In today’s scenario, companies need to have a cutting edge technology in order to withstand the market competition. Digital manufacturing refers to the use of computer technology to integrate tools such as simulation, 3D visualization and analytics in order to create layout of product manufacturing process. Digital manufacturing is a subset of product lifecycle management (PLM) which improves overall production efficiency. It provides and supports process planning, factory modeling, visualization and simulation of operations, human factor analysis and collaborative communication. This allows manufacturing engineers to create a complete definition of the manufacturing processes such as tooling, work centers, assembly lines and resources in a virtual environment. It helps to effectively plan the processes before being production of products. Digital manufacturing takes feedback from actual production operations and include it into the new product design process, allowing companies to design and arrange production line during the planning of factory layout.
The rapid growth in PLM is expected to boost investments in digital manufacturing. Digital manufacturing improves production efficiency and reduces time to market for a product. It also helps company to plan and train manpower in advance. Further, it can also validate robotics and automation programs virtually. Digital manufacturing allows part manufacturing processes to be optimized within a managed environment. This will help companies to utilize its resources in efficient manner and decrease production cost considerably. Digital manufacturing allows to execute production processes by comparing real-time to lifecycle data. Digital manufacturing can be used to facilitate lean and flexible manufacturing by providing a graphical environment to analyze dimensional variation.
But on the other hand, high initial investment is a major constraint for this technology which is hampering the investments from small and medium size companies into digital manufacturing technology. The dependence on external enterprise partners for digital manufacturing implementation is a concern for companies as it affects their net profitability.
Digital manufacturing has seen more adoption in the developed economies such as North America and Europe and some parts of Asia Pacific. Emerging economies such as China and India will witness a greater adoption of digital manufacturing during the coming years. Industrial sectors such as Aerospace, defense and automotive have a wide range of application for digital manufacturing solutions. For example, an automotive manufacturer can design the entire manufacturing process in digital manufacturing software at the same time when car designers are designing the next vehicle. Because of this, manufacturing engineers are able to provide immediate feedback to designers, if there are any constraints in the part manufacturability. Therefore, the application of digital manufacturing will be helpful to sectors which contain long production processes and need advance planning. Other industrial sectors such as transportation, consumer packaged goods, hi-tech electronics and industrial machinery are increasingly adopting digital manufacturing. The application of digital manufacturing will increase during end of this decade as more and more companies look to decrease lead time and boost profitability.
Some of the key companies involved in providing digital manufacturing services are Dassault Systemes, Mentor Graphics Corporation, Parametric Technology Corporation Inc, SAP SE, Cogiscan Inc, Krontime SL, TATA Consultancy Services, Siemens AG, Autodesk Inc., and Aras Corporation.
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