Distributed manufacturing network models of smart and agile mini-factories
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Traditional centralised manufacturing systems will be replaced in future more and more through decentralised and geographically dispersed manufacturing strategies. So-called distributed manufacturing systems represent an ideal approach to meet challenges regarding individualisation of products, customer proximity or more sustainable production. Networks of smart and agile micro-production units lead to a rationalisation of the supply chain and therefore to an increase of sustainability. In this paper, the actual state of the art in distributed manufacturing is presented. Afterwards, sustainability oriented reasons for a trend towards distributed manufacturing networks are explained. Then, evolutionary stages in the development of factories are represented describing their characteristics at every stage. Finally, a framework of possible network models for distributed manufacturing networks of smart and agile mini-factories is provided and enforced by examples from industrial practice. The paper closes with a discussion of the proposed framework and an outlook on future needs in research.