An Hierarchical Planning, Loading, Routing and Control Scheme for Flexible Manufacturing Systems
Flexible manufacturing systems (FMSs) typically contain a set of numerically controlled workstations and a material handling system coordinated by a central controller for the purpose of simultaneous production of a variety of part types. General purpose machining centers are used with automatic tool change and part load/unload capability to permit quick, automated changeovers from workpiece to workpiece and part type to part type. The FMS represents a significant investment in training, hardware and software. This investment is justified by the ability of the system to produce a variety of high quality parts with short lead times while requiring less floor space than traditional systems. The key here is the flexibility of the system to change tools and route parts as needed to maintain high effective utilization rates for machines as the part mix varies. The average FMS manufactures 80 different parts with machines cutting over 75% of the time (Jaikumar and Van Wassenhove ).
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