Can a production batch size of one be cost effective?
Industrial Automation equipment manufacturers know it is critical that their products are easily integrated into IIoT manufacturing operations. They enable producers to become more agile in responding quickly to changing consumer demands. But is the goal of a batch size of one realistic?
Making a larger number of products more efficiently is only a benefit if they are what the consumers want and buy. The concept of mass customisation was first used by Stan Davis in his 1987 book, Future Perfect. It refers to the use of computer automated manufacturing to produce cost effective small batch production at mass production costs. Industrial automation has moved in that direction ever since, but the Industrial Internet of things is making it feasible.
Batch size of one?
To meet customer demands, manufacturers need to consider how they can match wider product variety with smaller batch sizes. For Omron, the goal is a batch size of one by tailoring production line changes to each individual customer’s needs. Their answer is the i-Automation programme, providing high quality, sustainability and operational excellence that will help meet any future demands.
i-Automation stands for integrated, intelligent and interactive, allowing the full range of Omron control and sensing products to work together. Controlled by Omron’s Sysmac automation platform, they are interoperable and easily integrated into any production environment. Moreover, the Sysmac software platform provides a single development environment to ease application development.
Omron’s intelligent systems incorporate sophisticated machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence. They give the user the capability to make the correct decisions close to the line needing them. The controllers also feature an integrated SQL database to simplify communication between the factory floor and the IT layer. This allows data and control commands to flow freely in both directions.
This local intelligent decision making, access to control data and long-term IT layer information improves productivity and prevents product failure. Advanced HMI visualisation technology also makes access to process and performance data available wherever required.
Manufacturers face many challenges when moving towards an agile and flexible production environment. Omron Automation is a key enabler digital manufacturing to deliver a batch size of one sooner than you think.
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