Mitteilungen aus der Produktionsinnovationserhebung No. 22e
For quite some time it seemed the trend towards high automation in the wage-intensive German economy showed no signs of slowing down. However, in practice it turns out that more than a third of companies which have chosen automated solutions have not had their expectations fulfilled. Many of these companies have already made reductions in automation levels for particular subsystems. The most important reason for dissatisfaction is the lack of flexibility in highly automated systems. Flexibility requirements resulting from turnover fluctuations and production changes for new products can only be realized at considerable expense in highly automated systems. This is particularly the case in the area of assembly. Almost 50 percent of companies with strong turnover growth have already reduced their automation levels for material flow in assembly or plan to do so. These results hold true regardless of the size of the company. Companies which have already reduced overengineering in production do not however simply return to pre-automation production concepts. Many companies succeed in putting experience gained into practical use and thus achieve improvements in rejection rates and on-schedule performance with a reduced and adjusted automation level.