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Mikron Automation agile assembly solutions
Agile manufacturing has evolved from lean manufacturing as a concept that goes beyond eliminating waste and redundancy at every stage of production towards also making the process nimbler and more responsive, enabling it to respond more quickly to market and regulatory changes while still minimizing costs and maximizing quality.
The key enabling factor driving agile assembly and agile product development has been the IT revolution in manufacturing support technology that allows marketers, designers and production lines access to a shared database covering products, parts, specifications and market demands. The overall term for this sharing is Process Integration.
Over more than four decades, Mikron Automation has amassed world-class expertise in Process Integration: the integration of high-speed and highly complex processes into highly automated agile manufacturing schemes that can be rapidly changed to meet shifting needs.
The agile production development concept was first voiced in the 1970s, when Dr. Winston Royce proposed it as a replacement for ‘waterfall’ sequential development in which parts and components are added in sequential step-by-step phases on a production line, with the final product completed in the final stage. The main problem here is that no step can proceed unless the previous ones have been completed. The rise of the computer industry made waterfall development obsolete, since software needs to be developed in a modular way by horizontally integrated teams and processes reacting to constant changes and where the eventual product will be defined by capabilities developed separately. Increasingly these same demands apply to tangible products, in which projects need to be continuously re-assessed and redeveloped throughout their lifecycles.
The key features of agile production development are that it involves various iterations, incremental improvements, compressed development cycles, and acute market responsiveness. These factors demand a highly collaborative and interactive approach with very close co-operation with customers and other stakeholders during the development process. The agile production process also places high priority on prototypes and proof of concept.
Process integration in agile manufacturing
Process integration – the standardization and aggregation of component sub-routines and tasks – is an essential prerequisite for fully automated and rapidly configurable assembly of complex devices.
Mikron’s global vision is based on mastery of the entire operation from the assembly process and the integration of complex processes to the use of a basic range of standardized equipment with assembly automation solutions that are guaranteed for superior performance standards.
Over decades, Mikron has built up a comprehensive PI library database that standardizes and modularizes a huge range of highly complex and specialized assembly, test and automation tasks. These include feeding, handling, filling, dosing, curing and gluing, laser or ultrasonic welding, marking, printing and labelling, along with a range of tests and connectivity controls, along with data capture for line management, statistics, traceability, preventive and predictive maintenance as continuous improvement program.
Optimizing and fully documenting each task through repeated application and proof in operation allows overall assembly solutions to be assured for quality, stability and reliability, easing regulatory compliance.
Design for agile assembly
Mikron mastery of Design for Assembly (DFA) techniques support agile production by helping producers to analyze the assembly processes of devices to refine and optimize the design of components for seamless industrialization.
Mikron works in close partnership with the manufacturer to design and create the most effective automation solution for each product.
Mikron Automation provides Proof of Principle (PoP) capabilities that allow testing and documenting of critical processes based on the final production requirements. This is a key prerequisite for minimizing assembly risks and scaling up to high volume production.
The Mikron mechanical modular concept with its manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic cells coupled with an adaptive software make it possible to tailor the production process continuously to market changes, allowing staged investment as needed, based on product volume requirements and actual consumer demands.
These advantages help to explain why Mikron systems are currently used to assembly some 150 million parts each day worldwide. Mikron has installed several thousand of its assembly and testing systems around the globe, enabling multi-shift, high-output, precision production seven days a week.