Space-saving assembly of XXL products thanks to dynamic layouts

Figure 1: Large-scale products like aircraft have high area requirements already during the assembly phase. (Photo: alhim - Fotalia.com)

IPH | Whether aircraft, ships or construction machines: The assembly of so-called XXL products requires a lot of space. Researchers at IPH are currently developing a method which enables companies to find an ideal layout. By this means, they can save space and increase their productivity.

The assembly of large-scale products is usually organized based on the job-site principle. In order to have sufficient space for every assembly step, companies reserve a defined area in the factory that corresponds to the maximum expansion of the product (see Figure 2). However, the real area requirement varies with the progress of assembly: On the one hand, the product itself increases gradually, on the other hand, storage and machine areas are constantly needed.

Intelligent, dynamic layouts would save a lot of space: Companies would only have to reserve as much space for every product as needed at the very moment. In practice, planning is very difficult, since there is a large variety of optional layouts.

Presently, researchers at the Institut für Integrierte Produktion Hannover (IPH) are developing a method which enables automated layout of assembly objects at a minimum of space. A programme depicts the facility layout in a grid pattern (see Figure 3). A mathematical optimization model calculates where and when to place which product in the facility. 

by Michael Zenker

Image gallery for this article

  • Figure 1: Large-scale products like aircraft have high area requirements already during the assembly phase. (Photo: alhim - Fotalia.com)
  • Figure 2: The area requirement of XXL products increases with the progress of assembly. (Graphic: Michael Zenker, IPH)
  • Figure 3: Factory layout and products are depicted by a programme in grid patterns (Graphic: Michael Zenker, IPH)