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How Digital Engineering Can Increase Growth for Manufacturers

Digital engineering and CAD/CAM

Digital engineering capabilities position organizations to create new product plans more quickly. From there, they can update production teams, supply chain managers and other key stakeholders on the changes in near-real time through an enterprise resource planning system, ensuring all teams have access to the most recent version of a plan and can stay on top of changes. This doesn't just improve visibility across the business, it also makes it easier to enact modern production strategies, such as custom and additive manufacturing.

Improving Engineering Processes

Digital engineering services are designed to bring together computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) capabilities with more traditional digital business technologies to empower engineering teams to work more cohesively with other lines of business. For many engineering teams, operating in isolation is the norm. They create product plans, go through multiple revisions within the team, publish the final version internally and maintain that file as the source material that production teams use. At that point, programmers step in to tell machines how to interact with the new plan, managers train staff to adjust to the alterations and, in the end, even small changes to product plans represent a huge change for the business.

Managing different versions of plans, adjusting supply chain processes, equipping staff members to adapt to the plan and implementing modern solutions, such as augmented reality, are easier with digital engineering solutions in place. These technologies allow teams to:

  • Gather feedback from organizational stakeholders on versions of the plans. For example, learning early if a design choice will create unexpected production complexity because a production manager can easily view and comment on the plan.
  • Make changes easily to tweak or customize a plan depending on a business or client need. For example, if a customer asks for a product to be adjusted with a different material, sales can request engineering make the tweak to the plan and estimate changes in cost and production timelines.
  • Avoid confusion about versions by ensuring all team members have access to the same centralized hub for storing and managing plans, so a clerical error in engineering doesn't create a situation in which the warehouse team is sourcing parts for a plan that's different than what production is using.
  • Integrate plans with various data management systems to automatically pull out relevant details for different team members: I.e. your inventory management platform automatically grabs lists of supplies from a plan because the data is stored digitally.

CAD/CAM digital engineering

With digital engineering systems in place, organizations are able to create a single digital thread for all plans. Instead of having to create a variety of documents - plans, parts lists, etc. - all in separate systems and communicated to varied user groups, that data is compiled into centralized files and locations, ensuring users get the information they need, when they need it.

Looking for new a ERP system? Download the guide: Selecting an ERP System in 7 Easy Steps 

Download the guide to selecting ERP in 7 easy steps - Smart Warehousing

Digital Engineering for Custom and Additive Manufacturing

Digital engineering systems allow for simplified data sharing, easier plan management and greater efficiency in creating and editing plans. As a result, organizations can much more easily enact strategies like custom and additive manufacturing in their operations, creating new value opportunities for the business.

Custom Manufacturing
Manufacturers have long had to stick with rigid, highly standardized production processes due to the steep challenges of making changes. This has limited customization as a viable manufacturing business model. Digital technologies are changing this. Communication tools make it easier to get team members on board with change and robots can be programmed to complete a variety of manufacturing tasks. Digital engineering solutions add a key layer of simplicity here.

Additive Manufacturing
The rising accessibility of 3D printing technologies takes the potential for custom manufacturing to another level. Organizations can quickly fabricate a wide range of items from diverse materials, all without having to create new production lines or adjust processes. Instead, they simply feed digital plans to the 3D printer, get the supplies in order and produce the item. Digital engineering is key in making this possible as organizations need digital plans to tell 3D printers what to do.

Digital engineering solutions - particularly those backed by digital warehouse, robust asset management and artificial intelligence capabilities - offer significant potential. Those gains rise to another level through enterprise resource planning systems that provide the centralized data conduit needed to take full advantage of the technology.

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