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Is high automation a dead end? Cutbacks in production over-engineering in German industry

: Lay, G.; Schirrmeister, E.

Bernhardt, R. ; International Federation of Automatic Control -IFAC-:
Cost oriented automation (low cost automation 2001) : A proceedings volume from the 6th IFAC Symposium on Cost OrientedAutomation (Low Cost Automation 2001), Berlin, Germany, 8 - 9 October2001
Oxford: Elsevier, 2002
ISBN: 0-08-043907-1
Symposium on Cost Oriented Automation <6, 2001, Berlin>
Fraunhofer ISI ()
production costs; Germany; flexibility; automated production facility; over engineering; maintenance cost; reconfiguration cost; factory automation

Booming revenues for automation technology vendors hide the fact that belief in automation investment in the German goods industry is giving way to sober realism. This conclusion is the result of the latest assessment of a study conducted together with the Fraunhofer Institute of Production Systems at the University of Hanover. According to the assessment of approximately 1000 facilities with highly automated systems, more than a third had already reduced their degree of production automation or plan to do so. The most important reason: the insufficient flexibility of highly automated systems. The combination of losses resulting from conversion, idle time and high technical maintenance costs quickly negated the expected economic benefits. Today, in many locations, highly automated production facilities are making way for systems with significantly lower degrees of automation. Given the presumable difficulty for decision-makers to openly admit having made mistakes, the scope of over-engineering found in industry is indeed remarkable.