Typical production lines in a factory are highly customised and expensive to reconfigure. Stations were centrally controlled by a PLC and sensors are placed along conveyor systems to monitor goods being produced. Such design is often difficult to modify or scale without reprogramming the centralized PLC and going offline to test and commission the new modifications.
This innovation introduces a decentralised, modular production station and conveyor system that improves flexibility and scalability of production lines. The modular manufacturing cell supports the low-volume, high-mix production process by allowing different goods to share some production process (e.g. packing) while each having unique assembly steps along the production line.
The innovation comprises of the following modular components:
The modular manufacturing cells are easily reconfigurable, reducing the total cost of implementation of the production line. The system is scalable allowing "farms" of processing station arrays to be added incrementally or reconfigured even when production is online.
Typical manufacturing lines are customised to produce a predefined recipe of goods. Each line is typically configured to be responsible for one recipe and requires significant changeover and stabilization time making it increasingly unsuitable for the low-volume, high-mix manufacturing. Shorter product life requires shorter ROI period for dedicated investment in new manufacturing lines. Manufacturers find it challenging to produce low-volume high-mix products in their manufacturing lines.
These cells provide more flexibility as they are reusable, scalable manufacturing modules that can be used to build multiple products on the same production line, maximizing reuse and minimizing reconfiguration cost to scale or add product variation. The cells are suitable for both high-volume, low-mix production, and low-volume, high-mix production.
The cells are able to provide a host of benefits as below: