Dynamic vs dedicated automation systems - a study in large structure assembly

The manufacturing industry needs to increase productivity and flexibility to stay competitive. This requires more adaptable and versatile production capabilities. It is expected that dynamic systems, consisting of mobile robots, will be particularly prominent in manufacturing environments where it is difficult to move components and products in a flexible manner. This paper compares the relative advantages of a dynamic, mobile robot-based system with traditional dedicated automation systems. The study uses simulations to evaluate several representative scenarios with different product supply bottlenecks, interference among mobile robots and mixes of products inspired by the aerospace industry. The results show that mobility enables higher resource utilisation and increased flexibility. This highlights the potential operational advantages mobile robot-based systems would offer and gives clear justification to continue the development of dynamic, self-organising production systems based on mobile robots.