Flexible Manufacturing Line

The flexible production line is a production line consisting of a number of adjustable machine tools (mostly dedicated machine tools) combined with automatic transport devices.

Flexible Manufacturing Line

It relies on computer management and combines multiple production models to reduce production costs and make the best use of it.


With the development of science and technology, human society has higher and higher requirements for the function and quality of products, the cycle of product renewal is becoming shorter and shorter, and the complexity of products is also increasing.

Traditional mass production methods are challenged. .

This kind of challenge not only poses a threat to SMEs, but also plagues state-owned large and medium-sized enterprises.

Because, in the mass production mode, flexibility and productivity are contradictory.

As we all know, only a single species, large batch, equipment-specific, process stability, high efficiency, can constitute economies of scale.

On the contrary, multi-variety, small batch production, equipment specificity is low.

In the case of similar processing forms, frequent adjustment of the fixture, the process stability is difficult, and production efficiency is bound to be affected.

In order to simultaneously improve the flexibility and production efficiency of the manufacturing industry, under the premise of ensuring product quality, shorten the product production cycle, reduce product costs, and finally enable small and medium-sized batch production to compete with mass production, flexible automation systems have emerged.

Since the birth of the first digitally controlled milling machine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954, flexible automation has entered the practical phase of production in the early 1970s.

For decades, from the application of a single CNC machine tool to the machining center, flexible manufacturing unit, flexible production line and computer integrated manufacturing system, flexible automation has been rapidly developed.


In terms of flexible production lines for machinery manufacturing, the basic components are:

Automatic processing system

Automatic processing system refers to the processing of parts with the same dimensions (the shapes do not have to be exactly the same), the weights are similar, the materials are the same, and the similar processes are concentrated on one or several CNC machine tools or special machine tools system.

Logistics system

The logistics system refers to a system consisting of a variety of transportation devices, such as a conveyor belt, a track-turntable, and a robot, to complete the supply and transmission of workpieces, tools, etc., which is a major component of a flexible production line.

Information system

Information system refers to a system that collects, processes, and feedbacks various information required during processing and transportation, and implements hierarchical control of machine tools or transportation equipment through electronic computers or other control devices (hydraulic, pneumatic devices, etc.).

Software system

Software systems are an integral part of ensuring efficient management of flexible production lines with electronic computers.

It includes software for design, planning, production control, and system supervision.

The flexible production line is suitable for small and medium batch production with an annual output of between 1000 and 100,000 pieces.


Flexible production line is a technically complex and highly automated system.

It combines technologies such as microelectronics, computer and systems engineering to ideally and satisfactorily solve the contradiction between high automation and high flexibility of mechanical manufacturing.

The specific advantages are as follows.

  1. High equipment utilization

After a group of machine tools are programmed into a flexible production line, the output is several times higher than that of this group of machine tools when dispersing a single machine.

  1. The number of products in process is reduced by about 80%.
  2. The production capacity is relatively stable

The automatic machining system consists of one or more machine tools.

In the event of a fault, there is the ability to downgrade, and the material handling system also has the ability to bypass the faulty machine.

  1. High product quality

During the processing of the parts, the loading and unloading is completed once, the machining precision is high, and the processing form is stable.

  1. Flexible operation

Inspection, loading and maintenance of some flexible production lines can be completed in the first shift, and the second and third shifts can be produced normally without being looked after.

In an ideal flexible production line, the monitoring system can also handle unpredictable problems such as wear and tear of the tool, blockage of the flow, etc.

  1. The product has a large capacity

The tool, fixture and material transport device are adjustable, and the system layout is reasonable, which is convenient for adding and subtracting equipment to meet market needs.

Development trend

There are two broad trends in the development of flexible production lines:

On the one hand, it is combined with computer aided design and auxiliary manufacturing systems.

Using the typical process data of the original product series, the different modules are combined to form various modular flexible systems with material flow and information flow.

On the other hand, it is the automation of the entire production process from product decision-making, product design, production to sales, especially the computer-integrated manufacturing system that manages the level of automation.

In this large system, the flexible production line is only one component of it.

Type of flexible production line

Divided by size:

Product production line and parts production line.

Divided by rhythm:

Production line and non-flow production line.

Divided by automation levels:

Automated production lines and non-automated production lines.

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