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Development of an affordable and auto-reconfigurable solution for small box assembly

Wang, Zi; Kendall, Peter; Gumma, Kevin; Smith, Andy; Turner, Alison; Ratchev, Svetan


Research Fellow in Aerospace

Peter Kendall

Kevin Gumma

Andy Smith

Alison Turner

Cripps Professor of Production Engineering & Head of Research Division


The aerospace manufacturing industry has been using dedicated assembly systems with manual processes for decades. Not only is this labour-intensive, it is also extremely wasteful as no reuse is possible at the end of a product life cycle. As automation technologies evolve, a flexible/reconfigurable assembly solution is needed to reduce tooling and manual hours in the process. However, a reconfigurable system is often perceived to be costly compared to a dedicated system. In this paper, an affordable and auto-reconfigurable assembly system is proposed for small box products. The proposed system consists of a jig frame, adjustable interface plates, reconfigurable profile boards and a pick-and-place (PnP) end effector. The jig frame can be robotically configured via a PnP process, in which the profile boards are loaded and unloaded onto the jig frame via the end effector. The process feasibility is proven with business case analyses and lab-based experiments regarding tolerance and process timing requirements. Through the business case analysis, cost-saving benefits can be achieved under realistic production scenarios, including a low-volume case. Process timing and repeatability of the jig configuration were also proven to be within the product and process requirements. The proposed tooling solution with automated robotic reconfiguration can be incorporated as a standard operation in a smart assembly factory.


Wang, Z., Kendall, P., Gumma, K., Smith, A., Turner, A., & Ratchev, S. (2022, June). Development of an affordable and auto-reconfigurable solution for small box assembly. Paper presented at 10th IFAC Conference on Manufacturing Modelling, Management and Control, Nantes, France

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 10th IFAC Conference on Manufacturing Modelling, Management and Control
Conference Location Nantes, France
Start Date Jun 22, 2022
End Date Jun 24, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2022
Keywords Smart manufacturing systems; Design and reconfiguration of manufacturing systems; Robotics in manufacturing; Performance analysis
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