Manufacturing processes are heavily embedded with complexities. The days of resolving process issues manually are long gone and have been replaced by computer aided manufacturing (CAM) methodology that is far more cost-effective, timely and productive to goals of manufacturing facilities. There are six important uses of computer aided manufacturing applicable to large and small manufacturing facilities.
1. Machining Equipment
The most popular use of CAM is in varying types of machining equipment used in manufacturing. These may include point to point machines that rely on numerical controls (CNC) for precision cutting, shaping and packaging.
2. Management of Overall Production Process
In chemical and OTC pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, CAM is used in turnkey manufacturing to expedite the overall production process. For example, CAM will specify volume of raw and secondary materials used in the chemical process. CAM reduces the time invested to produce a particular line of chemical products.
In OTC pharmaceutical manufacturing, the process may include powders, tablets and liquids, each of which relies on quantifying equipment to produce products and packaging equipment. CAM software applications provide safe, accurate measurements of product ingredients and specify types of packaging for liquid and dry OTC pharmaceutical products.
3. Fabrication and Engineering Design
Fabrication manufacturing uses several types of equipment synchronized with CAM software. For example, building panels, lineal, vinyl and thermoplastic sheeting are all fabricated using CAM software applications to determine size, density and durability of materials of construction based on engineering design specifications.
In the world of engineering design for manufacturing, CAM software applications are crucial to providing manufacturers with durable, reliable equipment design.
For instance, a fabrication manufacturer has a project that requires aluminum or steel panels for a large facility. The manufacturing or facility manager will receive CAM software engineering designs that meet their customer’s specifications. The design is then downloaded to a computer with CAM software that initiates the fabrication process.
4. Generation of Tool Path Designs
Machine shops may be part of a manufacturing or engineering facility. In the auto industry, design engineers rely on the use of CAM to create computer models of new auto designs.
In manufacturing facilities, a typical tool path design depends on the specific piece of equipment and each equipment part’s potential use.
Machining equipment relies on tool paths for Computer Numerical Control (CNC)for optimal operational efficiency. A good example of this is tool and die equipment used to manufacture molds, cutting tools, dies, machine tools, gauges, fixtures and jigs.
Die equipment consist mainly of presses that cut or shape material. Thus plastic molds, for example, may pass through a CAM process as thermoplastic sheeting, is cut and sized according CAM software specifications and proceeds to injection molding machines that create the shape. Eventually CAM programming signals the molding equipment to forward the shaped plastic mold to finishing machines.
5. Linkage of Equipment in Manufacturing Processes
Perhaps the greatest advantage of computer aided manufacturing is that it produces uniquely processed equipment, machines and parts linked to provide a speedy production process.
The other advantage of computer aided manufacturing is a greater level of quality and higher volumes of goods manufactured with maximum precision and accuracy.
For many manufacturers, computer aided manufacturing results in cost savings by reducing the need for increased quantities of materials used in processing and also a reduction in waste.
6. Equipment Safety
As a result of a facility’s reliance on computer aided manufacturing, one of the most significant uses is to ensure machine and equipment safety. This is also a cost savings that is related to a manufacturing facility’s maintaining OSHA compliance and avoiding compliance and liability costs.
Equipment that is monitored by CAM software reduces risk of injury. In certain types of manufacturing such as lumber, chemical mixing and those requiring extreme heat, use of computer aided manufacturing limits potential fatalities.
As technology evolves, computer aided manufacturing processes will result in a broader range of opportunities to expand their production while reducing production costs.