As technology continues to advance, industries have found new ways of integrating these technologies to improve their manufacturing processes. Traditional manufacturing has been based on the use of dedicated production lines, which limits the flexibility that these manufacturing processes can have. Through advanced manufacturing, companies are making use of technologies and techniques to gain a competitive edge. In order to achieve this level of competitiveness and flexibility, one must understand how the wide spectrum of relevant technologies available can be integrated towards a focused goal.
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
For a long time, additive manufacturing was viewed as an excellent prototyping tool in the manufacturing industry, useful for testing fit and function as well as for getting a better understanding of the final product, instead of having to visualize it through a computer monitor. However, additive manufacturing technologies have greatly expanded past this use case as more companies rely on additive manufacturing for the production of tooling and end-use parts. This technology allows us to diverge from common design methodology, but as designers with experience in traditional manufacturing, the default is often a design based on considerations for traditional manufacturing.
As 3D printing continues to break all the conventional design rules, the reality is there are still best practices and guidelines when designing parts for additive manufacturing. When designers and operators understand how to exploit a technology’s strengths, there is an improvement in part quality, throughput and wider adoption of additive manufacturing throughout the production process.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Enterprise resource planning software is a business management solution that serves as a master source of enterprise information. As companies grow and departments become isolated, the need for maintaining a centralized overview of a company’s resources becomes critical. As an example, let’s take a look at inventory management. A project manager needs to know what inventory is available in order to better understand the cost of the project in case more inventory needs to be purchased. The purchasing department needs to know when inventory is running low to replace internal stock or for project-specific needs. The manufacturing department needs to know if they have the material required for the operations assigned to them. If this information is coming from multiple sources, this can lead to a breakdown in communication and inefficiencies in the workflow. Maintaining all of this information in a single database, visible to all departments, ensures that a company’s resources can be managed efficiently.
Although there are generic ERP systems that are able to bring all core business processes into one database, there are some situations in which a manufacturing ERP system like DELMIAWorks can provide additional functionality for manufacturing-specific needs.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Industrial internet of things refers to the use of the internet of things (IoT) in industrial sectors. IIoT, powered by a network of sensors used to collect critical production and manufacturing data, enables companies to have better efficiency and reliability in their operations. IIoT technologies can enable greater visibility into shop floor and field operations, remote operations and even into the manufacturing supply chain. Cutting down on machine downtime and optimizing asset management can lead to cost reduction. It can also help automate the processes needed for advanced manufacturing.
TriMech Client Assessment (TCA)
With so many moving parts within an organization, it can be hard to know what processes and technologies need to be implemented for efficiency while avoiding negatively impacting specific departments. We want to make these implementations pain-free, not make more work for the end-users with time-consuming steps that need to be taken in order to make the technology work. This is why TriMech offers client assessments as a service. A TriMech client assessment is a comprehensive process analysis performed by TriMech. The service consists of interviews with stakeholders, formation of recommendations and presentation of high-quality deliverables. This lets us understand a company’s production workflow through the lens of every department to ensure that the technology is being implemented in the most efficient way possible.
The truth is, most companies already have access to some of the technologies mentioned in this article, but it is often found that they are not being used to the full extent of their capabilities, or they are not well integrated into every step of the production workflow. I challenge you to look into your current manufacturing processes and find one area in which you could integrate technology in an effort to increase efficiency and remain competitive in this rapidly evolving landscape. If you need help, reach out to our team for an assessment.