Today's Industrial manufacturing environments are increasingly characterized by high product mix, high product diversity, the need for rapid response times in transitioning from one product build to another, and the ability to rapidly adapt to new and emerging designs. This requires not only flexible automation, but automation with a reasonable measure of autonomy and the ability to make intelligent decisions. The solution is a flexible automation system with Edge Intelligence - the FlexiMon.
FlexiMon is the flexible production system designed to address such production challenges as those posed by these new demands in production. It has six underlying principles which help guide its design and concept of operations: modularization, identification/virtualization, integration, digitalization, miniaturization, and customization.
This means a system that is comprised of separable, reconnectable, reconfigurable elements that have standardized interfaces for mechanical connections, electrical and power connections, and data and information connections.
Identification goes beyond just labelling and encompasses the "cyber" aspects of cyber-physical objects, i.e. virtualization. Virtualization is not just the virtualization of a physical object through the formation of an administrative shell, but also encompasses the virtualization of production processes and supply chains. Virtualization includes the creation of a digital model of physical objects as well as all associated metadata.
Integration refers both to horizontal and vertical integration. Horizontal integration is machine to machine, factory to factory, etc. vertical integration spans the range from sensors to machine to processes to ERP systems to global supply chains and networks.
This could be viewed as being related to virtualization, but in a more comprehensive and all-encompassing sense of the widespread and ubiquitous use of digital and IT technologies at all levels right down to the machine and manufacturing process level.
This does not necessarily have to be limited to micro and nano scale miniaturization, but more generally refers to doing more in a smaller footprint, or higher power density, or with high information density. So miniaturization more generally is maximizing function and utility within a minimum achievable size or form factor.
Customization on the product end manifests itself through mass customization, such as lot size 1, etc. Customization embodies the concept of high complexity and this drives the design of manufacturing systems capable of delivering mass customized products.