One of the main problems facing potential users of flexible assembly systems is deciding which types of equipment to use. Unlike dedicated assembly where the requirement is well defined and the different types of equipment available are limited, in flexible assembly, the choice is wide; the consequence is that invariably systems are designed to meet the requirements of a particular application. Whilst this is acceptable if the application has a long life and the utilisation is high, for a truly flexible system which can assemble a wide variety of different products, this is not acceptable.
It is suggested by the authors that within an extensive product profile which embraces a significant proportion of assembly activities, it should be possible to design a flexible assembly system which is capable of dealing effectively with products within the profile.
The paper examines the factors which affect the various elements of a flexible assembly system and indicates what is required to meet the chosen specification.