In our last two blogs we’ve talked about the changing mindsets of consumers, and the effects those changes have had on manufacturing. In particular, we’ve looked at how access to a global market has made consumers more discerning with their tastes and purchasing habits. To compete for a consumer base with more options than ever before, companies have to offer more diversity in their product lines. Increased product diversity has created a need for more flexible manufacturing systems.
In the past, systems have been geared towards high volume output of a singular product. More and more, companies are looking for machinery that can accommodate smaller runs across a wider variety of parts, materials and manufacturing operations. This can mean allowing for different types of product inspection as well. To achieve all of this, flexibility needs to be built into the base manufacturing system. In this way, the door is open for new and different manufacturing cells and tooling to be added down the line. Allowing for these additions can mean investing more in the base machine. But the cost of that base machine is spread across more parts, and a longer life span as the machine can evolve with your product line.
Flexibility allows manufacturers to not only handle different products, but product improvements as well. Today, companies are presented with a tremendous amount of feedback on their products, requiring them to constantly update and upgrade those products. Flexible manufacturing systems allow manufacturers across an ever widening spectrum of industries to handle the changes and upgrades that invariably take place over a product’s lifecycle.