Reconfigurable production systems needed for 21st Century manufacturing
Traditional manufacturing systems are poorly suited to the highly competitive, globalised markets of today according to a new book co-authored by Duncan McFarlane, Professor of Service and Support Engineering at the IfM. With a constant stream of new products and a growing demand for customisation, manufacturers need production facilities that can be reconfigured easily and quickly in order to cope robustly with constant change and disruption.
While the chemical and petrochemical industries have, in the recent past, tended to focus on mass production and reducing production costs, the changes brought about by increased competition and globalisation demand a new approach, says Prof. McFarlane. The traditional 'hierarchical' control system used in most production facilities is too inflexible and breaks down under the pressure of constant change. Instead, the book proposes modular processes, supported by distributed control systems, capable of making decisions and reconfiguring production to suit the evolving conditions.
A distributed coordination approach to reconfigurable process control is co-authored by Nirav Chokshi, a former graduate student of the IfM. It is published by Springer as part of its Advanced Manufacturing series.