Flexibility, Industry 4.0 and Automation
Mass customization, shorter life cycles and remanufacturing and repurposing of products are all driving the need for efficient flexibility in manufacturing. The flexibility can be the need to manufacture various products in the same manufacturing cell, or that a company with increasing speed must introduce new products to the market, and therefore must ramp up production fast. Also, companies might want to repurpose or remanufacture an end-of-life product, and therefore must handle a large variety of products in the same production system. Also, companies must do this with as little resources in the form of material, labor, energy etc., as possible, both for sustainability reasons but also to stay competitive. Many companies therefore look towards automation and robotics in their processes, and utilize the data created in the production system to make fact-based decisions, preferable in real time, and to use in prognosis or scenario analyses for the future.
The production system, i.e., the technology, the organization, the people, the processes, and IT must work together in all parts to achieve this flexibility. With cheaper sensors, new standards, more computational power and cheaper storage, novel approaches to automation and collaborative applications, integrated software, and hardware landscapes, can together enable the desired flexibility. In my research I focus on the technical systems and processes but with my background and knowledge in robotic automation, manufacturing systems and processes, I also supports projects with colleagues to work with an integrated, holistic approach. I am especially interested in Industry 4.0, automation, and the possibility to use data created in the production system and processes to increase transparency and support decision making. In the next generation manufacturing system, data will be key and will need to be considered in the whole lifecycle of the product and production system.