🧑🏭 Industry 4.0 Technology and Manual Assembly
Digital work instructions, cobots, radio frequency identification (RFID), augmented reality (AR) and other Industry 4.0 technologies can help. These technologies are designed to provide cognitive and physical support to people on the assembly line. But, they’re not appropriate for every situation. How can engineers decide when such technologies are a worthwhile investment? We decided to come up with a methodology to help.
To evaluate various options, we propose the PROMETHEE method (preference ranking organization method for enrichment evaluation). Based on mathematics and sociology, the PROMETHEE method was invented in the 1980s. It has particular application in decision-making, and is used around the world in various decision scenarios in fields such as business, government, transportation, healthcare and education. Rather than pointing out a “right” decision, the PROMETHEE method helps decision-makers find the alternative that best suits their goals and understanding of the problem. It provides a comprehensive and rational framework for structuring a decision problem, identifying and quantifying its conflicts and synergies, and highlighting the main alternatives.
How to Balance Assembly Lines
“Line balancing connects the amount of labor to the production rate of demand in a precise manner via standardized work,” explains Smalley. “Supervisors at Toyota, for example, have to work with team leaders and team members to adjust manpower based upon calculations involving takt time and standardized work charts. This avoids not having enough operators on the production line when demand increases or excess labor on the line when demand decreases.”
“Line balancing is important, because it helps to achieve the lean goal of continuous flow,” explains Miller. “Imagine walking into a factory with an assembly line that’s supposed to manufacture a certain number of jobs in an hour. If the line is poorly balanced, some stations may become overwhelmed with work while others have idle time, leading to bottlenecks and delays. This can cause a build-up of WIP at one station, while another station may run out of parts or materials to work on.