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The Design of a Reconfigurable Assembly System Testbed for Teaching Manufacturing System Design

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Innovative Project-Based Learning Practices in Manufacturing

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Paper Authors


April M. Bryan Western Washington University

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Dr. April Bryan is an Assistant Professor at Western Washington University. Her areas of expertise are product design and development, design optimization, manufacturing systems, and concurrent engineering. She currently teaches courses in drawing and graphics, manufacturing, engineering design, and mechanics.

Dr. Bryan received a Ph.D. and MSc. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2004 and 2008 respectively. She is also a 2000 alumna of Tuskegee University, where she obtained her B.Sc. degree in Aerospace Science Engineering.

Dr. Bryan gained industrial experience at John Deere where she worked as a Design Engineer from 2000 - 2002. .She has also held academic positions at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.

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John Andrew Lund Western Washington University

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Dr. Lund's research involves the development of novel control systems, sensing and measurement tools for unique environments. His previous and ongoing research efforts include the development of a high-resolution wireless instrumented mouthguard for the assessment of severity of head impacts, development of an ultra-long lifespan wireless sensor devices designed to form robust data networks in remote areas lacking infrastructure, and the development of of an electron-tunneling spectroscopy based microscope control system for molecular analysis.

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The development of a manufacturing system testbed based on the principles of reconfigurable manufacturing systems (RMS) provides an opportunity for teaching the practical side of manufacturing systems, while overcoming the challenges of high equipment start-up costs and rapid obsolescence of technology. As a result of its focus on design around a product family, a RMS is typically modular, adaptable and scalable. These characteristics make a RMS attractive for use in manufacturing systems courses as it allows faculty the ability to start with a manufacturing system that is affordable, and then to change the system as additional resources become available or as technology changes. In addition, a truly reconfigurable manufacturing system provides opportunities for students in different project groups, within a given course, to demonstrate the implementation of theoretical system designs on a single manufacturing system.

This paper presents the design and development of the Western Reconfigurable Manufacturing System Testbed (WeRMST), which was developed using the principles of reconfigurable manufacturing. The WeRMST was developed to support the teaching of a future course in manufacturing systems. The paper includes a description of the product family of lamps that the WeRMST was developed to produce and illustrates how the WeRMST could easily be adapted to produce other product families. When implemented, the proposed manufacturing system is expected to positively impact student engagement, retention, and motivation.

Bryan, A. M., & Lund, J. A. (2016, June), The Design of a Reconfigurable Assembly System Testbed for Teaching Manufacturing System Design Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26114

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