Adaptable factory development

How can we prepare factories to adapt to major changes without having to spend excessive amounts of time or money? What does a flexible factory or an adaptable factory look like? Which degree of changeability should one afford?

Flexibility in this sense means the ability of a factory to react promptly to fluctuations in production volumes and the product spectrum. The term changeability, on the other hand, also involves a change in the structure of the factory system, which causes a shift in the complete flexibility margin. As a supplement to the VDI Guideline 5200 on factory planning, Fraunhofer IPA has developed a practical procedure for planning adaptable factories:

  • Definition of objectives to take relevant change drivers into consideration
  • By conducting a specific and extended analysis of the value stream, both production processes and the factory building are assessed on their aptitude for change in four categories.
  • In the ideal plan, a modular factory concept is developed as a solution approach.
  • Adaptability is then evaluated in transformation scenarios.

At the end of the project, reliable information is provided about the degree of adaptability needed based on the product spectrum, anticipated change drivers and cost structure. Individual decisions concerning technologies and enterprise resources can only be properly assessed in the overall context.