A Systems Engineering Approach to the Design of Manufacturing Systems
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Rising competitiveness in the 21st century and the increasing complexity of manufacturing systems demand the refinement of manufacturing system design practices by investing more effort during the planning and design phase. This PhD research investigates the current state of the art of manufacturing systems design by a thorough literature review and the analysis of conventional manufacturing system design methods. Those methods are found to be incomplete when compared to essential systems engineering activities. A survey of Norwegian manufacturing companies reflects that the application of systems engineering is still undeveloped in some industries, but the potential benefits are perceived to be substantial. Challenges for manufacturing enterprises are to move toward a more systematic and cooperative-driven environment to address demands imposed by rising costs, product quality, and the ability to innovate. Meeting the challenges, a framework is proposed rooted in essential systems engineering techniques that enhance the recently proposed W-model approach with a more front-end focus. The AMod framework is introduced and explained as a development lifecycle approach for manufacturing systems engineering to support information sharing with stakeholders, to facilitate reasoning about system requirements, and to facilitate decision-making. A nine months case study investigated how one company approached the design of manufacturing systems. Comparing the company’s problem solving strategy with the steps of AMod demonstrated a significant saving in time and costs. The case study illustrates that the AMod framework can enable right-first-time practices at both the continuous improvement level as well as the initial design of manufacturing systems.