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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Atanu Chaudhuri

Cohen, Y., Naseraldin, H., Chaudhuri, A. & Pilati, F. (2019). Assembly systems in Industry 4.0 era: a road map to understand Assembly 4.0. International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology

Author(s) from Durham


The 4th industrial revolution (Industry 4.0, I4.0) is based upon the penetration of many new technologies to the industrial world. These technologies are posed to fundamentally change assembly lines around the world. Assembly systems transformed by I4.0 technology integration are referred to here as Assembly 4.0 (A4.0). While most I4.0 new technologies are known, and their integration into shop floors is ongoing or imminent, there is a gap between this knowledge and understanding the form and the impact of their full implementation in assembly systems. The path from the new technological abilities to improved productivity and profitability has not been well understood and has some missing parts. This paper strives to close a significant part of this gap by creating a road map to understand and explore the impact of typical I4.0 new technologies on A4.0 systems. In particular, the paper explores three impact levels: strategic, tactical, and operational. On the strategic level, we explore aspects related to the design of the product, process, and the assembly system. Additionally, the paper elaborates on likely changes in assembly design aspects, due to the flexibility and capabilities that these new technologies will bring. Strategic design also deals with planning and realizing the potential of interactions between sub-assembly lines, kitting lines, and the main assembly lines. On the tactical level, we explore the impact of policies and methodologies in planning assembly lines. Finally, on the operational level, we explore how these new capabilities may affect part routing and scheduling including cases of disruptions and machine failures. We qualitatively assess the impact on performance in terms of overall flow time and ability to handle a wide variety of end products. We point out the cases where clear performance improvement is expected due to the integration of the new technologies. We conclude by identifying research opportunities and challenges for advanced assembly systems.