What do you know about adaptive manufacturing?

Is adaptive always the answer?

B&R makes a compelling case that adaptivity is the answer to today's biggest manufacturing challenges. Is an adaptive manufacturing solution always the right choice?

Wlady Martino: No, that's not quite true. If you're optimized for pumping out large quantities of identical items day after day, then you've got little to gain from adaptability. But, as you start producing more and more batches on the same line, you reach a threshold where the investment in an adaptive solution starts to really pay off in terms of time saved on changeover and cleaning, and in terms of personnel and training.

So there's a threshold?

Martino: Yes, and there's even another threshold – where an adaptive solution becomes not just beneficial, but essential. If you've got customers personalizing their items on e-commerce platforms. If you want to catch the wave of new trends and get new products to market while demand is hot. If you want to do more than just switch from batch to batch, and actually run mixed batches simultaneously on the same line. In these cases, there's no question: adaptive manufacturing is always the right choice.

  • In these cases, there's no question:
  • Handle e-commerce personalization
  • Catch the wave of new trends
  • Run mixed batches simultaneously

Is adaptive just another word for flexible?

How is adaptive manufacturing different from flexible manufacturing?

Historically, manufacturing has been all about productivity – about efficiency and economies of scale. But if you look at the demands of today's consumers and markets, flexibility is taking over as the driving factor for more and more manufacturers. We first started hearing about flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) maybe 10-15 years ago. These are systems built to handle multiple products on the same line. But: those products must be known in advance and their requirements must be designed into the process.

Adaptive manufacturing takes flexibility into an entirely new dimension. Switching batches becomes not just possible, but effortless – even instantaneous. With full control over individual products, you could change formats every cycle if you wanted. Adaptive manufacturing opens the door to handling unforeseen future products and running multiple SKUs (stock keeping units) in the same batch.

Flexibility is something you can generally achieve with servo controls alone. Adaptivity, on the other hand, includes a whole new set of capabilities that only emerge when you incorporate key enabling technologies like mechatronic transport, robotics, machine vision and simulation. Flexibility gives you freedom within certain boundaries, but with adaptive manufacturing, those boundaries no longer exist. And because of that, it challenges us to open our minds to new ways of thinking about how products are made, assembled and packaged.

We've talked about flexibility – what about availability, performance and quality?

How does adaptive manufacturing impact OEE?

Manufacturers are increasing their OEE scores by 50% or more with adaptive manufacturing. That's because adaptive solutions impact all three OEE factors: availability, performance and quality. By drastically reducing changeover times, they leave more availability for productive operation. By enabling parallelization of slower processing stations, they multiply performance with minimal added footprint. With electromagnetic diverters and high-performance machine vision, they improve quality by identifying and eliminating waste early and at full speed.

  • Availability
  • Little to no downtime for changeover
  • Individual control for fault tolerance
  • Automatically skip malfunctioning stations
  • Performance
  • Non-stop productivity: On-track and in-motion
  • Processing density: No wasted conveyance or handling
  • Parallel processing: Multiply performance, not footprint
  • Quality
  • Tighter synchronization for tighter tolerances
  • In-line quality control and early defect removal
  • Robust fault tolerance for reduced waste production

One B&R customer in the field of medical device assembly managed to reduce the footprint of their machine while at the same time achieving a double-digit boost in productivity. In the end, they didn't need a costly new cleanroom after all.

Here's how:

Wlady Martino

Global Segment Manager - Packaging

Flexibility enables you to manage multiple products on the same line. But with adaptive manufacturing, you can even handle new and unknown products – and really future-proof your investments.
Let's talk about what it means to #ThinkAdaptive

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