Companies are often confronted with the challenge of changing the configuration of a product during the manufacturing process. A new variant has to be added to the construction plan, the quantity of the product to be manufactured increases or previously unknown production resources open up new possibilities. In such cases an adaptive system responds immediately by adapting the manufacturing sequence accordingly.
A system for manufacturing I/O modules is a practical example of an autonomous and adaptive application. One challenge is to manufacture the ever-increasing number of different I/O module variants, which sometimes are ordered in small batch sizes, as well as prototypes of individual modules, cost-effectively in the long term.
I/O modules are currently manufactured in production systems with processes that can be adapted to virtually any requirement.
This is possible thanks to the use of freely combinable system modules. This requires uniform interfaces as well as autonomous control of the basic processes. This concept enables the simultaneous production of different variants. All workstations, assembly machines, and test cells required in the respective stage of the manufacturing process can be connected to the manufacturing system.
A workpiece carrier circulation system, which can be extended as desired, enables the flexible networking of all conceivable production resources to form a single manufacturing system. In addition to a suitable circulation architecture, uniform electrical and electropneumatic interfaces are required in order for the individual production resources to be used on a non-location-specific basis. These include manual workstations as well as fully automatic marking cells. What's more, all resources involved control their non-product-specific basic processes autonomously in order to integrate them remotely into the manufacturing concept.
Small batch sizes can already be manufactured at the same cost as mass production. It is easier to formulate ideas about the introduction of new products. Manufacturers can also respond quickly to increased sales volumes. To do so, processes of the same type are doubled, for example.
Investments in equipment can therefore be adapted to the current sales volume in good time. Furthermore, technological further developments in manufacturing processes can be quickly and easily integrated into production lines. All that is required is the replacement of a few process modules.