Application of Axiomatic Design principles to control complexity dynamics in a mixed-model assembly system: A case analysis
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The purpose of this paper is to test the validity of Axiomatic Design (AD)-based complexity theory as an explanatory construct and as a methodological guidance for the early detection of need for change in flexible manufacturing systems in order to maintain competitiveness even in turbulent environmental conditions. The AD approach postulates that there are general design principles that govern the behaviour of a system. This proposition is empirically investigated for a flexible mixed-model assembly system by the examination of a long-term study conducted in a medium-sized industrial company. The findings of the long-term study suggest the introduction of a company specific cycle of functional periodicity in combination with a set of functional requirements working together as a regular trigger to detect whether the system range is moving away from the once defined manufacturing system’s design range. The paper extends the research work made in the field of AD by focusing on mechanisms that help to control the effects of time-dependent complexity in manufacturing (re)design. Examples of methods and lead measures are given that can be used by organisations in early detecting and controlling complexity driven efficiency losses in manufacturing systems.