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  • 1.
    Asadi, Narges
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Flexibility in assembly systems using product design2017Doctoral 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.

  • 2.
    Asadi, Narges
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Supporting flexibility in an assembly system through product design2015Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Increasing customer demands for product variety in conjunction with the short lifecycle of products has caused manufacturing companies to introduce a wide range of products by accommodating flexibility. An assembly system is an essential part of the manufacturing system from both cost and time perspectives. Hence, the shift towards flexibility in manufacturing companies highlights the significance of establishing flexible assembly systems and designing products that are closely aligned with them. Despite its significance, however, the flexible assembly system concept and its requirements for product design have not been clearly defined in research and from a practical point of view. Most research on flexible assembly systems has mainly approached either the design or the balancing and scheduling issues of these systems, whereas only a few studies have briefly defined the flexible assembly system they focused on, without further specifying the characteristics of a flexible assembly system and its requirements for product design.

    Taking that into account, the objective of this work is to provide a framework to contribute to the understanding of the concept of flexibility in an assembly system and its requirements for product design. In order to fulfil the objective, four empirical studies combined with literature reviews have been conducted. The empirical studies, a multiple case study and three single case studies, investigate the definition of flexibility in an assembly system as well as the requirements that a flexible assembly system imposes on product design.

    Through its findings, this research provides a definition of flexibility in assembly systems that mainly revolves around volume, mix and new product flexibility. In addition, six constituents of a flexible assembly system have been identified: adaptable material supply, versatile workforce, increased commonality, standardised work content, integrated product properties and strategic planning. Furthermore, three requirements of a flexible assembly system for product design are defined, which, if fulfilled, reduce the complexity created by product variety and consequently support flexibility in the assembly system. Accordingly, to increase the understanding of the concept of flexibility in an assembly system and its requirements for product design, a four-staged framework is suggested. The proposed framework deals with the activities related to the concept and the development of a flexible assembly system and is expected to be received by assembly practitioners as a link between assembly and product design teams in the product realisation process. Future research can further validate the framework in practice.

  • 3.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Exploring optimal flexible assembly systems2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    As a prominent part of manufacturing system, assembly system provides a platform for increasing efficiency while delivering various market demands. However, due to the lack of a unified and clear definition of flexibility in assembly systems, the recognition of optimal flexibility in assembly system without clashing with efficiency still remains elusive. In order to establish a sound basis to discuss the characteristics of flexible assembly and to address the question of reaching optimal flexibility, this paper makes use of a case study performed in five manufacturing plants. The study proposes a clear definition for flexible assembly and identifies six enablers for flexibility in assembly systems. Further in this research the applicability of few different types of manufacturing flexibility in assembly system is investigated. The paper concludes with discussions and suggestions for future research.

  • 4.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    The Essential Constituents of Flexible Assembly Systems: A Case Study in the Heavy Vehicle Manufacturing Industry2015In: Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, ISSN 0972-2696, Vol. 16, no 3, p. 235-250Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The major challenge of today’s manufacturing industry in tackling demands for a wider range of products with short life-cycle times and meeting customisation requirements has drawn considerable attention towards flexibility in manufacturing systems. As a prominent part of a manufacturing system, an assembly system provides a platform for increasing efficiency while delivering various market demands. However, owing to the dearth of a unified and clear definition of the constituents of flexible assembly systems, in both theory and practice, the recognition of flexibility in assembly systems still remains elusive. In order to establish a sound base for discussing the constituents of flexible assembly systems, this research paper explores the literature concerning flexibility in manufacturing and assembly as well as in flexible systems management domains. To reflect an industrial perspective, a multiple case study of five manufacturing plants in the heavy vehicle industry is performed. By identifying six essential constituents of flexibility in assembly systems, the study proposes a clear definition of flexibility in assembly systems which mainly revolves around mix and volume flexibility. To further enhance the findings, the compatibility of a few previously identified types of manufacturing flexibility in the assembly systems of the case plants is investigated and additional dimensions of flexibility in assembly systems are revealed. Finally, the implications for theory and practice as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

  • 5.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Guaragni, F.
    Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany.
    Johannknecht, F.
    Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany.
    Saidani, M.
    CentraleSupélec, Université Paris-Saclay, France.
    Scholle, P.
    Paderborn University, Germany.
    Borg, J.
    University of Malta, Malta.
    Panasiuk, D.
    University of Technology of Troyes, France.
    Success factors of an ipd based approach in a remote multidisciplinary team environment - Reflections on a case study2017In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED, Design Society , 2017, no DS87-9, p. 31-40Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Integrated Product Development (IPD) is comprehensively discussed in literature. The human-centered approach offers a parallelized set of work activities in interdisciplinary teams. Due to the rapid globalization of IPD activities in the companies, project members are often obliged to work remotely in teams and through virtual means of communication. However, with the recent shift towards working remotely in IPD teams new challenges have emerged that might adversely affect the success of IPD projects. The objective of the paper is to outline the key factors strengthening and weakening the IPD process in a remote multidisciplinary team environment. To fulfill the objective, a case study on an international multidisciplinary team of postgraduate students working on a design project with an IPD approach, was conducted. The results highlight key success factors and their contributions to the project success in a remote multidisciplinary team environment. Additionally, key weaknesses of such approach and their negative impacts are also indicated.

  • 6.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, M.
    Jönköping University.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Implications of realizing mix flexibility in assembly systems for product modularity—A case study2019In: Journal of manufacturing systems, ISSN 0278-6125, E-ISSN 1878-6642, Vol. 52, p. 13-22Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    To enable the production of high product variety, mix flexibility in assembly systems is of paramount importance for manufacturing companies. Mixed-product assembly lines (MPALs) are growing as the key means of realizing mix flexibility in many manufacturing sectors, as they absorb volume fluctuations and offer high product variety. With the increasing product variety in MPALs, these assembly systems are becoming more complex. However, the practical challenges of these assembly systems, in particular those concerning product design, have not been adequately addressed. By performing a case study of a heavy machinery manufacturing company, this paper investigates the implications of realizing mix flexibility in an assembly system for product modularity. The findings pinpoint the low level of product modularity in assembly as the most important challenge in MPALs. Accordingly, realizing mix flexibility in an MPAL impacts product modularity through establishing a common assembly sequence and defining similar module contents across distinct product families.

  • 7.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Augustsson, P.
    FlexQube, Sweden.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    An assembly-oriented product design methodology to develop similar assembly operations in a mixed-product assembly line2017In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED, Design Society , 2017, no DS87-5, p. 131-140Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    With the growing demands for product variety, Mixed-Product Assembly Lines (MPALs) as an effective means of creating product variety are recently increasing in manufacturing companies. However, handling different products from distinct product families creates high complexity in performing assembly operations in an MPAL. The elevated complexity, calls for increased similarity between assembly operations in an MPAL which requires product design changes accordingly. Hence, the objective of this paper is to suggest an assembly-oriented product design methodology to increase similar assembly operations for various products cross-product families. The proposed methodology uses Interface Diagram, a product architecture modelling tool, for comparing assembly operations crossproduct families, suggesting an assembly-oriented design, and communicating it to designers. The methodology has been developed by conducting a case study in heavy vehicle manufacturing industry. The results highlight a visual approach towards establishing a common language between assembly and design teams to consider the requirements of an MAPL in product design.

  • 8.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation. Volvo Construction Equipment, Eskilstuna.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Drivers of complexity in a flexible assembly system- A case study2016Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Various ever-changing market demands have propelled manufacturing companies to offer product variety in an efficient and timely manner. Assembly as a key stage of manufacturing process is used to realise product variety through establishing mixed-product assembly systems. Although establishing a flexible mixed-product assembly system which both offers product variety and absorbs market demands fluctuation is pivotal for maintaining competitive edge in certain industries such as vehicle manufacturing, it is also considered an elaborate task which calls for further investigation. In this paper, complexity in a flexible mixed-product assembly line is investigated and the key drivers of complexity are identified. To fulfil the research objective, a case study during the pilot implementation of a flexible mixed-product assembly concept in a heavy vehicle manufacturing company has been conducted. The results indicate the key factors concerning assembly process, product design, and information and communication technology (ICT) which contribute to complexity in the flexible assembly system. The paper concludes with an outlook for possible future research.

  • 9.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Handling product variety in a mixed-product assembly line: A case study2015In: DS 80-4 PROCEEDINGS OF THE 20TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENGINEERING DESIGN (ICED 15) VOL 4: DESIGN FOR X, DESIGN TO X, 2015, Vol. 4, p. 41-50Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In today’s fast-changing global market, using mixed-product assembly lines (MPALs) and mixed-model assembly lines (MMALs) allows manufacturing companies to be flexible and to maintain their competitive edge through product variety. Balancing and sequencing issues have been recognized as the main challenges of MPALs and MMALs, but other practical needs of MPALs remain unclear. Recognizing the practical needs of MPALs helps in identifying related requirements for product design, leading to products that closely align with the MPAL concept. The objective of this paper is to offer an industrial perspective on the needs of MPALs and to identify its requirements vis-à-vis product design. To achieve this objective, a single real-time case study in a heavy-vehicle-manufacturing company has been performed. The results from this industrial case study suggest that in order to handle product variety in MPALs and to reduce the related complexity, certain dimensions of flexibility need to be created in the assembly system, and requirements related to product design should be considered simultaneously in order to support assembly processes.

  • 10.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Identification of the causes of complexity in mixed-product and mixed-model assembly lines2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The increasing demands for product variety have directed manufacturing companies towards accommodating flexibility by establishing mixed-product and mixed-model assembly lines. However, since greater variety leads to increased complexity, establishing these assembly lines becomes complicated. By conducting a case study, this paper investigates the causes of complexity and the applicability of assembly instructions in one mixed-product and four mixed-model assembly lines in a heavy vehicle manufacturing company. The results indicate a set of causes for complexity and highlight the significance of assembly instructions, as the practical implications for development of flexible assembly systems and design of products closely aligned with them.

  • 11.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Linking product design to flexibility in an assembly system: A case study2017In: Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, ISSN 1741-038X, E-ISSN 1758-7786, Vol. 28, no 5, p. 610-630Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 12.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats R.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Towards Establishing Similar Assembly Interfaces for a Mixed-product Assembly System2016In: Procedia CIRP, 2016, p. 635-640Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Developing a mixed-product assembly line (MPAL) is an elaborate task due to the complexity raised by product variety. This paper proposes that securing similar assembly interfaces across distinct product families is an essential requirement of MPALs which facilitates flexibility and reduces complexity. The concept of similar assembly interfaces has been developed and analysed in a case study at a heavy vehicle manufacturing company. The results suggest that assembly interfaces can be defined according to generic assembly operation steps: pick, place and attach. The paper highlights the need for development of a cross-functional methodology to analyse and establish similar assembly interfaces.

  • 13.
    Asadi, Narges
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Schedin, Joel
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Fundin, Anders
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Jackson, Mats
    Mälardalen University, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Innovation and Product Realisation.
    Considering assembly requirement specifications in product development: identification and approach2014In: FAIM 2014 - Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing: Capturing Competitive Advantage via Advanced Manufacturing and Enterprise Transformation, 2014, p. 969-976Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Due to the major advantages such as reduced time to market and improved quality at lowered cost, the principles of design for assembly capabilities and concurrent engineering are of great significance when developing new products. However, identifying assembly requirement specifications and considering them in New Product Development (NPD) in a timely manner, while securing efficiency and robustness of assembly processes, still remains a challenging task. In presenting a case study of an NPD project in a manufacturing company, this article focuses on the process of capturing and incorporating the requirements related to the assembly system during the early phases of NPD. Further, the results of the research study indicate the different assembly requirements in the case company and pinpoint the challenges in practices involved in handling them. The assembly requirements identified in this research reflect some of the challenges encountered in handling the requirements, through the investigated requirement practice. Based on the results, the issues of when and how to consider the assembly requirements are highlighted in the conclusions and suggestions for future research are made.

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