What is Flexible Manufacturing Systems

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A Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is a way of producing products that are flexible to change. FMS differentiate itself from a standard automated production line by being able to produce different products and models at the same time.
The system is designed for a product range, and can cope with introducing anything within this range.

Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) Components

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is one of the lean tools and consist of following components.

  • Processing Machine: Automated machines that perform all the required machine operations.
  • Material Handling System: A system that is able to transport all type of product between all of the machines used.
  • Central Computer: The computer system will control all the activities of the machines as well as the material handling within the Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS)
  • People: The system is designed with automation in mind, but some manual work is still needed in terms of managing the system.

Competing Factor of FMS

There are several areas where companies can compete with each other, price, quality, delivery time, service, and flexibility are all factors to compete on.
There are many advantages by using Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS), but cost might not always be the case due to the high cost of developing the system and the often high-tech machines.
The area Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is strong is flexibility. If FMS is setup in a manufacturing cell, it could be as simple as going to the central computer and enter a new part number, for changing the products being produced.
Following the loading units, conveyors and machines would all automatically change to run the new product.

Flexibility of FMS

The flexibility that can be achieved is

  • System can produce a variety of products on same machines.
  • System can produce new products on existing machines.
  • System capable to cope with design changes on products.

FMS History

Flexible Manufacturing Systems is originally from England, and date back to the 1960s. It was a flexible machine that could run 24 hours a day controlled by a computer and without interaction from people.
In the early days only few companies could afford the implementation of FMS, as both machinery and software were very expensive. Today there is a lot of focus on smaller systems, also called Flexible Manufacturing Cells (FMC). The smaller systems and decrease in price open up for a lot more companies to implement and use FMS.

If you are interested in lean and how to make your organisation more efficient, then our 5S Training might be interesting for you. 5S is usually one of the first elements implemented when starting out with lean, as it gives a great foundation for further improvements.

Alternatively you can continue to our Quality Training page to see some of the other training we have to offer offer.

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Flexible Manufacturing Systems