Smart control of the assembly process with a fuzzy control system in the context of Industry 4.0

Jiage Huo, Tung Sun Chan (Corresponding Author), Ka Man Lee, Jan Ola Strandhagen, Ben Niu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Assembly line balancing is important for the efficiency of the assembly process, however, a wide range of disruptions can break the current workload balance. Some researchers explored the task assignment plan for the assembly line balancing problem with the assumption that the assembly process is smooth with no disruption. Other researchers considered the impacts of disruptions, but they only explored the task re-assignment solutions for the assembly line re-balancing problem with the assumption that the re-balancing decision has been made already. There is limited literature exploring on-line adjustment solutions (layout adjustment and production rate adjustment) for an assembly line in a dynamic environment. This is because real-time monitoring of an assembly process was impossible in the past, and it is difficult to incorporate uncertainty factors into the balancing process because of the randomness and non-linearity of these factors. However, Industry 4.0 breaks the information barriers between different parts of an assembly line, since smart, connected products, which are enabled by advanced information and communication technology, can intelligently interact and communicate with each other and collect, process and produce information. Smart control of an assembly line becomes possible with the large amounts of real-time production data in the era of Industry 4.0, but there is little literature considering this new context. In this study, a fuzzy control system is developed to analyze the real-time information of an assembly line, with two types of fuzzy controllers in the fuzzy system. Type 1 fuzzy controller is used to determine whether the assembly line should be re-balanced to satisfy the demand, and type 2 fuzzy controller is used to adjust the production rate of each workstation in time to eliminate blockage and starvation, and increase the utilization of machines. Compared with three assembly lines without the proposed fuzzy control system, the assembly line with the fuzzy control system performs better, in terms of blockage ratio, starvation ratio and buffer level. Additionally, with the improvement of information transparency, the performance of an assembly line will be better. The research findings shed light on the smart control of the assembly process, and provide insights into the impacts of Industry 4.0 on assembly line balancing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101031
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAdvanced Engineering Informatics
Volume43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2020

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