What is a flexible manufacturing system?

A flexible manufacturing system (FMS) is a form of flexible automation in which several machine tools are linked together by a material-handling system, and all aspects of the system are controlled by a central computer. 1. The Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is a manufacturing methodology where an entire or partial production line including a material handling system has been automated in order to give it time to react in the event of unforeseen changes. There are three types of changes for which flexibility is needed, they are: Variability, Rare Events, and Uncertainty. Variability refers to foreseen changes in production these changes are planned, the second change is, Rare Events, this is where a potential problem has been identified and contingency plans are in place to deal with the problem, and thirdly: Uncertainty, this is where the variability of a problem and the way to plan for it is unknown and must be dealt with when it arises. All the automation takes place through Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), CIM is nothing more than a central computer processing system that continually monitors and self -compensates or makes changes automatically through Programmable Logic Controls (PLC's) to meet its work load requirements.