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During the last two decades, the impact of automation on manufacturing has sharply increased. Nowadays, computers can play a role in every aspect of the production process, ranging from the design of a new product to the inspection of its quality. In some types of industry automated manufacturing has a long history, for instance in chemical or oil-refining industries. However, in the batch-manufacturing industries, like the metalworking industry or the electronics industry, the concept of automated manufacturing was introduced only in the 1970’s, causing a profound effect on manufacturing and the way it is organized. So-called flexible manufacturing systems (FMSs) emerged as a critical component in the development towards the “factory of the future”. Our focus will be on this type of industry. On the one hand, automated manufacturing has a wide variety of potential benefits to offer to batch-manufacturing industries. One of the most important advantages is the increased ability to respond to changes in demand. This is important in view of today’s fast changing demand and short product cycles. Other possible advantages include shorter lead times, lower inventories and higher machine utilization. On the other hand, it is not an easy task to make an efficient use of the newly offered possibilities. In particular, planning the use of a system consisting of a number of connected, complicated machines using limited resources can constitute a formidable challenge.
KeywordsSchedule Problem Planning Problem Part Type Automate Manufacturing Material Handling System
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