Date of Award

8-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Joshua D. Summers, Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Hongseok Choi

Committee Member

Dr. Rodrigo Martinez-Duarte

Abstract

Manufacturing firms are continuously looking forward to improve and optimize their processes to meet the requirements of mass production and product customization. In order to meet these demands, the operations on the assembly line need to be allocated with the right level of automation, such that neither the human nor the machine is underutilized With such an emphasis being put on assembly operations within manufacturing enterprises, there is a need for a systematic procedure that helps in identifying appropriate levels of automation (LoA) within different resolutions, such as at the workstation, and the band scales. Based on a literature review, it was seen that the research done within the area of LoA is not abundant, and the few methodologies that discuss about this aspect have their own benefits and limitations. The main aim of this thesis research is to develop a systematic methodology/approach that can help determine the appropriate at a systems level, by looking at various factors such as production volume, production flow, the no. of variants and other factors. To arrive at this, a set of requirements are defined that can be used to judge the most suitable method from the existing literature. The most suitable method would be a method that satisfies all the requirements and helps in determining the appropriate LoA at workstation and band scales. Two methods: 1) B&D method and 2) Dynamo method partially satisfy most of the requirements and are combined together in order to form a new integrated method that can help in determining the appropriate levels of automation to be applied at workstation and band scales. Both the methods are validated based on 4 individual case studies performed at 2 different manufacturing firms. Based on the results obtained both the methods are useful at the workstation level but fail to determine the appropriate LoA at the band level. The integrated method is then applied to the operations at one of the manufacturing firms, to suggest possible improvements within the levels of automation currently being implemented at the firm.

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