The ARMMS Network has successfully brought together over 30 industrial and research partners to address the issues associated with agile machinery systems and the strategies necessary for manufacturers to respond to the global market requirements.
The ARMMS partners have developed methods and tools and associated case studies which identify appropriate strategies for developing the most effective agility solutions. These are presented in the many deliverables produced by the Network and on the ARMMS website (mech.aston.ac.uk/armms/web/).
The key questions of machinery manufacturers and users have been addressed which include:
-Why is agility necessary?
-How do I assess agility?
-What strategies are available for increasing agility?
-What are the costs and benefits of agility and what level should I aim for?
-How do I implement agility?
2.Modularise/design a modular machine;
3.Design a module/include a module in design;
Several industrial Workshops have been held on these topics to disseminate the results to organizations from manufacturing industry sectors not represented by the partners. These sectors included food processing, pharmaceutical, nuclear industries, building products, shoe making machinery and textile industries.
ARMMS has developed a web site with a public area that gives information on these questions as well as methods and tools that can be downloaded for use. There are also case studies which illustrate their use. A CD ROM is also now available for all partners which includes some content from the web page as well as all the deliverables and presentations.
The work in agility and reconfigurability of machine systems will continue through interaction with MANTYS through connection of the web pages, attendance of partners at public meetings and involvement in the Agility Technology Watch area of MANTYS. There have been a number of expressions of interest for FP6 IP projects in this area and a combined Proposal has been submitted.
The work done in the past 3 years has been substantial and there can be no doubt that all partner organizations have benefited from the experience. The dissemination process through the web site, workshops and project literature will continue to respond to increasing need for organizations to accommodate unpredictable changes whilst maintaining economic and operational efficiency
Continuing market demands for specialist products at "mass production prices" are being met increasingly by agile manufacturing. Agility in manufacturing extends through the supply chain, business management, design, production control, servicing, and product up dating; the ability to address such a wide scenario has been fuelled by the tremendous advancements in computing and information technology. In many industrial sectors, the weakest parts in agility chains are the vital links of manufacturing machinery and handling equipment. Industrial sectors, such as the machine tool sector, have effected considerable improvements by introducing agile responsive machinery based on modular principles. These sectors however do not normally exchange solutions to their problems. This is due to the unavailability of common frameworks and in many instances, a lack of awareness of the commonality of their problems. It is proposed that the time has arrived to consider the agility of manufacturing machinery and handling equipment comprehensively and concurrently across all industrial sectors. Due to the vast amount of relevant advanced technology, which it has generated, and its success in establishing collaborative organisational and technological frameworks, Europe is in a unique position to tackle all industrial sectors simultaneously. The proposed ARMMS Thematic Network will be its first step in this direction. The Network will connect industrial and academic personnel to facilitate the exchange of information and technology appropriate to the advancement of agile manufacturing in Europe. In order to increase benefits from European generated technology in this field the holders of the technology will be encouraged to integrate their contributions (for example, through the integration of software packages) to give a totality, which is greater than the sum of its parts. The advancement of agility in machinery and handling equipment across industrial sectors is a substantial undertaking which, if it is to be successful, must be focused; the ARMMS Thematic Network will direct exchanges of information and technology between partners towards the design and implementation of generic, standardised, reconfigurable modules applicable to wide ranges of machinery and handling equipment across industrial sectors and so ensure focus. These modules will be supported by software and technology packages, data sheets and a design manual. Finally, organisations such as AMTRI, Tekniker, WZL and ISW will explore the concept of eventually establishing an association which would house, up-date and disseminate to European companies the unique technological resource on agility in manufacturing which will have been created and consolidated through the ARMMS network. This office will also be available to advise the EC on on-going activities and future requirements on agile manufacturing.
Funding SchemeTHN - Thematic network contracts
541 87 Skövde
20093 Cologno Monzese
B98 0DN Redditch
LE1 9BH Leicester
B46 1JT Birmingham
LE11 3TU Loughborough
412 50 Göteborg
RG41 2FD Wokingham
SN3 1NP Swindon
581 88 Linköping
OX15 6JB Banbury
100 44 Stockholm
B15 2TT Birmingham
L63 3JW Bebington Wirral - Merseyside
B4 7ET Birmingham