Researchers from Mechanical Engineering have
begun formal research into advanced manufacturing
systems and technologies.

Researchers from Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering have begun formal research into Advanced Manufacturing Systems and technologies after receiving a R4 million National Research Foundation Blue Sky Research Grant under the supervision of Professor Glen Bright.

The research team includes Dr Anthony Walker, Mr Jared Padayachee, Mr Shaniel Davrajh and Mr Louwrens Butler.

The motivation for the research is that modern manufacturing processes do not automatically respond to customer demands in product variation and manufacturing technologies do not allow for rapid fabrication of automated production machines.

Research will address the fundamental problem that current manufacturers are not able to supply customers with unique products at reasonable prices in an acceptable time frame. The study will provide advanced manufacturing technology solutions for manufacturers to respond rapidly by automatic adaptation of the production system, through reconfiguration of manufacturing functions to provide economical customisation in part manufacturing and assembly. 

Primary research during the project aims to develop advanced materials handling technologies – in the form of intelligent and reconfigurable jigs and fixtures – which will provide crucial flexibility and responsiveness in facilitating customer-driven variations in product demand and type. In addition, advanced part and jig tracking technologies, advanced quality control functions, computational intelligence applications and various models to describe the performance of manufacturing systems operation will be established under an intelligent jig and fixture based production paradigm.

The research will also investigate and advance supply chain theory and implementation, as multiple external supply chains will be required to supply materials and components for parts as well as components for jig and fixture fabrication. 

The research team envisages that the outputs of the study will promote and establish a customer driven manufacturing paradigm within Factories of the Future, thus providing consumers with greater purchasing freedom and choice as well as advancing the field of production system design and implementation.