Enhancing the reconfigurability of special purpose machine tools using mechanical module interfaces
International OCSCO World Press
School of Engineering
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce a solution that can enhance the reconfigurability of special purpose machines (SPMs). This is because SPMs can be used in different configurations and the reconfiguring time for these machines can be crucial. Therefore, it is important to reduce this time in order to enhance the performance of SPMs. Design/methodology/approach: A mechanical adapter is proposed as a solution to achieve the purpose of this paper. The design of the adapter is based on Multi Coupling (MC) type, and its functionality is based on “Plug and Produce”. This adapter is used to modify an SPM element called workpiece transfer in order to accommodate two types of chucks without the need to change the workpiece transfer. The performance criteria are analysed and investigated for this adapter. Findings: The proposed solution will enhance the reconfigurability of SPMs. This is because it will reduce the number of elements that are needed for reconfiguration. As a result, the time and cost for the reconfiguration will be reduced considerably. Research limitations/implications: Because SPMs have several types of elements, adapting the proposed solutions to be used for all elements can be a complex process. Therefore, more investigation and analysis need to be carried out in order to build a complete adapter system for SPMs. Practical implications: SPMs are already used widely in manufacturing. However, they are considered relatively expensive compared to the traditional machines tools because they are applied for special applications. The proposed solution will help to overcome this problem and make SPMs applicable for wider applications. Originality/value: The proposed solution is the first attempt in terms of enhancing the performance of SPMs. This can bring considerable benefits to the end users in manufacturing, who are using SPMs, in order to reduce the reconfiguration time and cost for these machine tools.