Innovative configurable and collaborative approach to automation systems engineering for automotive powertrain assembly

2014-07-10T13:31:44Z (GMT) by Izhar Ul Haq
Presently the automotive industry is facing enormous pressure due to global competition and ever changing legislative, economic and customer demands. Both, agility and reconfiguration are widely recognised as important attributes for manufacturing systems to satisfy the needs of competitive global markets. To facilitate and accommodate unforeseen business changes within the automotive industry, a new proactive methodology is urgently required for the design, build, assembly and reconfiguration of automation systems. There is also need for the promotion of new technologies and engineering methods to enable true engineering concurrency between product and process development. Virtual construction and testing of new automation systems prior to build is now identified as a crucial requirement to enable system verification and to allow the investigation of design alternatives prior to building and testing physical systems. The main focus of this research was to design and develop reconfigurable assembly systems within the powertrain sector of the automotive industry by capturing and modelling relevant business and engineering processes. This research has proposed and developed a more process-efficient and robust automation system design, build and implementation approach via new engineering services and a standard library of reusable mechanisms. Existing research at Loughborough had created the basic technology for a component based approach to automation. However, no research had been previously undertaken on the application of this approach in a user engineering and business context. The objective of this research was therefore to utilise this prototype method and associated engineering tools and to devise novel business and engineering processes to enable the component-based approach to be applied in industry. This new approach has been named Configurable and Collaborative Automation Systems (CO AS). In particular this new research has studied the implications of migration to a COAS approach in terms of I) necessary changes to the end-users business processes, 2) potential to improve the robustness of the resultant system and 3) potential for improved efficiency and greater collaboration across the supply chain... cont'd