Human Performance in Planning and Scheduling

By Bart MacCarthy; John Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTERNINE

Human Factors in the Planning and Scheduling of Flexible Manufacturing Systems

Jannes Slomp


9.1

INTRODUCTION

An FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System) is a computer-controlled system consisting of automated workstations linked by a material handling system and capable of processing different jobs simultaneously. The FMS concept evolved in the early 1970s. During the 1980s, there seemed to be general agreement that the use of FMS would spread widely. The general idea is that FMS enable firms to achieve the efficiency of automated, high-volume mass production while retaining the flexibility of low-volume job-shop production. Despite the potential advantages of FMS, their use is spreading somewhat slowly. This is mainly because flexible manufacturing systems have not been as profitable to users as some other innovations (Mansfield, 1993). Technical, organizational, and environmental (changes in the market place) problems have also had a negative impact on the profitability of FMS (Slomp, 1997). The less-than-expected profitability of FMS has negatively affected the imitation rate in industry. It is, however, expected that the majority of firms in the automobile, electric equipment, machinery and aerospace industries in Japan, the United States and Western Europe will install FMS in the course of time.

Jaikumar (1986), describing application in several countries, found that industry worldwide seems to prefer small FMS with large buffer storages for pallets/products and simple routings of workpieces. Often, the smaller systems offer the advantage of unmanned or lightly manned production for some period of time. The trend towards smaller FMS in the last decade of the 20th century was further stimulated by developments in manufacturing technology. The productivity of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines has been increased as a result of more revolutions per minute and improved cutting tools. Furthermore, there is a tendency to integrate more manufacturing techniques into one single machining centre. Apart from these technological changes, the move towards modular components of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) connected through intelligent (AI) systems also reduces the advantages of large FMS. There is a trend towards intelligent, open, modular, lcw cost systems (Kopacek, 1999).

The contribution of this chapter is that it explores the human factors which play a role in the planning and scheduling of FMS. Several authors have reviewed literature on planning, scheduling and control of FMS (Dhar, 1986; Shanker and

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