).

shorter lead-time and ramp-up reduced (Next Generation Manufacturing Project. there is a need for a fundamental 1997). Faster communication also provides a Ashley. 1997). the market. This clearly identi®es the important role for understanding of manufacturing processes. The key role of recon®gurable manufacturing systems (RMSs) in future manufacturing. global competition. . and various levels (i. equip- continuous education. and optimized as a education globally available (high level). Although there are many the required/quali®ed work force for this competitive projects underway. upgrading and requirements of ment.. as a result system (as a whole) to achieve the required the current worldwide gaps of technical skills will be responsiveness (i.e. 1997). there is a lack of available tools and lower costs). Aronson. product variety.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 413 infrastructure (low level) of production plants should There have been reports relevant to future have certain characteristics such as modularity at manufacturing technologies. As reported. and higher (see the Next Generation Manufacturing Project. It should be mentioned that all of beginning of a new era of modern manufacturing these changes are required for faster response to systems and there are many barriers to their advances market globalization. Next Generation skill personnel for quick restructuring in response to Manufacturing Project.e..e. time). designed. we are still at the market (low level).. however. and methodologies to analyze the trade-off among Fig. customer expectations (i. 1997. They have all agreed that manufac- basis for rapid technology access which in turn makes turing should be viewed. In this regard. 1997. 1996. ¯at management. quality. multiple Technology Report. and technologies and their relations to the development of multidisciplinary programs to prepare rapidly changing market. processes. 3. extensive team-based approach in machine-tools (The Association for Manufacturing terms of human resources).

a survey is currently underway at the machines. there is a lack of effective manufacturing systems such as ¯exible machining communication among product designers. In this study. 1997. and methodologies should be developed for these purposes (see Fig. hardware/software. design concepts. 1997. 1997. enabling technologies needed to realize these bene®ts. Machine machining systems in future manufacturing facilities. 4. new theories. compo. and short- designers.g. University of Michigan. Next Generation Manufacturing Project. These include various con®gurations changes are fundamental to the success of future of the production system (e. and initial the results to date associated with the use of existing investment. 4. to make predictions based on their deep manufacturing systems. 1993. Also. process systems: its accomplishments. Rogers and Bottaci. Therefore. national/ There are a number of key interrelated enabling international experts in the ®eld of manufacturing technologies that should be developed and imple- are provided an opportunity.b) and are the and other experts' predictions. tools are going under some fundamental changes in As part of this second goal.414 Mehrabi. and to revise their own subject of another report that will be published later. con®guration of new machine controllers. strengths. hybrid). and machine-tool designers as it is comings in the manufacturing environment. 1997a. developments and relevant issues in manufacturing building blocks and con®guration of modular systems. in light of such discussions. 1997). The Association for Manufacturing systems Technology Report. Aronson. machine. Aspects of recon®guration (recon®gurable system. to discuss their own 1997. Technologies for recon®gurable machining Martin. rationale behind their forecasts. the panel will identify key terms of their structure (modular structure). justi®cations. . parallel. and process) for an RMS. second is to examine the potential roles. serial. nents (controllers. Advances in manufacturing will not occur without and enabling technologies for recon®gurable the proper machine-tools and equipment. software. Ulsoy and Koren processes. 1997). and modular tooling. 1996. controller. The necessary for design of a better manufacturing system. spindles. equipment. recon®guration of the factory communication To help assess the near-future (5±10 years) software. and sensors. via a series of survey mented to achieve the goals of recon®gurable instruments. The ®rst is to examine paragraphs. The results of this study will be reported in the near tooling). Mehrabi and Ulsoy. 3) (Garro and 5. life-cycle costs.. As shown in Fig. These recon®guration. future (Heytler. Fig. and recon®gurable manufacturing systems. Detailed discussion of the knowledge of the manufacturing ®eld to present the relevant issues are provided in (Koren and Ulsoy. modular processes. This survey project hopes Their brief discussions are provided in the following to accomplish two main goals. there are many aspects of Ashley.

and evaluate various con®gurations (based on life-cycle economics. As far as system software/ hardware architecture is concerned. In order that the system con®guration changes (based on for a system to be recon®gurable.e.e. 5). The RMS design problem is. posses certain key characteristics of recon®gurable Therefore. in order to physical parameters will change accordingly. Science base for RMSs. Some of the research issues that should be Fig. 6.. and then to research the Development of a uni®ed approach for design and system-level design issues. machine and controls) issues. system reliability. It should have a modular structure and be from among system-level issues. recon®gurable machines. inertia. is another important challenge in the design of an controls. 6). it should have In the process of designing and operating recon®gur- certain features to support the ®ve key characteristics able manufacturing systems one has to distinguish of RMSs. Key research issues in recon®gurable quality. component-level ``open'' such that upgrading and customization of the (i. quite con®gurations for production of the same part family. there could be several system system. preferences of decision manufacturing systems maker(s)) is needed. and ramp-up time system is practical while integration of new software reduction issues. 5. . the parameters of the production subsystems and components that have been designed machines such as mass. To achieve each systems should have the ability to recon®gure and of these new goals one must start with the de®nition of adapt themselves to these new conditions.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 415 At the system level.. monitoring and sensing of RMSs these subsystems and their components must be are other important subjects to be studied. Development of the necessary tools and methodolo- gies to design the system. it must consist of market demand). For a system to be recon®gurable. link them with machine- construction of recon®gurable machine-tool systems level research issues (i. Like any other design problem. the controller and process monitoring manufacturing systems (see Fig. and some other at the outset. complex since the number of variables is large. however. using scienti®c knowledge. is possible. a compromise them with the methods and tools for ramp-up time should be made among certain variables of the reduction. Control. By noting designed to be recon®gurable at the outset. a part family (see Fig. and machining processes) and complement RMS.

6. * Analysis and design of the full process from recognizing customer needs (or anticipated needs) through operation selection and system speci®cation. reuse. As described plan. 6. System level design starts with the common previously. Research issues in machine-level design tools that relate the product features to modules of Recon®gurable manufacturing systems require design processing units and yield a system layout and process at both the system and machine levels. * Economic analysis of various system con®gura- level goals. and methods for the rapid and Some of the key research issues in system level ef®cient reuse of such modules is also essential for design are: recon®gurability. and new modules added to the catalog as they . and cost. and an open-architecture con- ®ts the customer requirements ( part mix and volume) troller are key enabling technologies. and diagnosable to support (the input). However. thermal compensa- * Analysis of the impact of system con®guration tion algorithms) must be cataloged and stored for on reliability.g. and ramp-up reduction goals are described tions and their selection. in the following subsections. components (e. machine.. are not suf®cient.416 Mehrabi. struc- * Development of a systematic approach for tural modules. quality. Research issues in system-level design Design of recon®gurable systems is accomplished through a systematic approach. Ulsoy and Koren Fig. axis drive modules) and controller design of RMS at the system level. Modular machine con®guration and economic machining system that component design. Machine components (e. The outcome is an optimized system recon®guration and ramp-up. the design must be modular.. geometric features and tolerance of the part family customized.2. developed to support system-level goals. they and the customer manufacturing practices. convertible.g. servo control. supported by software 6. Steps involved in system design of RMSs. integrable.1.

28±32. Literature reviews revealed that no systematic reading the manuscript and providing important approach exist to identify root-causes of components comments for improvement of the quality of this failure. and can take months or even years with traditional Kumara. (1995) Role in CIM success. A. M. gurable machines is used to plan the processing A recent study (National Research Council. some of the concepts already developed in the area of expert systems and arti®cial intelligence (AI) can be adopted and used to address similar issues in the context of recon®gurable manufacturing systems. Badiru. and quality and process variations. Examples of general applications of production volume. feeds has identi®ed recon®gurable manufacturing as the and speeds). and Soysters. B. cess control. production systems. 27(12). We have identi®ed Acknowledgment lack of systematic approaches to diagnosing compo- nent failure as being the most critical obstacle in ramp. Manufacturing Engineering. For RMS to be practical.Recon®gurable manufacturing systems: Key to future manufacturing 417 are created. these modules must be * Design of robust components that can operate con®gured into one or more feasible candidate reliably and safely under different operating con®gurations.3. We greatly appreciate Prof. system level speci®cations. S. R. Industrial of components failure. After the RMS is recon®gured. research goals should be aimed at development of methodologies and fundamental theories for ramp-up References time reduction for recon®gurable machining systems. variations. their depths. it is possible to use or extend the quickly produce two different parts for the existing theories or concepts in the context of RMSs. This is referred to as ramp-up. fault diagnosis. Kashyap. (1997) Manufacturing ®rms face the future. Research issues for ramp-up time reduction areas such as operation and process planning. * Development of fundamental principles and However. Therefore.g. 108±112. based upon the highest priority for future research in manufacturing. * Development of systematic approaches and Mechanical Engineering. topics to be explored. AI can have potential applications in the 6. B. Recon®gurable Machining Systems (ERC/RMS) at Some of the key research issues in machine level the University of Michigan has already established design are: several key research projects in most of these areas. and quality and process Engineering. (1992) Expert Systems Applications in . We would appreciate the support of the NSF of robust components that can operate reliably and and industrial partners of the Engineering Research safely under different condition is a major issue in Center for Recon®gurable Machining Systems at the ramp-up reduction. Then an optimal design. 1988.Stecke for critically up. production optimization. For example. pro- must typically be ``®ne-tuned'' before it can con. Also. K. and It should be mentioned that while there are needs * Design and development of a set of simple for development of new underlying theories to resolve recon®gurable machines and controllers to some of these issues. 1987. we are just at the beginning of a new era in techniques for the design and analysis of manufacturing and there are many more research recon®gurable machines along with their con. 70±74. trollers. (1997) Operation plug-and-play is on the time reduction are: way. and module selection sistently produce at the required quality and process of RMSs. AI in these subjects can be found in (Kusiak. fundamental principles to identify root-causes Attaran. The Engineering Research Center for machine-level design software. Ashley. conditions. Badiru. 1991). sequence of cuts. it is necessary to signi®cantly reduce ramp-up times for both new and recon®gured systems. Furthermore. Process planning software for recon®. proof of concept. the production system production scheduling.. Some of the key research issues related to ramp-up Aronson. lack paper. 1998) operations (e. is selected from among and one of the six key manufacturing challenges for the feasible candidate designs generated by the RMS the year 2020. some of the basic University of Michigan.

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