PurposeCurrent major roadmapping efforts have all clearly underlined that true industrial sustainability will require far higher levels of systems' autonomy and adaptability. In accordance with these recommendations, the Evolvable Assembly Systems (EAS) has aimed at developing such technological solutions and support mechanisms. Since its inception in 2002 as a next generation of production systems, the concept is being further developed and tested to emerge as a production system paradigm. The essence of evolvability resides not only in the ability of system components to adapt to the changing conditions of operation, but also to assist in the evolution of these components in time. Characteristically, Evolvable systems have distributed control, and are composed of intelligent modules with embedded control. To assist the development and life cycle, a methodological framework is being developed. After validating the process‐oriented approach (EC FP6 EUPASS project), EAS now tackles its current major challenge (FP7 IDEAS project) in proving that factory responsiveness can be improved using lighter multi‐agent technology running on EAS modules (modules with embedded control). The purpose of this paper is to detail the particular developments within the IDEAS project, which include the first self re‐configuring system demonstration and a new mechatronic architecture.Design/methodology/approachThe paper covers the development of a plug & produce system for FESTO AG. The work covers the background methodology and details its constituents: control system, architecture, design methodology, and modularity. Specific detail is reserved for the configuration approach which integrates several tools, and the commercially available control boards. The latter have been specifically developed for distributed control applications.FindingsThe paper details probably the first self‐configuring assembly system at shop‐floor level. This is one of the very first industrial plug & produce systems, in which equipment may be added/removed with no programming effort at all.Research limitations/implicationsThe paper reports the findings and development carried out within the framework of a single project. It also clarifies that the solution is not a general panacea for all the issues within assembly.Practical implicationsThe implications are quite large as the work proves the validity of an approach that could change our way of designing and building assembly systems. In the words of an industrial partner, this is “a new way of engineering assembly systems”.Social implicationsShould this approach be used in industry then the implications could be huge. It would, for example, mean that new services are created, whereby assembly system modules are leased to users through a network of depots, rather than bought at a high cost. The system modules also have a far longer lifespan, implying very good ecological solutions.Originality/valueThe highly original paper describes what is probably one of the very first projects to show that distributed con...
PurposeThis roadmap is primarily concerned with the adaptive assembly technology situation in Europe, a topic of particular interest as assembly is often the final process within manufacturing operations. Being the final set of operations on the product, and being traditionally labour‐intensive, assembly has been considerably affected by globalisation. Therefore, unlike most technology roadmaps, this report will not focus solely on particular technologies, but will strive to form a broader perspective on the conditions that may come to influence the opportunities, including political aspects and scientific paradigms. The purpose of this paper is to convey a complete view of the global mechanisms that may come to affect technological breakthroughs, and also present strategies that may better prepare for such a forecast.Design/methodology/approachThe paper describes a technological roadmap.FindingsThis paper provides a complete overview of all aspects that may come to affect assembly in Europe within the next 20 years.Originality/valueThe paper gives an original Evolvable Ultra Precision Assembly Systems FP6 project result which will be of general interest for strategic R&D.
Biological collective systems have been an important source of inspiration for the design of production systems, due to their intrinsic characteristics. In this sense, several high level engineering design principles have been distilled and proposed on a wide number of reference system architectures for production systems. However, the application of bio-inspired concepts is often lost due to design and implementation choices or are simply used as heuristic approaches that solve specific hard optimization problems. This paper proposes a bio-inspired reference architecture for production systems, focused on highly dynamic environments, denominated BIO-inspired Self-Organising Architecture for Manufacturing (BIOSOARM). BIOSOARM aims to strictly adhere to bio-inspired principles. For this purpose, both shopfloor components and product parts are individualized and extended into the virtual environment as fully decoupled autonomous entities, where they interact and cooperate towards the emergence of a self-organising behaviour that leads to the emergence of the necessary production flows. BIOSOARM therefore introduces a fundamentally novel approach to production that decouples the system’s operation from eventual changes, uncertainty or even critical failures, while simultaneously ensures the performance levels and simplifies the deployment and reconfiguration procedures. BIOSOARM was tested into both flow-line and “job shop”-like scenarios to prove its applicability, robustness and performance, both under normal and highly dynamic conditions
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