Abstract

Reconfigurability in manufacturing signifies a system's capacity to promptly adapt to evolving needs. This adaptability is critical for markets to maintain operations during unexpected disruptions, including weather anomalies, cyber-attacks, and physical obstructions. Concurrently, the concept of a circular economy is gaining popularity in manufacturing to mitigate waste and optimize resource utilization. Circular economy principles aim to reduce environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits by emphasizing the reuse of goods and resource byproducts. The nexus between reconfigurability and the circular economy stems from their shared pursuit of sustainability and resilience. Interestingly, biological ecosystems also exhibit these traits, showcasing exceptional adaptability to disturbances alongside the ability to effectively utilize available resources during normal operations. This study explores various manufacturing system configurations to assess both their adaptability and connection to circular economy principles. 44 configurations are categorized based on layout (e.g., job shop, flow line, cellular) and analyzed using convertibility, cyclicity, and Degree of System Order metrics. A significant positive correlation (R2 = 0.655) is found between high convertibility and ecologically similar levels of structural cycling, suggesting that effective resource utilization supports adaptability in manufacturing systems. Furthermore, this paper proposes the existence of a possible “window of vitality” for cyclicity, as it demonstrates a significant correlation (R2 = 0.855) between the Degree of System Order and cyclicity. Identifying systems that strike a balance between redundancy, efficiency, convertibility, and cyclicity can aid manufacturing system designers and decision-makers in making choices that address increasing requirements for both sustainability and resilience.

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