School of Engineering
Special purpose machine tools (SPMs) are primarily used for performing drilling-related operations and are widely used in mass production including automotive component manufacturing. Utilization of SPM is considerably widespread; however, this technology is relatively new and expensive. The important problems facing manufacturing industries wishing to utilize this technology is feasibility analysis to decide whether a SPM can be utilised for production of the given part and if it is feasible which SPM components would be appropriate. Since the cost of utilizing SPM is high, feasibility analysis must be performed before any investment on detailed design. This paper proposes a technical feasibility analysis method which assists in deciding whether SPM is applicable for machining a given part to achieve the highest productivity. The method is based on the framework which consists of relations between the desired part properties to the characteristics of the SPM components. These relations are captured as rules and constraints in an intelligent system which is implemented in Visual Basic. Applying the proposed method to a number of industrial parts shows that it is a very useful tool in deciding when SPMs should be utilized.