Integrative technology chain design for small scale manufacturers
The global manufacturing industry has changed over the years. Individual customer requirements result in multi-variant products characterized by small lot sizes. Up to now, the manufacturing industry has not found an adequate solution for producing small lot sizes in an economic way. Due to this fact, the industry could not adapt the methods defined by Taylor, Ford or even Toyota which are commonly named by industrialization. Although the tool machine industry provides flexible machine centers, this is just a small step towards an industrialized small scale manufacturing. Furthermore the manufacturing industry is facing an increasing international competition due to globalized markets. This leads to an increasing cost pressure. Small scale manufacturers have to transform their workshops into industrialized production facilities characterized by standardized production flows as well as balanced production lines. This paper introduces a multiple-criteria approach for the development of standardized technology chains as a prerequisite for standard production lines and flows for small scale manufacturers using a high number of different manufacturing technologies and consequently characterized by low production flow standardization. Based on a comprehensive, structured workpiece analysis an integrated technology-oriented method was developed for the design of standard technology chains as a prerequisite for standardized production flows. The method was already applied in the industry and has shown a significant increase of production efficiency in terms of lead time and overall product costs.