Flexible Manufacturing

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Computer-Assisted Design and Computer-Assisted Manufacturing have increased the productivity and the quality of parts produced in the manufacturing industry.  Integrated with machinery, they increase product consistency, holding tolerances across production runs.  Another benefit being changes to design can be made, adjusted, and reviewed for customer approval before production begins.  My organization utilizes the 3D CAD software Solid Works to create models, which are submitted to clients, sent to vendors, and used for in house product manufacturing.  We also utilize Cam Works which takes machinable parts from a Solid Works model to produce programs sent to machines.  Inputting raw material dimensions allows this CAM program to efficiently nest parts, using the same material, to accurately determine material usage, optimize material yield, and utilize economies of scope.  Although products are made to meet demand in small production runs, mass customization allows production with low-costs.  Once programs are made, they can be pulled whenever needed, allowing for quick product production with minimum set up times.  “Flexible manufacturing permits the low-volume output of custom-tailored products at relatively low costs through economies of scope.  It is thus possible to have the cost advantages of continuous systems with customer-oriented advantages of intermittent systems.”  (Wheelen, Hunger, Bamford, & Hoffman, (2015), p. 147).  Flexible manufacturing essentially implements the benefits of both systems to lower production costs to efficiently manufacture client specific custom products.

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