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The design architecture and implementation of an integrated manufacturing system

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Labour cost in Hong Kong has increased substantially in recent years. Consequently there is a rapid shift in demand towards small production batches with a wide range of part varieties and better quality. Hence the local manufacturing industry needs to change from fixed automation to flexible automation to remain competitive. For economic justifications as well as tailoring for the particular requirements of an individual company, implementation of flexible automation by integrating existing equipment, instead of purchasing off-the-shelf systems, would be a viable approach. Recent advances in microcomputers PCs and local area network LAN technology have provided a low-cost solution for computer integrated manufacturing CIM applications. This paper describes the development of a CIM system in the department of IMSE at the University of Hong Kong, supported by the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Government. The project was aimed to retrofit and integrate the existing NC machines and a robot with CADCAM and production control software developed in the department to form a simple CIM system. The manufacturing environment in Hong Kong will be briefly outlined first. The design architecture of the CIM system and the techniques for retrofitting and integrating the NC machines for DNC, data communication and the hardware and software control of the system will then be discussed. The results of this project provide an economical and practicable way for the local manufacturers to use flexible automation by adapting and integrating their existing equipment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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