The increasing variety of products and the variability of the demand are pushing manufacturing companies in a challenging and competing environment. These trends affect many industrial sectors, including the automotive one, impacting the whole supply chain, including the production of spare parts. The automotive spare part’s market is aimed at providing replacing parts during the whole life cycle of cars. As the design of cars becomes more and more sophisticated, producing spare parts requires complex production processes, a wide range of different technologies and the need to cope with different materials. In this context, the design of assembly systems and proper management policies have a considerable importance for the competitiveness of spare parts suppliers. In this paper, a configuration approach is proposed, to select a robust design solution for a reconfigurable assembly cell. The solution consists of an initial configuration together with a set of alternative reconfiguration plans to cope with the intrinsic uncertainty of the spare part manufacturing requirements. An innovative reconfigurable assembly cell architecture is exploited, while robustness is pursued by minimising a function of the risk associated with investment and operational costs of the assembly cell. The viability of the proposed approach is demonstrated through the application to an industrial case. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.