person holding tablet with robotic arm in front freepoint technologies

Digital Manufacturing: The Future of the Factory is Now

Over the past few decades, IT has penetrated deep into manufacturing, making it a core component of all industrial systems of today. The need for reduced development time coupled with the demand for customized products has only increased its need. Today, Digital Manufacturing provides the most comprehensive answer to challenges that plague the current manufacturing landscape.

Digital Manufacturing makes use of an integrated, computer-based solution that is made up of components such as simulation, 3D visualization, analytics, etc. that enhance collaboration between different manufacturing units and harmonizes various processes. At the turn of the century, technologies such as Computer Aided Design, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Digital Mockups, etc. reached maturity, forming what is today known as Digital Manufacturing.

Digital Manufacturing solutions have now become a key requirement for reaping the long-term benefits of product lifecycle management (PLM). It allows vital integration between PLM and other industrial assets, enabling design & manufacturing units to exchange valuable information with each other. As an end-result, manufacturers can cut costs and achieve their throughput goals in an efficient and timely manner.

Digital Manufacturing makes use of the vast ocean of data collected from various industrial units, simulating them so that processes can be optimized. Feedback is used iteratively from actual production operations to keep the managers up to data of ongoing tasks. Manufacturing engineers are able to create a complete virtual environment that includes:

–          Tooling

–          Assembly Lines

–          Work Centers

–          Ergonomics

–          Facility Layout

–          Resources

How will IoT help with this?

From 2012 to 2014, the number of sensors has increased more than five times, thanks to the reduced cost of these technologies. As Digital Manufacturing is based on the data provided by sensors distributed across an industrial unit, the use of IoT is necessary for improving the digital model’s accuracy, flexibility and responsiveness. IoT will provided manufacturers with an in-depth view of all that is happening within the production process. The data collected would be reflected upon the digital manufacturing application, and an intelligent analysis would allow manufacturing engineers to control assets’ setpoints for maximum efficiency.  

As a whole, Digital Manufacturing would pack the following benefits:

–          Consistent approach towards product design.

–          Optimization of manufacturing processes.

–          Reduction in commissioning costs through robotics & automated programs.

–          Creation of optimal factory models so throughput peaks at maximum efficiency.

–          Facilitation in sharing of quality, real-time information across organization.

An automotive original equipment manufacturer or OEM serves as the best example of Digital Manufacturing. Through proper integration of digital services, the entire manufacturing processes can be virtualized, allowing designers to study the effects of new layouts and ideas. This would allow the early detection of any error, before the design hits the assembly lines.

Companies such as Intel, Ford, GE, etc. have already implemented solutions based on Predictive Maintenance, allowing them to anticipate prospective zones of failure and eliminate production of defective items.

While digital manufacturing, may seem like a thing of the future for most companies, manufacturers (big or small) don’t have to wait for implementation of new equipment to start seeing positive results. At FreePoint Technologies, our simple and noninvasive machine monitoring software connects with each of your current machines; regardless of brand, type, complexity or age. Going beyond the machine, we also focus on engaging and empowering your employees, equipping them with real-time data to see tangible progress, and allowing them to make informed decisions.

Get in touch with us today to learn more.