Digital Manufacturing

Digital manufacturing is the use of an integrated, computer-based system comprised of simulation, 3D visualization, analytics and collaboration tools to create product and manufacturing process definitions simultaneously. Digital manufacturing evolved from manufacturing initiatives such as design for manufacturability (DFM), computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), flexible manufacturing and lean manufacturing that highlight the need for collaborative product and process design.

Many of the long-term benefits from product lifecycle management (PLM) cannot be achieved without a comprehensive digital manufacturing strategy. Digital manufacturing is a key point of integration between PLM and shop floor applications and equipment, enabling the exchange of product-related information between design and manufacturing groups. This alignment allows manufacturing companies to achieve time-to-market and volume goals, as well as realize cost savings by reducing expensive downstream changes.

Digital Manufacturing Applications

Facilitates collaboration for a holistic view of product and process design

Digital manufacturing is utilized across industries. An automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can design the entire manufacturing process digitally (tooling, machining, assembly sequencing, and factory layout) at the same time that designers are designing the next vehicle program. This enables manufacturing engineers to provide immediate feedback to designers if there are constraints in the part manufacturability. This collaboration between manufacturing engineers and designers creates a holistic view of product and process design.

A high tech supplier can use a digital manufacturing system to create a 3D simulation of a complete production line, and analyze the different production variants and concepts as part of the request for quote (RFQ) process. This transparency and precision in planning and proposal preparation help the company gain greater customer confidence, and ultimately win the contract.

Current initiatives in the development of digital manufacturing tools involve improving user experience, so information is presented in the context of tasks performed, allowing users to make better decisions faster. Steps are being taken to provide direct connectivity with shop floor hardware, such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), machine controllers and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines. Unified platforms have also been developed to manage both PLM and manufacturing execution system (MES) information.

Benefits of Digital Manufacturing

Digital manufacturing helps manufacturing companies improve productivity in planning and production processes, in the following ways:
  • Enables product, process, plant and resource information to be associated, viewed and taken through change processes, with a consistent and comprehensive approach to production design

  • Allows part manufacturing processes to be optimized within a managed environment to produce flexible work instructions capable of displaying 2D/3D part information, along with machining and tooling instructions

  • Reduces commissioning costs through simulation by validating robotics and automation programs virtually

  • Helps you create factory models faster and ensure they are operating under optimal layout, material flow and throughput before production ramp-up

  • Supports six-sigma and lean initiatives by providing a graphical environment to analyze dimensional variation

  • Facilitates the sharing of quality data across your organization by generating complete, verifiable CAD-based machine inspection programs for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and numerical control (NC) machine tools

  • Executes production processes with real-time access to lifecycle data