All automaker factories are going to robotics, some say that Japan is leading the field in these endeavors, of course most all of the technology started here in the States. With American Automakers hurting and Delphi filing bankruptcy, some of these robotic auto plants will go dark for a while and probably lay off some Union Workers, which can save the companies millions is health care costs and problems associated with over production and the need to discount or over extend credit to consumers, which would have a whole other problem.
Large auto factory plants like the German auto maker Daimler Chrysler often go dark to work on equipment, upgrade computers, install new components along the assembly lines and general maintenance. These 2-4 week shut downs are necessary as IT personal re-figure glitches, assign net-centric IP addresses for each component, as the robotic professional fine tune the systems. Some of these robotic factories have over 2500-4500 devices all working together on the assembly lines. So now these system talk to themselves and self-assigns the IP addresses thru the routers, which add an additional level of security and of course complexity as well. Everything must be perfect as the show MUST go on at Chrysler. Remember the efficiency of robotics only work when all the robotics are working perfectly. An on looker of such a factory in progress cannot imagine the problematic situations of bottlenecks, or the complexity in the Finite Capacity Scheduling models, nor could have Friedrich "Winslow" Taylor envisioned how perfect or efficient his modern day factory would become.
To help one better understand how robotic manufacturing works at Daimler Chrysler look at the assembly line factory robotics as a car wash. You see you are familiar with carwashes and this is similar to that of manufacturing models? Bottlenecks slow production; moving the finished cars out of the way is a key, long lines hurt business. Have you ever seen the long line at the car wash and driven by instead of stopping? You are not alone, as people drive off without stopping for a wash.
Manufacturing processes seem to be in the innate thought processes of all business people, wanting to become the most efficient they can be. Daimler Chrysler knows this and is working hard to make it happen. Right now automakers face some financial challenges, but this may be an opportunity for them to upgrade their factories to become even more efficient. You see, the future in manufacturing is completely robotic, humans are quite inefficient compared to robots, who do not complain, require healthcare costs, or join unions to sue you. The Human Factor has caused the problem for the Automakers, due to run away costs in labor and although humans are "mostly harmless," as they say; they are rapidly being replaced by efficient robotic computerized systems around the world. Daimler Chrysler is one of the companies leading the pack in Robotic Factories. Think on this.
"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/. Lance is a guest writer for Our Spokane Magazine in Spokane, Washington