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What is Flexible manufacturing?

Flexible manufacturing is also referred to as flexible manufacturing system or FMS. This is a type of manufacturing system that allows for some flexibility during production. If you are considering using flexible manufacturing, the first step is to clearly determine what the system entails.

The main reason that flexible manufacturing systems are considered flexible, is because the controllers (which control the machines on the production line), can be reprogrammed. After reprogramming the controllers, they can then relay new orders to the machines and robots that are conducting the work on the production line. In addition, a machine can begin to use older, raw materials in new ways, or create new products.

Flexible manufacturing is a fairly news manufacturing method. It works through a computer based technology. It is important to understand that there are some limitations where this can be used. Flexible manufacturing is most often used in a manufacturing where, the machines and other equipment that is used on the production line are able to communicate with each other. Each of these machines can all be programmed, and have a controller. Each machine also needs to have a program written for it, so that it can work effectively in the flexible manufacturing system.

What makes the system flexible is that a person can rewrite the program, and through this new program, they can communicate different instructions to the machines and robots, that are working on the production line. If a production line did not use a flexible manufacturing system, the machines and robots, on the production or assembly line, would continue to perform the same exact tasks each time it worked. The machines that are on the flexible manufacturing production line, communicate with each other, through an electronic connection. This electronic connection communication is conducted through their controllers. Local-area networks make it possible for the communication to take place quickly throughout the whole manufacturing plant.

Employees can send commands to the machines through their computer based controllers. Once the command is received, the controller will then communicate the command to the machine. The orders cover a multiple number of production factors. They can tell the machines what materials are needed, when to begin production, when to stop production, and even scheduling when production needs to take place.

There are many advantages in using a flexible manufacturing system. One of the biggest advantages to using a flexible manufacturing system is that it is by its very nature-flexible. The computer controlled robots and machines will not continuously have to perform the same task all of the time. They can perform other tasks if the production need requires it of them. In addition, being able to control the machines and robots, that are performing the work, through a computer, can make it easier to make changes, instead of having to get a new machine or robot, or not being able to make a new product. Also, many times manufactures will also see an improvement in the quality of their products when they use a flexible manufacturing system. Manufacturers who use flexible manufacturing systems often see an increase in productivity. This is because they can save on labor costs, and instead of having to hire more people, for the production line when there is a change, they just need to reprogram the machines or robots.

However, it is important to note that there are some disadvantages of using a flexible manufacturing system. You should keep in mind the initial cost of getting a flexible manufacturing system. Flexible manufacturing systems can be prohibitively expensive. Some manufacturers using this system also report a decrease in overall productivity, due to the machine being used to make many different products.

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