Manufacturing System

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The Role and Impact of the Application of Computing Technology to the Function of Manufacturing, Including Assembly.

Introduction

Technology has been applied through the use of machines and tools in doing tasks more efficiently. Moreover, technology has been used to extensively control the world. Mankind has continued to apply the use of technology in its everyday activities including production and manufacturing. This level of technology has evolved from the initial level of handcrafting tools and making of fire to an advanced level in manufacturing, assembly and production. In essence, this has seen the use of Rapid Prototyping technology, the Electronic manufacture, the Machine tools, handling and storage systems in the manufacturing industry. The advancement in technology has been stimulating production to be easier each day, making it cheaper and quicker. Short curves are impacted by technology and the production of units is advanced. The advancement in technology leads to an automatic advancement in the quantity and quality of goods manufactured and produced. This advancement influences the labour as the workers are replaced with machines run by computers. For instance, construction automotives are replacing workers with computer controlled robots.

Manufacturing Industry

Innovations have been steered by the development in the microelectronic fields, organisation technologies and the information field. These developments have really instigated the manufacturing industry. The manufacturing and assembly industry has undergone an increase in the replacement of its mass production, single purpose, specialization and use of a computer to aid designs through fixed equipment. This has given birth to the computer aided designs, also known as (CAD), and computer aided engineering (CAE). There has been the incorporation of the transporting devices, automatic handling devices and the robots in the purpose of manufacturing and assembling. This has further led to the development of computer aided manufacturing (CAM) and the computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) that has led to the efficiency in manufacturing in terms of beating the demand in time and the production of mass goods (Meguid, 1987).

Application of Computing Technology

The computing technology is applied in the fabrication, design and planning of the processes of products manufacturing. The application of computing technology in manufacturing was mooted by computers’ advent after the Second World War. This was mainly used for the applications related to the military. Currently, the technology is being applied commercially in various manufacturing levels. This has been applied in biomedical, electronics, chemical, and automobile fields, and in the aerospace. These industries greatly rely on the use of the computers in manufacturing (Elanchezhan, Selwyn and Sundar, 2007).

The application of the computing technology has seen the use of software in the control of machines. These machines are usually related to the manufacturing. The use of computers has been applied in various manufacturing and assembling operations including transportation, management, and storage and planning. The primary reason for the application of computing technology in manufacturing and assembly is to enhance the consistency in materials and increase the production pace. This also minimizes the amount of waste from raw materials as there has been precise dimensions and consistency in the material used in the manufacturing process.

Computer Aided Design, Computer Aided Engineering and Computer Aided Manufacturing

In manufacturing, the computer aided design (CAD) is widely applied. This has been a contemporary application of the computers in manufacturing. This application is used by engineers in the drawing of curves and lines through the use of the computers instead of using the drafting tools and paper. The drawings of curves and lines are stored in the computer’s memory and as the engineer draws, it is displayed on a screen. After completing the drawing, the final product is then stored in the computer. The CAD program is extremely useful and provides the option of copying and pasting. Numeric values are also inserted to change the spreadsheet as desired without necessarily making changes by using pencils and rubbers. Previous drawings and designs can also be easily recalled from the memory of the computer for adjustments and aiding in the new designs (Regalla, 2010).

Alongside with CAD, one may observe the use of computer aided engineering (CAE) which mainly contains hypotheses on the behavior of materials. This application uses techniques of visualization such as the use of animations in the stimulation of the performance of the products under different loads. The CAE is used by engineers in the creation of various stimulations that aid in determining the behavior of machines and their various parts in different circumstances. The various CAE applications are commonly used in the automobile and aerospace industries in an attempt to address the issue of reducing weight.

The manufacturing process does involve the handling and the produt fabrication of the materials involved. This is always done after the completion of the processes of design and engineering. This process can be automated through the application of the computerized technologies. The computerized technologies are always referred to as the computerized aided manufacturing (CAM). This application also uses the computer aided design, thus, it is commonly referred to as CAD/CAM (Jacobs, 1996).

The MRP II Application

Computerized manufacturing has also seen the application of the MRP II tool. This is a computer based tool that contains business information management. This tool integrates all the functions of the company and helps the manufactures in the correct production of products at appropriate times. This application aids in the reduction of time taken for delivery, therefore goes a long way in reducing inventory investments and shortages of products. Through the MRP II, the reporting and performance measurements are enhanced, there are better controls of cost, the quality of work life is improved, productivity is increased and new products are fast introduced. The use of the tool leads to success in manufacturing companies. Its application is maximized through the employment of an education system that is detailed to the employees. It also enhances the commitment and data integrity in the system by the employees. Furthermorem manufacturing companies apply the model in decision making on the higher levels. This is because the model basically relies on the information and feedback from the lower levels of the company’s management. There are other applications of the computerized technology which have impacted the manufacturing and assembly industry. These include the Rapid Prototyping technology, the Electronic manufacture, Machine tools and the Handling Storage systems.

Rapid Prototyping Technology

Rapid Prototyping is a technology applied in quickly fabricating the scale model of assembly or physical part through the use of a three dimensional design that is computer aided. This technology basically applies the CAD. The printing is done in 3D for the purpose of construction. The application of prototyping dates back to the 80s where it was used in producing prototype parts and models. Today, the technology is applied in a wider range. This includes the use of the technology in the manufacturing of products of quality parts. The prototyping technology is even used in the production of exhibitions by a number of sculptors. The technology used in rapid prototyping works on the basis of building up of a component layer using one thin layer of material that is bounded to a thin layer. The technology works in various processes including stereo lithography, laser sintering, the used deposition modeling, the solid ground curing and application in laminated object manufacturing. The technology is also applied in the ballistic manufacturing of particles and the 3D printing which is currently doing well in the markets. The processes in prototyping do start essentially with nothing but the end product is always a part that is complete. This technology contrasts other manufacturing processes like the use of the milling machines which do start off with solid materials which are heavy materials such as steel. Such processes use the block materials in cutting finished products. The processes of rapid prototyping are basically driven by instructions that are based on a three dimensional aspect that is computer based. This is referred to as the CAD model, which is the computer aided design. The rapid prototyping processes apply various physical principles. However, the main base of the technology is through using lasers to cure, cut and sinter the materials into layers. The technology also involves the ejecting of materials from nozzles in the creation of layers. Depending on the processes applied, there are a lot of materials that are used. These materials include photopolymers, thermo polymers, metallic powder, wax, paper and plastics. The application of rapid prototyping is not limited to the creation of new products development but can also be applied in the creation of tooling for products. The processes are therefore useful in the creation of models, prototypes, tooling and more still, in the direct production of metal components (Grimm, 2004).

Uses of the Technology

Rapid Prototyping technology is mostly used in the actual production of physical models. The models produced from the technology are then further used in the production of tooling through direct or indirect processes that are secondary. This includes the investment casting processes. The obtained tools are used in the manufacture of various components. There has, however, been the development and the emergence of new processes that allow for the manufacture of the tooling directly from the components. This is an emulation of the production stage of physical model. This application has led to the possibilities of direct manufacturing from the models of computer, and, therefore, working towards the elimination of the production stage of physical model and tooling. Rapid Prototyping started off as an application that was very expensive in the production of physical models but this has since changed.

Impacts on Manufacturing and Assembling Fields

The Rapid Prototyping hhas greatly advanced the manufacturing and assembly fields. This is because through the technology, there has been the ability to span the life cycles of products to be complete through the application of the generation concept. This has further been achieved through the preparation of detailed and specified designs in order to ease the manufacturing processes. The Rapid Prototyping technology has further addressed the prototyping mechanical devices areas, housing, components among other areas. However, the application has not been in the electronic or software component definitions. Rapid Prototyping has its use more common than the use of manufacturing processes that are conventional like the machine of five axis milling. There are, however, other situations where the two applications are always used in the production of prototypes.

Electric Manufacture and Machine Tools

Machine tools are used in shaping or machining of metals. The machine tools are used for grinding, sheering or cutting of metals among other forms of shaping metals. The main use of machine tools is cutting and shaping the solid metals. Every machine tool does have its own means of constraining the various work pieces providing guidance in the movement of the different machine parts. There is thus a relationship between the cutting tool and the work piece. Machines are used to ease the work in manufacturing. However, not all company tools are machine tools. Machine tools were in the past powered by the human muscles. At present, this has changed as machines are being powered by forces which are hydraulically, electrically or line shaft powered. This has been applied in the manufacture of parts and components of various products. Machine tools pose precession which in turn has seen the production to be economical. (Mehta, 2002).

Computing Aspect in Machine Tools

Machine tools were initially manually operated. However, there has been a shift to an automated operation of the machine tools. The machines used in the early days were powered by flywheels in order to stabilize their movements. There was a complex system of levers and gears that controlled the machines. This has changed with the advancement of technology. Electricity has been used in the powering of machines, hence replacing the manual powering. With the technological advancement, computerization has been applied in the running of machine tools. A lot of machines have now been computerized through a model known as the computerized numerical control (CNC). The model ensures that there is a repeat of the sequence, thus producing pieces that are much more complex that surpassing the toll operators who are skilled. Currently, machines are in a position to automatically change the cutting specifications and shaping of tools. For instance, drilling machines contain a variety of drill bits in a magazine that are used in the production of holes of various sizes. This is different from the initial stages when the changing of the drills had to be done manually. Through computerized technology, there has been a combination of various machine tools which are different under the control of a computer. This had eminently impacted on the making of various parts. The use of the computerized technology has thus led to a faster production of parts.

Handling and Storage Systems

There is always need to have space for work, keeping materials and various parts in an organized manner and maintaining an environment that is safe for the operations of the workers. This cuts across the board, whether it is a distributor for food and beverage, school, hospital, government office, contractor, local business owner or a national manufacturer. The storage systems and the material handling solutions should work towards supporting the goals of the business. This calls for an optimization of the daily business operations and a fast and easy access to everything that is needed in the business. This seemed cumbersome at the start but computerization technology has since eased the load.

The ASRS

Through the introduction of the automated storage and retrieval system model (ASRS), there have been significant efficiencies in the process. This is a computerized method that is controlled by the computer. In the method, there is an automatic retrieval and placing procedure from the various locations that are specific in the computer memory. The system is used in cases where the company has a huge load of goods moving in and out of the company’s storage, and there is need to keep track of the same. There is an importance of storage density because there are always a lot of constraints experiences as a result of space crisis. Accuracy is usually needed to avoid the potentiality of damaging the load in the storage. The application of ASRS comes handy in handling loads that are both non standard and those that are standard because of its accuracy. The ASRS helps the companies in the minimization of unnecessary products and parts in the storage thus cutting down on the expenses. The content of an organisation’s warehouse is also improved as more storage space is created as a result of narrow aisles and storage that is high density. Tracking of the products is also easily achieved. It is also easier to analyze data through the model (Ratchev and Koelemeijer, 2008).

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