As we all know, manufacturing is the production of merchandise for sale; using labor, machines and tools. Manufacturing process management refers to the technologies and methods that determine how labor, machines, and tools are put to use during production.
For manufacturers, planning manufacturing processes can pose some difficulties. Hence the need for large enterprises to hire project managers.
But for small manufacturing businesses, hiring a project manager may not be practical. And this is where the need to consider other planning and execution techniques come in.
Using CAD for Product Design
Designing a functioning prototype is the first stage of the product manufacturing process and with the aid of 3D CAD applications like Autodesk’s Maya or Microstation, a realistic representation of your product can be designed, analysed and have its functionalities tested to gauge its performance once built.
These techniques are being used every day by both major corporations and SMEs to save cost as the following case study will show.
GINTIC Institute of CIM—a national Research & Development (R&D) Center and a BIM company in Singapore—have continuously made use of CAD techniques to simplify their production processes in multiple ways.
In 2014, GINTIC commenced the design of knee-joint prosthesis uniquely suited to Asians in order to reduce muscle strain cue to continuous kneeling.
To accomplish this, the Singaporean institute made use of CAD applications to design the prototype and test its efficacy in order to cut cost before production. This new project adds to GINTIC’s use of CAD as a product design tool and its previous success in using CAD to design jewelries and a lightweight, diskless laptop computer means this new goal is certainly achievable with the aid of computer aided design techniques.
Using CAD for Product Testing
Computer aided design also helps simplify the processes involved with testing new products while saving huge amount of resources because these tests can be carried out using CAD software before starting the physical production process.
This process has been successfully put to use by organizations involved in the manufacturing of large scale projects such as airplanes, vehicles and even elevators as can be seen from the example of Shanghai Edunburgh Elevator—a Chinese elevator manufacturing and installation firm.
For years, Edunburgh Elevator had been saddled with the difficulties that comes with the design analysis, engineering change management, product analysis and collaboration issues when developing elevator plans for its clients.
To solve these research and development problems, the company integrated the use of CAD software applications offering BIM services to create a streamlined design ecosystem for its engineers, architects and project managers working on similar projects.
One year into the use of Solid Edge as its elevator design tool and NX Nastran for design process simulations, Edunburgh Elevators’ realised exceptional productivity gains which includes a shortened R&D cycle, easy collaboration, real-time troubleshooting, access to exceptional design functionality and most importantly reduced costs.
And according to Mao Zhongwe—Chief Engineer Edunburgh Elevator—the integration of CAD has drastically reduced the time employees spend working on a project as well as improved turnaround durations thereby increasing the company’s competitive edge.
Using CAD in Additive Manufacturing
Another interesting manufacturing process in which the use of CAD techniques cannot be overlooked is in the field of additive manufacturing otherwise known as 3D printing. In fact, the use of CAD is an integral process to manufacturing intricate 3D objects as every printing enthusiast knows. This is because a 3D printer is fed a digital 3D model prototype which serves as the map for the printer to copy when manufacturing an item.
Although 3D scanners can be used to produce a digital 3D model, it does not have the capabilities of a CAD software to produce intricate designs, test the breaking point and stress analysis of components as well as create entirely unique designs before going into production.
Finally, it is worth noting that learning the use of a CAD application comes with its own challenges due to the steep learning curve associated with most CAD software tools and for an entrepreneur or business owner, you are left with little or no time to study the design processes involved. In such situations considering an outsourced BIM operating technique were you engage the services of a CAD design firm that collaborates with you in bringing your ideas to life must be considered.
This leaves you enough time to focus on your core business operations while allowing you to simplify your manufacturing processes at an affordable cost.