Technological change and robotics at FIAT, 1972-1990

A case of managerial discontinuity.

That is, product mix flexibility is the ability of a firm to align its output with respect to the actual demand for the product in the market. Product mix flexibility allows a firm to produce a wide range of products with presumably low changeover costs. A firm achieves product mix flexibility when it is able to produce a range of products in a random sequence in the same line. As it can be seen, product mix flexibility reduces the changeover costs of a firm and enables it to achieve cost efficiency.

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Product mix flexibility also affects capacity utilisation. Product mix flexibility achieved results in minimizing the effects of segment share volatility and demand segmentation on capacity utilization. Therefore, product mix flexibility results in increase of capacity utilization as it increases the overall output. On achieving product mix flexibility, a firm is able to increase the output that is produced by the installed equipment when compared to the output in the absence of product mix flexibility.

The deployment of Robogate technology in the spot welding shop was one of the main initiatives of Fiat to shift to flexible mass production. The main innovative feature of Robogate technology was that robots executed the entire welding process. The main idea behind Robogate technology was to make the processing of two more different cars in a random sequence possible and it was achieved. This technology robotised the system for bodywork assembling and became the mainstay of automation of production. An important feature of Robogate technology was the flexibility that it brought to the entire process. Even though the entire welding process was executed by robots, it allowed for a balanced mix of human intervention and automation in the whole process of production. This was essential to control the quality of the final output.

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