Silo-busting in the Supply Chain

Digital manufacturing, bridging the gap between silos and cost efficiencies across the board


The following will outline how executives increase revenue and reduce cycle times by taking a holistic approach toward design and manufacturing excellence:

Give manufacturing planners early access
With planners having visibility to in-work designs, it allows for concurrent design/manufacturing planning and ongoing manufacturing input into design decisions. This not only saves costs, as potential problems will be discovered earlier on in the process, but it also reduces non-value-added activities that waste time and energy.

Introduce production rules into design processes from the conceptual phase
PLM assists in introducing production rules into the design process from the very beginning. For example, a PLM data model will advise a designer that a company cannot manufacture an assembly as they have conceived it because of compliance or supplier conflicts. At the same time, production engineers can continue to consult the data models during the design process to ensure repeatability.

Provide a change management system with bi-directional communication and real-time impact analysis
The amount of collaboration necessary between the players that encompass these processes is staggering: The information required to describe the production of a product vastly exceeds the information represented within the product design itself. Consider the ramifications, then, of a very simple design change on a car — the information representing something as benign as, say, a change in the shape of a turn-signal stalk can have a significant multiplier effect by the time it comes to manufacturing.

Establish an integrated virtual product and factory definition that evolves together
Digital manufacturing tools connect the product that exists in a designer's imagination and the processes necessary to make that product a reality. It's important to validate and optimize plant and product layouts and processes before production begins through simulation of equipment, lines, people and material delivery. By using simulations integrated with plant layout to both better plan out the production line and ensure it remains up-to-date, it has been proven that material flow costs have been reduced by as much as 35 percent.

Virtual products and factories allow the integration of manufacturing processes, tooling designs, line designs and material handling to produce an overall factory layout that is more efficient and cost-effective.

Collaborate in a unified 3D environment to ensure designs are produced "right the first time"
Many leading manufacturers are using a digital environment to produce virtual products and perfect manufacturing processes before making physical plant investments. These digital factories can solve obvious problems-is my plant large enough to host an assembly line to manufacture an airplane-to less obvious ones-how does a redesigned part affect my existing assembly process? By simulating production in a "digital factory," companies can evaluate multiple plant and process designs even before any capital is committed. The result is a faster, more efficient, error-free manufacturing process, and a higher level of information-sharing throughout the supply chain.

Conclusion

While digital manufacturing solutions have been available for some time, most implementations have been comprised of siloed point solutions that provide only a portion of the capabilities available in a complete manufacturing solution. Point solutions clearly provide benefits, but they are not as extensive as the benefits received from integrated solutions. Digital manufacturing can be beneficial as a standalone, but when incorporated into a broad enterprise PLM process it is particularly compelling and results in substantially improved operations, more innovation and much higher benefits — leading companies to an ultimate competitive advantage.

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