Digital Manufacturing: A complete guide [2024]

Brahm Meka
May 16, 2024
5 min
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An operator conducting operations by controlling a machine with digital tablet - Digital Manufacturing

Companies used to be limited in the past by the product they were designing when they were trying to build a manufacturing production facility.

Most of the time, people needed a working prototype before deciding how to build an assembly line, what machines to use, or how to set up the process. This was very costly and took a long time, sometimes even months or years, before anything useful could be done with it.

Today, after a digital transformation for manufacturing, companies can build a complete virtual model of their facility and assembly process before any physical prototype is created. This allows them to test and make changes to the design before they start making the actual product. This speeds up development timelines and reduces costs by allowing errors to be rectified early on.

Digital manufacturing is a process that uses computer technology to create products. This type of manufacturing has many advantages, including being able to create products faster and more efficiently. It can be used in various industries, such as automotive and aerospace.

What is digital manufacturing?

Digital manufacturing is when people use technology to make a copy of something before they make it for real. Engineers can test and improve the design before they start making it.

Creating custom products on demand means you don't have to worry about inventory management or minimum order quantities. This means that the product can only be made when it is ordered, and there is no need to keep finished products on hand.

This technology-driven approach is possible because of 3D printing, computer-aided design (CAD), and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

By connecting these tools and using them to create a digital twin of the manufacturing process, companies can map out every step of production before a physical product ever exists.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can help automate and streamline processes.

If all the data from different machines and processes are put into one system, people who make decisions can see everything happening in the manufacturing process. They can also make changes as needed. This also lets companies know when they need to order more raw materials. In the past, this information was often in different departments or on separate systems. This made it hard to understand what was happening in the manufacturing process.

ERP systems can help close the gaps between what is happening at every production stage. This will give everyone on the production team a clear view.

Computer-integrated manufacturing

Digital manufacturing is all about using technology to make production more efficient.

Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) is when machines are connected to share data and information. This helps to track production in real time and make changes if there are any problems.

CIM systems are helpful because they can automatically move work to another machine if one machine is running slow. This is impossible with a traditional, linear assembly line.

CIM also makes it easier to change or update the manufacturing process. The digital model can be quickly updated and sent to the machines if a new product is introduced. This eliminates the need for retooling and reduces downtime between different production runs.

Product lifecycle management

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is an important part of digital manufacturing. PLM software helps companies keep track of all the data and files associated with a product, from its initial design to its eventual retirement. This includes information about the materials, components, and assembly processes required to create it. By making this information readily available, companies can more easily make changes to the product or process.

For example, if the company that provides a certain type of material for production stops producing that material, the PLM system can quickly find a similar material to use instead. This helps to avoid any delays in production and keeps things moving along.

PLM is good because it has all the product information in one place. This is useful for various teams at the company, such as engineering, manufacturing, digital marketing, and sales. They can all find the information they need easily. PLM also helps ensure that everyone uses the same, most current files. This can save money by preventing missteps.

Benefits of digital manufacturing

There are many benefits for companies that use digital manufacturing, including:

  • Time and Cost Savings- Companies can take less time to make products and spend less money by testing the design and manufacturing process before creating a physical prototype. By doing this, companies can avoid any potential problems that might cause delays or require costly repairs.
  • Better Flexibility- If a company can change the design or process quickly, it is more flexible. This means that the company can respond better to customer feedback or changes in the market.
  • Better Quality - When companies know the manufacturing process before any physical product is created, they can avoid potential errors and make a higher-quality product.
  • More Customization and Personalization- Greater customization means being able to make a product that is just for one customer. Personalization means making a product that is special for someone. Running simulations means trying different ways to make something before making it.
  • Teamwork- CAD and PLM software are ways that people in different parts of the company can work together better. This is because everyone can see the same product information and files. This helps to avoid problems and mistakes.
  • Better Marketing - Integrating marketing and manufacturing can be difficult. With a technology-based design and engineering process, companies can better understand how their product is being made. This information can help them create more accurate marketing materials.

As technology gets more complicated and customers want more from businesses, it is important to keep up with what other businesses are doing. This way, your business has a better chance of being successful.

Using digital manufacturing in your own company

If you already have a physical production line, you might not see the benefits of creating a digital workflow. However, there are several ways that you can use digital manufacturing in your own company:

  • If you have a new product design that you want to test, consider using digital manufacturing to create a virtual prototype. This will allow you to make changes as needed and get feedback from potential customers before committing to the design
  • Custom offerings are things that you can make using digital manufacturing that is unique and not available anywhere else. This could be anything from personalized gifts to bespoke items.
  • If you only need to make a few things for one customer or project, digital manufacturing might be a good option. This is because you can create one item or a small group of items without spending as much money as you would for traditional production.

Digital manufacturing is a powerful tool that can help companies speed up development, reduce costs, and improve quality. It uses the latest technology advances and offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for businesses.

If you want to manage all aspects of your production line in one place, you should choose an ERP solution that offers digital manufacturing integration. There are many benefits to doing this.

With Brahmin Solutions 14-day free trial, you can explore how ERP (enterprise resource planning) and digital manufacturing can work for your business. Book a Demo to learn more.

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Brahm Meka
Founder & CEO

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