University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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Flexible Manufacturing Cell Laboratory

Flexible Manufacturing Cell Laboratory



The U.S. manufacturing industry today faces high levels of local and international competition. Several factors help define a manufacturing company's competitiveness including new product development time, production lead time, flexibility in responding to changes in demand volume and variety, quality, price, responsiveness to customer delivery requirements, and use of state-of-the-art materials, processes and technologies. In every case, the company's ability to respond to these factors depends critically on the capability of its manufacturing organization.



Faculty, Manufacturing and Production Systems specialization


Jingshan Li  — Convenor


Core faculty


Ananth Krishnamurthy
Robert G. Radwin
Leyuan Shi
Dharmaraj ("Raj") Veeramani
Shiyu Zhou


Affiliate faculty


Gregory DeCroix
Mark Finster


Emeriti faculty


Harold Steudel
Rajan Suri


Program requirements

Advising information [PDF]



Enhancing manufacturing competitiveness


Manufacturing systems engineering researchers at UW-Madison have developed a coherent set of methodologies, computer-aided tools, and experimental testbeds to design, analyze and improve manufacturing systems. These include:


    • An integrated approach to rapid modeling, analysis and simulation of manufacturing systems to answer questions related to equipment and process selection, product lot sizing and flow design.

    • Computerized tools to design and optimize asynchronous automatic product assembly systems.

    • Computer simulation tools to design and evaluate flexible computer-integrated manufacturing cells.

    • System architectures and algorithms for distributed control of large intelligent manufacturing systems.

    • Methodologies and computer-aided tools for product design assessment for manufacturability and assemblability, intelligent process planning and CAD/CAM integration.

    • Methodologies for systems and product design which produce manufacturing systems that are more economical to analyze, control, and operate.

    • State-of-the-art automated manufacturing equipment including a new flexible manufacturing cell, stand-alone CNC machines, robots, CMMs, and PLCs. (See details below in section on laboratory facilities.)

    The industrial and systems engineering manufacturing systems specialization is intended to provide the skills and expertise necessary to compete successfully in a manufacturing environment. These skills include knowledge of manufacturing processes and machines and their control, knowledge of the essentials of manufacturing systems design and analysis, and knowledge and "hands-on" experience with modern manufacturing technology. After satisfying the necessary breadth requirements of the program, students may choose to study, in more depth, a number of specialized topics from the approved course offerings to enhance their career readiness.



    Employment prospects


    Graduates of the manufacturing systems specialization enter industry with the skills and knowledge to apply theory and tools to enable manufacturing firms to become more competitive. The manufacturing systems specialization allows students to integrate coursework from the School of Business, helping them to develop insights into financial and managerial aspects of manufacturing as well as the technological components.


    Managers of manufacturing enterprises today are faced with an enormous number of competitive pressures as well as a revolution in philosophy and methodologies for improving manufacturing systems. CAD, CAM, Just-in-Time, Total Quality Control, Design for Assembly, Design for Manufacturability, CIM, FMS, Kaizen, Statistical Process Control, Taguchi Methods, and a host of additional tools and methodologies have all proven to provide substantial improvements in quality, reduction in cost, increased productivity, or improved responsiveness when the concepts are applied correctly in appropriate settings. It is the job of the manufacturing systems engineer to understand and apply these new methodologies to guide the improvement of the manufacturing enterprise.


    Specialists who design and operate modern, automated computer-integrated manufacturing systems face a bright future. Generic problems faced by the designers of such systems occur in virtually every manufacturing activity in the country. There is a demand for continuous improvement of product designs and manufacturing systems to help U.S. industries meet intense competition from abroad. This challenge will require a large number of manufacturing systems engineers, both now and well into the next century. This demand will occur in the face of projected declines in the number of U.S. engineers available to fill these positions.



    MSIE, Manufacturing and Production Systems


    MSIE, Manufacturing and Production Systems [PDF]



    PhD, Manufacturing and Production Systems


    Recent dissertation titles include the following:


    • Optimization of Asynchronous Flexible Assembly Systems

    • Economic Feasibility and Performance Modeling of a High-Speed LIM-Based Tool Delivery System for Machining

    • State-Dependent Scheduling for Manufacturing Systems

    • Analytical Queuing Models of Manufacturing Workcells with Consideration of Operator Level and Assignment

    • Design and Analysis of Error Recovery Strategies in Flexible Assembly Systems

    • Performance Analysis & Productivity Improvement of Flexible Assembly Cells



    Laboratory facilities and research centers


    The manufacturing systems specialization provides students access to state-of-the-art laboratories and computing resources in flexible manufacturing, simulation, CAD/CAM, visualization and systems integration. Students also have access to other campus facilities such as the Computer-Aided Engineering.


    The College of Engineering participates in a large number of industrial consortia-organizations of faculty, students and industrial sponsors formed for research in specified technical areas. In addition to these consortia, the manufacturing systems specialization program has strong ties with industry that provide students the opportunity to work on applied research projects and help solve industrial problems.


    Flexible Manufacturing Cell Laboratory


    This laboratory enables integrated design, manufacturing, inspection, and assembly. It includes CAD/CAM systems, CNC milling and turning centers, an automated storage and retrieval system, a material-handling conveyor and robots, a CMM integrated with a computer-aided inspection system, and an assembly robot having tactile- and vision-sensing capabilities.



    Manufacturing Systems Analysis Laboratory


    In this laboratory, students and faculty members perform research on new techniques for modeling and analysis of manufacturing systems, and application of these techniques to enable time-based competitive manufacturing. The laboratory consists of several computers equipped with state-of-the-art system analysis tools.


    Production and Service Systems Laboratory


    In this laboratory, students and faculty members carry out research on developing rigorous engineering theory for modeling, analysis, improvement and control of production, healthcare, and service systems, and applying the derived results in practice. All the problems studied are important issues originated from industry, after abstraction and theoretical derivations, their solutions have been successfully implemented on the factory floor or in hospitals and clinics. The laboratory is equipped with several computers and cutting edge software tools.


    UW RFID Laboratory

    The UW RFID Laboratory involves a multidisciplinary group of faculty and students who conduct basic and applied research on RFID (radio frequency identification) and related automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies. The laboratory comprises of multiple state-of-the-art testbeds. Our focus is on understanding the true capabilities and limitations of these technologies, and developing strategies and approaches for their successful application in a variety of industries including manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and healthcare.


    Center for Quick Response Manufacturing


    Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) is a company-wide strategy to cut lead times in all phases of manufacturing and office operations. It can bring your products to market more quickly and secures your business prospects by helping you compete in a rapidly changing manufacturing arena. QRM will not only make your firm more attractive to potential customers, it will also increase profitability by reducing non- value-added time, cutting inventory, and increasing return on investment.


    See for more information.