June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.264.1 - 15.264.8
Case Studies for Learning Automated System Integration Abstract
Research indicates that the use of case studies for learning engineering design has a positive impact on generating excitement about engineering, conveying industry “best” practices, and demonstrating the design process. In addition, exposure to relevant cases can help in problem- solving and automated system design. Interviews with automated system integrators have shown that they often recall other systems they have seen or worked on previously—that is, cases—in coming up with conceptual designs.
This paper will describe the development of case studies to help students to learn the automated system design process. The case studies are based on examples from industry and illustrate good industrial design practice. Each case study walks learners through the stages of coming up with a conceptual design, including: 1) identify requirements; 2) collect data; 3) determine product assembly sequence and cycle time; 4) determine equipment required for assembly process; 5) determine layout of assembly line; and 6) perform cost estimation and analysis
Automation has a profound effect on the way we do work. A U.S. Census Bureau report notes that yearly exports in the flexible manufacturing category (equivalent to industrial automation) were $19.44B in 2006, a 10% jump from $17.61B in 20051. Moreover, monthly exports in the flexible manufacturing category were $4.06B in March 2008, a 0.5% jump from $4.04B in March 20072. This trend is likely to continue to increase as the manufacturing sector continues to transform to a high tech, less labor-intensive and value added industry using advanced automated systems.
Integrating the components of an automated manufacturing system requires knowledge about the various mechanical and electrical devices available to make up the system—including their functions, power requirements, and specific characteristics—and the ability to write PLC programs to orchestrate and synchronize the process being automated. It is a complex cognitive skill, and often there is no course available that teaches it. In addition, some colleges do not have the equipment resources needed to provide hands-on experience with automated systems. Consequently, new automation and control engineers are often not fully prepared to perform system integration tasks. Needed are readily available instructional materials that can better prepare new engineers for these challenging tasks.
A study by Hsi and Agogino3 suggests that the use of case studies for learning engineering design has a positive impact on generating excitement about engineering, conveying industry “best” practices, and demonstrating the design process. Hsieh4 has noted that automated system integrators often recall other systems they have seen or worked on previously (i.e., cases) in coming up with conceptual designs. Although there are quite a few programs that depict manufacturing processes (notably the cable TV show “Made in America”), there are relatively few instructional materials that systematically walk learners through the process of designing an
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