Digital Manufacturing: A Holistic view of product and process design.

Digital Manufacturing: A Holistic view of product and process design.

Digital manufacturing is nothing but a technology-based viewpoint to production that links different data stores and processes in the manufacturing lifecycle so that stakeholders can take better business decisions effectively. An important objective of digital manufacturing is to improve productivity and respond to changing customer demands in a more rapid manner. 

The ways people and organizations use information has shifted drastically. Data storage is available at a cheaper cost and flexible manner, and advanced analytics and AI are giving us new abilities to draw insights from large amounts of data. Modernization in virtual and augmented reality, next-level interfaces, advanced robotics, and additive manufacturing are all opening the gates to digital disruption. And in the upcoming decade, digital manufacturing technologies will allow organizations to connect physical assets by a “digital thread”—unleashing a seamless flow of data across the value chain that will link every part of the product life cycle, from design, sourcing, testing, and production to distribution, point of sale, and use.

Available design software enables manufacturers to create a “digital twin,” a virtual replica of a physical part or product. This virtual product opens the door to an unprecedented level of collaboration, tapping multiple sources of expertise across multiple disciplines throughout the supply chain process. Along with that, stakeholders involved at various levels can engage in real-time, virtual product and process optimization.

With the help of digital manufacturing and design techniques, SMMs can tackle their present needs as well as secure a place in the supply chain of tomorrow. 

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.

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.

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