Fabricated Metal based Products & Manufacturing Processes:

In today’s world of smart products and intelligent manufacturing technologies, metal plays an important role to build a sustainable product. From home appliances, office furniture to fixtures and automotive applications, metal is an essential element to design and manufacture engineering products.

Few of the most popular metal manufacturing processes are casting, forging, stamping, machining, forming, joining, metal finishing etc. Fabricated metal product manufacturing process involves cutting, drilling, folding and welding of the metal to form a desired shaped product.

Selection of metal material to manufacture the product depends upon the product’s functional and aesthetic requirements. Fabricated metals used in product making are sectional metals, expanded metal and flat metals. The metal manufacturing industry has seen growth in jobs and technology over the past several years. The estimated US fabricated metal product manufacturing industry is about 338 billion dollars in combined annual revenue.

The flat metal are consists of leaf metal, which is a thin material (also known as foil metal), sheet metal, which is most popular with a thickness of .25 inches and lesser, and plate metal, which is a thicker material and usually more than .25 inches.

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS):

Time to market is an important aspect in the current competitive business environment. The manufacturing environment in recent years is continuously improving due to new technologies viz. Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Big Data Analytics and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The fourth industrial revolution is starting to change the way products are manufactured.

A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) is a method for producing goods that is readily adaptable to changes in the product being manufactured, in both type and quantity.

The typical flexible manufacturing system (FMS) comprises of three main subsystems. First, work machines that are often automated CNC machines. Second, material handling system that optimize the workflow, and third, central control computer that controls material movements and machine flow. Flexible manufacturing system is effective system for interchangeable parts and customized ordering through a make-to-order production process.

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) can integrate manufacturing operations such as shearing, and bending together to produce complicated parts, which are very difficult to produce through conventional manufacturing methods. The main advantage of an FMS is its high flexibility in managing manufacturing resources like time and effort in order to manufacture a new product. A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) provides manufacturing companies an advantage to quickly change a manufacturing environment to improve process efficiency and thus lower the production cost.

An Industrial FMS consists of robots, computer-controlled machines, computer numerical-controlled machines (CNC), instrumentation devices, computers, sensors, and other stand-alone systems such as inspection machines. An FMS can include a configuration of processing workstations interconnected with computer terminals that process the end-to-end manufacturing of a product, from loading/ unloading functions to machining and assembly to storing, quality testing, and data processing. The system can be programmed to run a batch of one set of products in a particular quantity and then automatically switch over to another set of products in another quantity.

The Pros and Cons of a Flexible Manufacturing System:

The main advantage of Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is reduced manufacturing cost. The enhancement of production efficiency, whereby downtime is reduced because the need to shut down the production line to set up for a different product is eliminated. Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) implementation results into lower cost per unit, better time to market, improved quality, better communication with advance CAD/CAM systems.

Major disadvantage of Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is its higher upfront cost. Another possible drawback of Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is the higher cost associated with the need for specialized labor to run, monitor and maintain the FMS.

Conclusion:

Even though upfront cost is higher, Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is the future of Metal manufacturing, which will help, manufactures to meet time to market, to produce “make to order” products as per customer specifications. FMS can be helpful for a mass production of single item. Additionally, changeover from one type of part to another is easier due to the flexibility offered by FMS.