The evolution of Manufacturing Industry and Processes could be traced along the same lines as that of the IT Industry. One of the basic and common factors in the evolution cycle of these industries is reducing Human Interface.
From manual manufacturing processes of yesterday, the industry today has made a shift towards and has started witnessing the benefits of Digital Manufacturing. Digital Manufacturing, as the name suggests, simulates all the processes of manufacturing on the computers to define the most efficient processes for the companies. The entire manufacturing process right from Assembly lines, human ergonomic simulation, Robotic Simulation, plant layout, etc. could be defined, developed, implemented and monitored virtually in the 3D environment.
This results in enabling companies to achieve utmost production efficiency, in reduced time and costs thereby facilitating early entry to the market.
Right from the Classic Example of Toyota, the early adopters of this imminent technological trend, to our very own indigenous MNC TATA Motors who are as well not very far behind, all the automotive companies in the world are now digitally simulating their plant layouts and production processes in their efforts to attain production excellence.
Digital Manufacturing Solutions and technologies through their offerings like “Design for Manufacturing” and “Design for Servicing” help the companies configure the optimum workflows during the plant layout stage which enables the companies in enhancing the productivity and overall output of the company. Digital manufacturing solutions could be used to design and plan the green plant (right from scratch – new plant) or brown plant (to bring out necessary planning and layout changes in the existing plant). Either way, it configures optimum and customized workflows for the companies which would help them generate the highest possible level of production output thereby enhancing the production capacity of the plant.
Issues concerning to constraints in manufacturing or feasibility of manufacturing popularly referred to as “manufacturability concerns” or “ergonomic constraints” are very difficult and highly expensive to rectify once the plant, workflows and processes are established. A prior validation would help companies identify such concerns at the earlier stage of planning and would hence save the time and cost of rectification. Because digital manufacturing solutions create and present the plant planning in the virtual 3D environment, it becomes easy for the companies to validate and evaluate their designs to identify such concerns beforehand and address them at the planning stage. Apart from the virtual validation of plant and processes, these technologies also help the companies to plan and allocate their resources and also make optimum use of their available plant space. The human ergonomic simulation helps companies to identify the ways and means of carrying out a task manually which would cause minimum possible physical stress to the people working on the shop floor. This reduces the chances of accidents and occupational hazards. It thus helps Companies to build plants that are more efficient yet secured, safe, and worker-friendly.
The more than ever competent companies of today believe in taking calculated risks. To sustain and move ahead of the competition, the companies today are committed to implementing management principles such as 6 sigma, kaizen etc.
The digital manufacturing processes could prove to be a boon for the companies who are committed to implementing Six Sigma. It would in-turn help the companies in bringing about product and process quality enhancement and control, which would identify defects, reduce errors etc. to attain utmost production accuracy. Hence the benefits of such solutions are not just limited to the Shop floor but could also be extended to attaining the higher management goals.
Thanks to such technologies, the companies today can try out many “what if” scenarios at minimum costs to validate their processes and arrive at the most optimum solutions. They can try all the options through simulation and finally incorporate those suitable changes in the actual practice which would best benefit them. Companies stand to largely gain from the benefits of virtual validation and simulation of Plants and Processes, concurrent Engineering and Customized approach to arrive at the right approach for achieving higher efficiencies.