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Manufacturing Systems Integration: What Is It And How Do We Teach It?

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.311.1 - 1.311.5

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Paper Authors

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Ph.D., Robert D. Borchelt

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2642

Manufacturing Systems Integration: What is it and how do we teach it?

Robert D. Borchelt, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


In today’s increasingly fast-paced manufacturing environment, engineers are called upon to design and develop manufacturing systems that can respond quickly and efficiently to constantly changing demands. The increased use of automation and continuing trend toward shorter life cycles and more customized products creates a heavy demand for sophisticated skills in information technologies, engineering management, quality engineering and many other areas. These skills need to be provided to our students, and need to be provided in a way that allows them to be viewed as part of their engineering skills, rather than as a separate set of “management tools” that can be “picked up later” or “learned on the job.”

Manufacturing Systems Integration

The phrase “Systems Integration” can be used to describe many different things. In manufacturing, the phrase is often used to describe the combination of highly sophisticated pieces of automated equipment into untended manufacturing systems. This use is very restrictive though, and fails to truly encompass the demands of modern manufacturing. To be effective at integrating manufacturing systems together, an engineer must have the ability to incorporate the perspectives of several different traditional “fields.” These fields include not only Manufacturing Engineering, but also Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Engineering Management. Since engineers doing manufacturing systems integration are expected to be able to interface well with their counterparts in the “traditional” engineering disciplines, they need to know the vocabulary, models, basic theories and assumptions that these “counterparts” will be using. To provide these abilities to our students, courses need to be developed that can expose students to these issues while reinforcing their relevance in manufacturing.


Most courses in manufacturing engineering programs are too focused on enabling technologies and provide only cursory coverage of management and business issues. Most courses in business programs are too focused on financial aspects and information management and provide only limited exposure to the technological limitations and constraints of manufacturing hardware. This is not unexpected, the instructors in

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Borchelt, P. R. D. (1996, June), Manufacturing Systems Integration: What Is It And How Do We Teach It? Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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