Towards Increasing Operational Flexibility in Final Assembly using Industry 4.0 Enabling Technologies
Licentiate thesis, 2021

Manufacturing companies are continuously trying to make their production systems, especially final assembly systems, resilient as environmental uncertainties increase and customer demands change. Operational flexibility offers the resilience and flexibility to help companies overcome difficult conditions quickly and remain competitive. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the horizon, new technology is helping manufacturing companies in their process of becoming resilient and flexible, transforming traditional assembly systems into Industry 4.0 enabled assembly systems. This thesis aims to provide an overview of using Industry 4.0 enabling technologies to increase operational flexibility in final assembly systems.

The research presented in this thesis follows a mixed-methods research approach. The finding are presented in form of appended papers. Various sources and driving factors of operational flexibility are identified via extensive literature reviews and inputs from industrial experts. Research shows operational flexibility will have a domino effect on other flexibilities. In the final assembly environment, this research finds human operators as the most flexible resource. This thesis identifies and presents different Industry 4.0 enabling technologies that are best suited to influencing operational flexibility in final assembly. Use of various Industry 4.0 enabling technologies and their impact on operational flexibility in final assembly is presented and discussed from three different perspectives: human, machine and software. The outcome suggests that human operators should be the focus when implementing any new Industry 4.0 enabling technology in final assembly. This allows a maximum increment of operational flexibility to be achieved. One such technology identified in this thesis is that of collaborative robot applications; which has huge potential for increasing operational flexibility. Collaborative applications have the necessary characteristics of being highly flexible and safe to use alongside human operators; this makes it an ideal choice for use in increasing operational flexibility in final assembly systems.

collaborative robot application

final assembly

operational flexibility

Industry 4.0

Virtual Development Laboratory
Opponent: Gunnar Bolmsjö, Linnaeus University


Omkar Salunkhe

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Production Systems

Assembly 4.0: Wheel Hub Nut Assembly Using a Cobot

IFAC-PapersOnLine,; Vol. 52(2019)p. 1632-1637

Paper in proceeding

Increasing operational flexibility using Industry 4.0 enabling technologies in final assembly

IEEE Transactions on Communication Technology,; (2020)

Paper in proceeding

Framework for Identifying Gripper Requirements for Collaborative Robot Applications in Manufacturing

IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology,; Vol. 591 IFIP(2020)p. 655-662

Paper in proceeding

Operational flexibility in final assembly

Subject Categories

Mechanical Engineering

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics



Virtual Development Laboratory


Opponent: Gunnar Bolmsjö, Linnaeus University

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