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Digital manufacturing

Digital manufacturing integrates simulation, 3D visualization, analytics and collaboration tools to create simultaneous product and manufacturing process definitions, enabling industries to design entire manufacturing processes digitally, fostering collaboration between engineers and designers.

What is digital manufacturing?

Digital manufacturing is the use of an integrated, computer-based system comprised of simulation, 3D visualization, analytics and collaboration tools to create product and manufacturing process definitions simultaneously. Digital manufacturing evolved from manufacturing initiatives such as design for manufacturability (DFM), computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), flexible manufacturing and lean manufacturing that highlight the need for collaborative product and process design.

Many of the long-term benefits of product lifecycle management (PLM) cannot be achieved without a comprehensive digital manufacturing strategy. Digital manufacturing is a key point of integration between PLM and shop floor applications and equipment, enabling the exchange of product-related information between design and manufacturing groups. This alignment allows manufacturing companies to achieve time-to-market and volume goals, as well as realize cost savings by reducing expensive downstream changes.

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Understand the benefits

Digital manufacturing helps manufacturing companies improve productivity in planning and production processes, in the following ways:

Ensure a consistent and a comprehensive approach

Enable product, process, plant and resource information to be associated, viewed and taken through change processes, with a consistent and comprehensive approach to production design.

Reduce commissioning costs

Reduce commissioning costs through simulation by validating robotics and automation programs virtually.

Support six-sigma and lean initiatives

Support six-sigma and lean initiatives by providing a graphical environment to analyze dimensional variation.

Optimize part manufacturing processes

Optimize the part manufacturing processes within a managed environment to produce flexible work instructions to display 2D/3D part information, as well as machining and tooling instructions.

Create factory models faster

Create factory models faster and ensure they are operating under optimal layout, material flow and throughput before production ramp-up.

Facilitate the sharing of quality data

Share quality data across your organization by generating complete, verifiable CAD-based machine inspection programs for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and numerical control (NC) machine tools.

How digital manufacturing applications work

Digital manufacturing facilitates collaboration for a holistic view of product and process design

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.

A high-tech supplier can use a digital manufacturing system to create a 3D simulation of a complete production line and analyze the different production variants and concepts as part of the request for quote (RFQ) process. This transparency and precision in planning and proposal preparation help the company gain greater customer confidence and ultimately win the contract.

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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The executive's guide to digital manufacturing

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