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7.10 - Machine Systems Integration in Manufacturing


A machine system is an integrated combination of machines, processes, servo-mechanisms (including robots), instrumentation, interfaces, amplifiers, controllers (including PLC’s), materials feeding and removal devices (including robots and AGV’s), drives, power supplies, services and supporting databases for process control, tool management, maintenance and quality diagnostics with relevant networking and interface nodes.

Machine systems integration is the process of ensuring that the individual elements and the machine system itself in the manufacturing context, are properly combined and joined in a coherent whole to achieve the business objectives. It is not necessarily automation – some or all of the elements can be manual.


Before considering integration, there should be careful evaluation of whether there is in fact a need evaluate the manufacturing methods of other projects to create a simpler and more rational process first.

The integration must be approached in a structured and systematic way; piecemeal integration may bring some benefits but it often hinders further exploitation of technology. The whole needs to be designed before the parts.

Machinery Purchase Project Life Cycle

Initial Considerations

  • Relationship of the proposed investment to the strategic plan for the business
  • Resources requirements against key project milestones
  • Financial benefits
  • Risks
  • Involvement of other parties

Analysis and Feasibility

  • Market analysis
  • Manufacturing Systems requirements
  • Financial Analysis
  • Customer Requirements (use QFD)
  • Sensitivity and Risk Analysis
  • Discussion with potential Suppliers

Application and Approval

  • Marketing information
  • Engineering Requirements
  • Manufacturing Requirements
  • Financial Justification
  • Project Plan and Control Method
  • General Information
  • Professional documentation and presentation of the Facts

Specification and Supplier Selection

  • Issue request for information to potential suppliers
  • Receive budget proposals
  • Consider and produce a final specification
  • Standardise the format of the Documentation
  • Received fixed Quotations
  • Select Supplier
  • Agree Terms and conditions of the contract
  • Clear statement of machine capability requirements
  • Agree acceptance criteria

Supplier Management

  • Have the supplier submit a project plan
  • Initial meeting to clarify all items
  • Regular Progress reports – standard format
  • Regular visits to engineers and operators
  • Control of sub-contractors
  • Regulate by stage payments

Installation and commissioning

  • Pre-delivery acceptance
  • Site preparation and resources
  • Acceptance of machine capability and performance
  • Tie to stage payment
  • Acceptance checklist
  • Clearly defined acceptance criteria and handover
  • Training
  • Operational Support
  • Run up to full production
    • Set realistic targets
    • Acknowledge learning curves
    • Needs managing
    • Operational and maintenance procedures in place.
  • Continuous improvement issues such as:-
    • Tooling Changeover time reduction
    • Poka Yoke
    • Maintenance Systems

Potential benefits of Integration

  • Better control of processes therefore higher productivity
  • Rapid feedback of problems therefore less scrap
  • Elimination of non-value added activities such as manual information gathering
  • Reduced cost by reduced manning levels
  • Higher product through-put
  • Automatic data gathering, e.g. for MOPs, SPC or traceablity
  • Reduced WIP
  • Reduced lead times
  • Improved return on Capital employed

For Success standards are required for:-

  • Hardware interfacing
  • Software Interfacing
  • Networks
  • Data Structures and Data Management
  • Man-machine interfaces
Further Reading