Introduction to the flow shop systemΒΆ

The complete didactic training system in the laboratory may be viewed as a flow shop system that consists of four workstations, each of which performs a distinct task in the production process. The transport function, which usually interconnects the separate workstations is left out, to enable our students to work on each of the four workstations in isolation.

The production process seems to be very simple: drill a hole of a specific depth in a cylindrically shaped product of a certain height and a specific material, and do this as fast as you can. Of course there is more to it than that, but basically this is it. You will discover however, that realizing this function is not as easy at it may seem.

At the input station, semi-finished products enter the system. They are manually stored in a storage tube and subsequently removed one by one from the storage by a manipulator, and transported to the next station. Once arrived at the test station the product’s material type and thickness are determined. Requested products with the correct thickness are allowed to go through to the next station, all the others must be rejected here. The third station performs the actual processing, hence the name process station. It receives the product, drills a hole of a specific depth in it, and after that, checks the depth for correctness. Finally, the finished product is removed to continue its way to the final station in the flow shop: the storage station. The storage station is equipped with a manipulator which moves the incoming product to a predefined location in the storage area. The storage area has three storage tubes in which finished products may be stored in several different ways. For instance, they can be stored by color (each tube holds products of one color), or by order (a tube holds the products for one production order). This of course depends on the way the production control system is implemented: storage-based production or order-based production.