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Highly Flexible Final Production Stages: A New Approach for Assembly in the Variant-Rich Series Production

[+] Author Affiliations
Hans-Peter Wiendahl, Volker Grosse-Heitmeyer

University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany

Paper No. IMECE2003-42518, pp. 427-432; 6 pages
  • ASME 2003 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Manufacturing
  • Washington, DC, USA, November 15–21, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Manufacturing Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3720-3 | eISBN: 0-7918-4663-6, 0-7918-4664-4, 0-7918-4665-2
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME


The rapid manufacture of a great range of variant products is gaining importance in global competition. Customers are increasingly demanding products which are matched to their specific requirements. The production of these customized variants gives a competitive advantage, but also leads to higher production costs. Almost every step in the process of making a product is capable of generating variants. A key element in variant management is to make the variants as late as possible in order to exploit economies of scale in the earliest stages of production and to minimize the complexity of production [9], [6]. The technique of the highly flexible final production stage consists in achieving a late emergence of variants by integrating the variant-specific manufacturing processes into the assembly stage. This means abandoning the conventional distinction between manufacture and assembly in favour of a division into a preliminary, variant-neutral production stage and a final production stage where the variants take shape. The final production stage includes all the processes that yield variants. The complete manufacture of variant-neutral parts and subassemblies takes place in the preliminary production stage, as does the prefabrication of those parts and sub-assemblies which are to undergo final manufacture as variants in the final production stage. The result is a procedure capable of producing a broad spectrum of variants economically and with minimal throughput times. This paper describes the philosophy of this new approach and concludes with a practical case study.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME



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