Whenever a company anticipates improving their level of automation by the capital purchase of equipment to be incorporated into a flexible manufacturing environment, this necessitates a considerable expenditure. In order to ensure that such machine tools and peripheral devices are not only of the correct specification, but are logistically situated within the manufacturing facilities, then a feasibility study must be undertaken.
In the past, many company's justifications for the purchase of capital manufacturing equipment have simply paid "lip-service" to the real problems that are encountered whenever a highly automated plant is situated on the shop floor. This' has often resulted in at best, poor utilisation rates for such equipment and disenchantment by management for flexible manufacturing philosophies, despite their obvious benefits to the company.
If a thorough and rigorous feasibility study is initiated, entailing not only machine tool and peripheral equipment specifications but also allied to simulation and logistics, then there is every expectation that examination of the new flexible manufacturing installation's costs and functions will lead to real benefits to the company upon completion.