Flexibility increases competiveness of manufacturing industries

Jun 23, 2015 | Research/Cooperation

Narges Asadi, doctoral student at MDH, wants to make production more flexible. In her licentiate thesis, "Supporting flexibility in an assembly system through product design", she presents methods that can make the manufacturing of different products within the same assembly system both faster and more cost-effective.


Products have ever shorter lifetimes. To meet today’s customer requirements, manufacturing industries need to offer different products that are updated often and quickly make it onto the market. This requires regular changes in manufacturing systems, which sometimes can be both time-consuming and costly. By focusing on flexible assembly and the relationship to product design, Narges Asadi wants to develop methods that make it easier to meet the need for flexibility.
– The possibility to manufacture different products within the same assembly system would mean an enormous competitive edge, says Narges Asadi, who defended her licentiate thesis on 12 June.

A concept that’s hard to capture

In her licentiate thesis, Narges Asadi has investigated flexibility within assembly systems, for example in terms of strategic planning and employees with broad skills. She also identifies the new requirements that a flexible system entails for the actual design of the products to be manufactured. The results are compiled in a descriptive framework consisting of four steps. The framework is meant to be used for coordinating the process from product development to assembly.

The study is the first of its kind, in that it provides examples of what a flexible assembly system can look like, and thus of considerable interest to many manufacturing industries.
– The need for research has been signaled by the industry, but flexibility is a concept that’s hard to capture. Previous studies were carried out in a sporadic manner and have often adopted a general view of manufacturing, without going into the details, says Narges Asadi.

Cooperation with the industry creates opportunities

In connection with her doctoral thesis, Narges Asadi will put the framework to the practical test. She began her journey at MDH with the master’s programme in production and logistics in 2009. Before that, she took a bachelor’s degree in Iran and worked in the manufacturing industry for five years. The possibility to combine theory with practical experiences at MDH is one of the big advantages that made Sweden attractive.
– Due to the time I spent in the manufacturing industry, I’m very interested in issues related to manufacturing, and at MDH I have really appreciated the close cooperation and exchange with the industry. MDH has come to be my second home, says Narges Asadi.