Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to apply group assembly (GA) considerations to the construction industry and to provide evidence of construction sector industrialization with quantitative results. Moreover, a flexible assembly system is proposed, especially designed to cope with variability: this can be easily extendable to other industrial sectors, especially when dealing with extremely variable environments. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a case study conducted at an Italian company leader in the design, manufacture and installation of architectural claddings and lightweight continuous facades. Findings – The research empirically demonstrates how the application of GA and the creation of project families lead to consistent enhancement also within the construction industry. The case study reveals great improvement in terms of both operating and ergonomic performances, agile assembly system reconfiguration design and make span reduction. The possibility of correlating a new project to an identified family gives the opportunity to understand the best assembly line layout configuration which should be assigned to the project, to improve the throughput time and the controllability of the assembly process and to guarantee efficient floor space utilization, lead‐time control, accuracy and reliability. Originality/value – The novelty of the study lies in the way the assembly layout is designed to cope with variability: the assembly line, which is dedicated to more stable processes, is coupled with pre‐assembly stations, easily reconfigurable, meant to be “variability absorbers”. As far as the authors know, this is also the first time GA is applied to the construction industry. Moreover, a timely topic such as construction sector industrialization is confirmed by quantitative results.
Assembly Automation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 27, 2011
Keywords: Italy; Group assembly; Construction industry; Flexible manufacturing systems; Design for assembly; Assembly process variation management