Benefits of using automation in high-mix, low-volume manufacturing
High-mix, low-volume (HMLV) manufacturers can leverage technology to manage their supply chain effectively, save on costs and deliver products to customers on time.
High-mix, low-volume manufacturing insights
- A high-mix, low-volume (HMLV) manufacturing approach allows manufacturers to cater to individual customer needs and preferences while minimizing inventory costs.
- Manufacturers looking to take full advantage of this are embracing automation solutions.
In recent years, the manufacturing industry has undergone a significant transformation, driven in part by advances in high-mix, low-volume (HMLV) manufacturing. This trend has impacted the entire supply chain operation, from procurement to sales. An HMLV manufacturing approach allows manufacturers to cater to individual customer needs and preferences while minimizing inventory costs. However, it can present challenges to supply chain operations. Each product requires unique components, which can make it difficult to manage inventory and track products throughout the process.
To meet the evolving demands of their customers, HMLV manufacturers are increasingly embracing automation even though conventional fixed automation products can lack flexibility.
Automation suppliers are now addressing this gap in the market with solutions that provide flexibility, modularity, a small physical footprint, and mobility. This is made possible by onboard software intelligence, more lightweight and responsive hardware, and low-code/no-code applications.
A linear transport system, for example, is a flexible conveyance technology that allows manufacturers to handle diverse product combinations and packaging formats on a single line, without requiring any mechanical changeovers.
The transport system comprises configurable motor modules assembled into a continuous track, which can take on various shapes such as circular, rectangular, or complex, curved geometries based on the requirements of the specific application. The movers on the transport system have the ability to operate autonomously, allowing them to accelerate, brake, and adjust their speed independently.
They can also form groups and synchronize with other equipment such as conventional conveyors. Manufacturers can process a larger variety of products without needing to expand their facilities due to the transport system’s configurable track, which conserves floor space and facilitates software-based changeovers.
Cereal bars are a good example of the diverse range of products in the confectionery industry. They are available in numerous flavors and packaging formats such as single-serve portions, variety packs, multi-packs, and family packs, with different numbers of bars in each pouch. The bars themselves can differ in length and width and may require packaging in various box sizes and shapes based on retailers’ needs. To meet these demands, high-speed packaging systems with rapid format changeover capabilities are essential.
Traditionally, supply chains require individual and manual changeovers of movers for each packaging format. However, with a linear transport system, this can be done at the push of a button, resulting in time savings and improved overall machine efficiency.
The trend of HMLV manufacturing has brought about new challenges and opportunities for manufacturers, particularly in managing their supply chains effectively. However, the development of innovative automation solutions can help address these challenges while also providing more customized products and reducing inventory costs.
Linear transport systems allow manufacturers to handle diverse product combinations and packaging formats on a single line, resulting in improved efficiency and time savings. As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve, the adoption of these advanced automation technologies will likely become increasingly essential for manufacturers looking to stay competitive and meet the changing demands of their customers.