This article focuses on the problems of analysing automation of material handling systems in order to develop an efficient automated solution that is specifically tailored to the individual company. The research has resulted in development of new methods for evaluating factory automation from design to implementation. The goals of the research has been to analyse and evaluate automation in order to obtain an advantageous combination of human and automated resources. The idea is to asses different solutions in a virtual environment, where experiments and analyses can be performed so that the company can justify investments in automation.
The result of the research is a methodology for better selection of an Automated Material Handling (АМН) solution during production system development in an integrated development environment. The methodology is based on a framework yielding decision support by providing a set of guidelines and a method for their application with computer aided information processing tools. The framework is named the "АМН Preference GuideLine". The research has been carried out in close co-operation with Danish and European industry, where implementations of automation can be referred to. It is our conclusion that many implementations have failed because of non-existing or poor methods to evaluate the consequences of automation. We hope this research can contribute to better solutions of automation in the future.