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Linking product design to flexibility in an assembly system: A case study
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3560-9372
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4308-2678
Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3187-7932
2017 (English)In: Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, ISSN 1741-038X, E-ISSN 1758-7786, Vol. 28, no 5, p. 610-630Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - The recent shift towards accommodating flexibility in manufacturing companies and the complexity resulting from product variety highlight the significance of flexible assembly systems and designing products for them. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design from the assembly system's standpoint. Design/methodology/approach - To fulfil the purpose of the paper, a literature review and a case study were performed. The case study was conducted with an interactive research approach in a global market leader company within the heavy vehicle manufacturing industry. Findings - The findings indicate that common assembly sequence, similar assembly interfaces, and common parts are the main requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design which reduce complexity and facilitate various flexibility dimensions. Accordingly, a model is proposed to broaden the understanding of these requirements from the assembly system's standpoint. Research limitations/implications - This study contributes to the overlapping research area of flexible assembly systems and product design. Practical implications - The proposed model is largely based on practical data and clarifies the role of product design in facilitating flexibility in an assembly system. It can be used by assembly managers, assembly engineers, and product designers. Originality/value - The key originality of this paper compared to the previous studies lies in presenting a novel assembly-oriented design model. The model enhances understanding of a flexible assembly system's requirements for product design with regard to reducing complexity and managing variation in a flexible assembly system. These requirements can be applied to product design across various product families within a company's product portfolio.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. , 2017. Vol. 28, no 5, p. 610-630
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-36201DOI: 10.1108/JMTM-10-2016-0144ISI: 000406799400003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85026320035OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-36201DiVA, id: diva2:1130652
Available from: 2017-08-10 Created: 2017-08-10 Last updated: 2017-11-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Flexibility in assembly systems using product design
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Flexibility in assembly systems using product design
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Growing customer demands for product variety, new and rapid technological developments, and the short life cycle of products characterise the current volatile market. To maintain a competitive edge in the market, manufacturing companies need to accommodate flexibility in their assembly systems that are essential parts of the manufacturing systems with respect to cost, time, and creating product variety. Given the importance of establishing flexible assembly systems, the complexity raised by increasing product variety and the value of appropriate product designs to assembly systems highlight the pivotal role of product design in a flexible assembly system. Despite its significance to theory and practice, however, the characteristics of flexibility in an assembly system and its links to product design are still ambiguous and unexplored.

The objective of this thesis is to expand the current knowledge of flexibility in assembly systems and using product design to support its achievement. To accomplish the objective and by adopting an interactive research approach, five case studies were conducted in the heavy machinery manufacturing industry. A literature review underpins all the case studies comprising one multiple and four single case studies.

Through its findings, this research defines flexibility in an assembly system, identifies its dimensions, and pinpoints its enablers. Additionally, three requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design are identified: a common assembly sequence, similar assembly interfaces, and common parts. These requirements, if fulfilled in product design across distinct product families, reduce the perceived complexity and support various flexibility dimensions in the assembly system. Moreover, the development of a common assembly sequence and similar assembly interfaces, as the two key requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design, is described.

Further, based upon developing understanding and knowledge about a flexible assembly system and its requirements for product design, a model and a framework are proposed. The model addresses the role of product design in achieving flexibility in an assembly system. To support the alignment of product design with the key requirements of a flexible assembly system during the product design process, the assembly-oriented framework details the development of these requirements. Through its outcomes, this thesis contributes to the research area of flexible assembly systems and sheds light on its interface with the engineering design field. Moreover, the proposed model and framework aim to assist assembly practitioners and product designers in establishing a flexible assembly system and aligning product design with its key requirements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University Press, 2017
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 244
National Category
Engineering and Technology Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Innovation and Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-37176 (URN)978-91-7485-356-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-15, Raspen, Mälardalens högskola, Eskilstuna, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-01 Created: 2017-11-01 Last updated: 2017-11-28Bibliographically approved

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Asadi, NargesJackson, MatsFundin, Anders

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