The product designer must analyse the product and consider if it can be economically assembled in it's present state, or decide if design changes are necessary for automatic assembly. In practice, the majority of products assembled manually require design changes to make automatic assembly viable. The product designer must consider what further benefits can be gained from more redesigning of design features, assembly operations, or even the elimination of parts. The process of design for automatic assembly is best effected by a systematic approach. A structured method for evaluating designs to identify inefficient features has been developed by UMass and other organisations.
An automatic feeding device and, at least, one workhead is required for
each component to be automatically assembled into a part-built
product. A significant reduction in cost is achieved by
eliminating a part from a product. Designers should strive for
the irreducible number of separate components per assembly, consistent
with its performance and fitness for purpose. An investigation
into the function of the product exposes redundant parts and these
should be eliminated.
Fasteners, which are separate from the component being secured, should
be avoided. Fastening technologies of the future are based on
adhesives, ultrasonic welding, soldering, resistance welding, clip
fastening, and twisted tab joining. Fasteners can be classed as
being permanent or semi-permanent. Permanent fasteners do not permit
removal, e.g. adhesives. Semi-permanent fasteners do permit
removal, e.g. screws.