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Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS): Definition and How It Works

File Photo: Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS): Definition and How It Works
File Photo: Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS): Definition and How It Works File Photo: Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS): Definition and How It Works

What is an FMS (Flexible Manufacturing System)?

Flexible manufacturing systems (FMSs) can quickly adjust to product type and quantity variations. Machinery and automated systems can produce various parts and adapt to fluctuating production volumes.

Learning Flexible Manufacturing Systems

A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) may boost efficiency and lower production costs, vital for corporate growth. Flexible manufacturing may support a make-to-order strategy, enabling customized items and reducing inventory. Flexibility might cost more upfront. Bespoke equipment may be expensive to buy and install compared to typical systems.

In the early 1950s, American industrial engineer and inventor Jerome H. Lemelson (1923–1997) submitted many patents on flexible manufacturing. He designed a robot to weld, rivet, deliver, and examine the produced items.

When Lemelson proposed his technique, it was still unattainable, and the FMS emerged on factory floors in the late 1960s and 1970s in the US and Europe once it became practical to make one.

An FMS configuration may have networked workstations and computer terminals for end-to-end product development. Data processing, loading, unloading, machining, assembling, storage, quality testing, and loading are possible. The system may automatically switch between processing a batch of one set of items in one amount and another set in another quantity.

Make-to-order strategies that allow customers to modify items can use flexible manufacturing.

Pros and Cons of FMS

The primary benefit is increased manufacturing efficiency, and not shutting down the manufacturing line to switch to a new product reduces downtime.

FMSs have higher upfront costs and take longer to create system requirements for future demands. Dedicated personnel for FMS operation, monitoring, and maintenance incur additional costs. However, FMS supporters claim that automation often leads to decreased labor expenses.

How are flexible management systems (FMS) set up?

An FMS can be configured in several ways. Its versatility is its most significant draw. Interconnected computer workstations might process product production end-to-end. This includes loading and unloading, machining, assembly, storage, quality testing, and data processing. The FMS programming can also automatically swap between product quantities.

What are FMS’s pros and cons?

The main benefit of an FMS is increased production efficiency, which prevents delays by eliminating the need to halt production when introducing a new product.

Higher upfront expenses and more time to establish system requirements for future demands are drawbacks. FMS-specialized technicians pay more, and automation reduces labor expenses overall.

Who created FMS?

Jerome H. Lemelson (1923–1997), an American industrial engineer and inventor, is credited with creating flexible manufacturing. His early plan used robots to weld, rivet, deliver, and check produced items. In the late 1960s and 1970s, his systems appeared on factory floors in the US and Europe, becoming more widespread.


  • A flexible manufacturing system, often known as an FMS, can adapt to different product types and varying quantities.
  • FMSs enable manufacturing to be automated, which reduces costs associated with manpower.
  • The design and installation of FMS systems are more expensive than those of fixed systems, and these systems also require professional people.



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