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CAD, CAM, CNC and Robots = Manufacturing Automation

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CAD, CAM, CNC and Robots  = Manufacturing Automation

Manufacturing is an evolving industry.  Automation, manufacturing, off-shoring – all contribute to changes in the way products and parts are designed, developed and manufactured.    Fast, effective design strategies are essential for companies who want to keep up with the latest in manufacturing automation.

CAD refers to the design process and is described this way by AutoDesk:  CAD is the use of computer technology for design and design documentation. CAD/CAM applications are used to both design a product and program manufacturing processes, specifically, CNC machining. CAM software uses the models and assemblies created in CAD software to generate tool paths that drive the machines that turn the designs into physical parts. CAD/CAM software is most often used for machining of prototypes and finished parts.

CAM refers to the use of various software packages to create toolpaths and NC code to run a CNC controlled machine, based on 3D computer model (CAD) data. When the two are used together, this is generally referred to as CAD/CAM.

CAM does not actually run the CNC machine.  It creates code for it to follow. It is also not an automatic operation that imports your CAD model and spits out the correct NC code. CAM programming, like 3D modeling, requires knowledge and experience in running the program, developing machining strategies, and knowing what tools and operations to use in each situation to get the best results. While there are simple programs that for the inexperienced user to get started without too much difficulty, more sophisticated models will take an investment in time and money to become proficient.

Robotic CNC machine tending provides manipulation and transport capabilities that are more complex than basic material handling processes. Machine tending robots are used to secure the product from a supply position, transport it to a machine, interact with the machine and then remove the finished part from the machine. Managing this process by robot minimizes incorrect product placement due to human error and increases speed and efficiency of production.

Robots and Software

Robots can cut the total cost of machining by as much as 30%, per some studies.  But it’s not just a matter of telling the robot what to do.  Specialized software is required.  One such is Siemans NX CAM Software.

According to SiemansNX provides complete computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software solutions for machine tool programming, postprocessing and machining simulation. NX CAM software’s advanced functions in each of its modules can maximize…ROI… in the latest machine tool technology.

NX CAM can be used in many industries, from aerospace and automotive to medical, tool and die, and machinery.

NX CAM along with data an process management establishes a basis for an extended part manufacturing solution. All types of data, including 3D part models, setup sheets, tool lists and CNC output files can be easily managed with full revision control. This data and process management ensures that the right data, including correct tooling, and right NC programs are deployed, resulting in reduced delays and costs.

Getting the Right Data from 3D Models

The integrated CAD and CAM capabilities in NX enable the 3D model to move seamlessly between the applications without data translation.  But, it’s essential to prepare the 3D Part Model.  The model needs to be edited to close holes and gaps, offset faces, and resize part features. Specialized CAD functions in NX also enable you to quickly analyze the part during CAM programming. Using these functions, including cross section and minimum radius analysis, you can define optimum machining processes for your parts.

CAD/CAM Services specializes in 3D modeling for many uses and many industries.  Contact us for all your 3D modeling needs.

 

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CAD and PLM

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CAD and PLM

PLM software is as much a part of manufacturing as CAD software.  In fact, in some ways the two go hand-in-hand, PLM being the data management tool of design and engineering.  PLM helps to drive the product lifecycle in an organization.  PLM systems aid in the planning and development of products on an enterprise level, from conception through design, manufacture, service and disposal.  PLM can be considered a major cornerstone of a manufacturing corporation’s information technology structure, and is a logical extension of CAD that combines with the management of communications and information among customers, suppliers, and internal resources.

Implementation of an enterprise-wide PLM system requires the integration of many types of corporate data, from pricing structures to supply chain information; but possibly the most critical integration is that of legacy CAD data.   It is critical to maintain both the accuracy and the accessibility the CAD data in order to minimize the likelihood of data corruption or loss which could cause production delays and cost overruns.

Six Critical Steps

Our experts have identified six steps in the migration of CAD data to a PLM that are mission critical.  We’ve highlighted the steps below, but downloading our White Paper will provide you with more details.

Understand the requirements of the new PLM system

Any PLM system is going to want to “see” the data in a particular way.  Not adhering to the structure may result in data that cannot be accessed by one or more of the PLM tools.

Assess the value of your existing CAD data

GIGO (Garbage in = Garbage out) is as applicable a phrase in today’s advance technology as it was when it was first coined in 1963.

Know what the migration will require in terms of people, resources and time

Since we are talking specifically about CAD data migration, it is important that your CAD manager or another CAD team member who has in-depth knowledge of the existing CAD data and the ways it will be used within the PLM be included early in the process.  f

Understand the complexity of CAD data migration

Once your CAD migration team is established, make sure they understand the need to maintain the integrity of relationships between CAD files.  Overtime, these relationships  between legacy files can become very complex.

Identify and assess risks

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Considering potential risks and problems ahead of time and planning for unforeseen issues can save a lot of heartburn during the migration process.

Rely on experts for help and guidance

While a professional migration specialist can provide expert guidance for the entire PLM migration project, a CAD consultant can provide the expert help that you need to get your CAD files in order

Managing CAD files is different from managing other types of data for a lot of reasons, and one reason why is the need for both version and revision control.  In fact, one of the main reasons companies adopt a PDM/PLM system is to make sure that versions and revisions are managed properly.  Managing versions and revisions properly is probably most important when the drawing goes to manufacturing, since a revision change most likely indicates a required tooling change.

There are significant advantages to be realized when CAD and PLM systems are tightly integrated:

  • Minimization of errors
  • Improved collaboration
  • Better cost estimates
  • Consistent product quality

 

Free White Paper – How to Migrate CAD Data to PLM

BIM Helps Small Construction Companies Compete

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Large construction companies were early adapters of BIM.  They saw how BIM could improve profitability and push global competitiveness.  While small construction companies may have been aware of BIM advantages, often their limited cash flow and less far-reaching future planning left them out of the initial push to BIM.small and mid-sized construction companies have traditionally been at disadvantage when competing in the larger global market or against high-stakes players.   This is where a well-organized BIM service company can provide small contractors with the same competitive advantages as larger companies, but without the need for purchasing the infrastructure (software, hardware and personnel) to support the newer technology.

BIM Services Help Small Contractors Adapt and Thrive

Because Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become ubiquitous in the design and construction fields, any contractor who wants a piece of the action needs to be able to provide BIM models.  BIM models enable shared knowledge resources in order to support decision-making about a facility from the earliest conceptual stages, through design and construction and on into its operational life and eventual demolition.

This 3D model-centric process presents the ability to reduce costs, improve collaboration, and deliver projects faster.   While this concept is more recent within the AEC community, it was already widely adopted and very well established in the manufacturing arena in the guise of digital prototyping.

BIM Service Providers Offer Better Outcomes for Small Contractors

A qualified BIM Service Provider can offer small contractors many different design disciplines and software alternatives that can help improve their client presentations, and aid collaboration between the designer, the contractor, specialists and suppliers, using a single, shared 3D model.  This is collaboration at its best – a working partnership with a BIM service provider that offers all the benefits of an in-house BIM team.  This kind of collaborative working relationship ensures that everyone is focused on achieving best value, from project inception to eventual decommissioning.

In addition, an experienced BIM service provider can offer small AEC firms:

  • Enhanced performance – by providing swift and accurate comparison of different design options, enabling development of more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable solutions.
  • Better outcomes – Projects can be visualized at an early stage and easily modified in the design stage to achieve desired outcomes.   In advance of construction or manufacturing a BIM service provider can ‘build’ the project in a virtual environment, rehearsing complex procedures, optimizing temporary designs and planning procurement of materials, equipment and manpower.
  • Faster project delivery – Often a BIM service provider can save a small business up to 50% in design time.
  • Reduced waste – Cash-conscious small AEC firms need to be certain that materials are not over-ordered.  Precise program scheduling enables just-in-time delivery of materials and equipment, reducing potential for damage.

Focus on a Partner, Rather than the Technology

When you know that you should adopt BIM, but you just aren’t ready or able to commit the resources, then it’s time to focus on finding a BIM service provider with whom to partner.  It won’t be too long before BIM will be the norm for your small firm and partnership with a BIM Service Provider will be considered the natural evolution of your business strategy.

When your company decides to implement BIM (Building Information Models), it’s important to realize that the implementation is not about the technology, it’s about changing your entire organization.  In order to successfully convert your blueprints and drawings business to BIM, you need to educate your employees and redesign your processes.  The technology is the easy part.  Changing people and processes is much more difficult.   Sometimes managing the change with the help of a BIM services firm can make the adaptation faster, easier, and less painful all the way around.

Download white paper using BIM Technology – Guide For Small Cunstructions

Avoid the High Cost of Production Downtime with Deviation Analysis

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How Deviation Analysis aids Inspection in Aerospace & Defense.

When it comes to production downtimes, the tangible and intangible costs can be overwhelming as well as detrimental to manufacturing organizations. One of the best ways to quickly jump these costly and time consuming hurdles is to use Deviation Analysis in your inspection process.

Deviation Analysis for Inspection.

While deviation analysis is referred to by a number of terms such as comparative analysis, computer aided inspection (CAI), computer aided verification (CAV), or color map, the process is the same. Point cloud data is overlaid to an existing CAD model or scan data of another part to show deviation. Not only is it used for rapid inspection, it is also used for rapid design verification, part-to-part comparison, and tooling validation.

Accuracy and Speed.

Because accuracy and speed are paramount in the Aerospace and Defense industry, deviation analysis is the inspection process of choice for many. It clearly indicates out of tolerance conditions with far more data than traditional coordinate measuring machine (CMM) reports. Producing point clouds gives engineers the ability to measure everywhere, instead of being restricted to only certain parts of a drawing. Furthermore, it provides rapid solutions to help swiftly move through production downtimes.

Experience.

“In my ten years of experience working for QC Engineering, I’ve seen a range of customers that have experienced the cost and time benefits of deviation analysis,” says Steve Traynor, Engineering Manager at The QC Group. “When traditional inspection methods don’t always paint the full picture, deviation analysis offers a clearer and more transparent insight into your part’s final performance. Most manufacturing design is done digitally, and now, using deviation analysis with a CAD database makes it easy to do the same for inspection. Additionally, if done during the design phase, it can even prevent the product from failing inspection which would ultimately save even more time and money.”

Analysis of the color map can provide valuable insight into how the parts fit together and function in an assembly, as well as deviation of individual components. A single laser scan can produce data for a multitude of inspections.

Download a few of our sample files and see what a typical deliverable would look like, and how it can help you avoid manufacturing downtimes, keep your customers happy, and save you time and money.

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Advantages of Converting my AutoCAD drawings into a BIM model

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Compared to a traditional construction process, BIM could benefit constructors in many ways by simplifying estimating tasks, by enhancing value engineering, identifying conflicts, facilitating communication between team members and scheduling tasks. It is also reducing change orders or RFIs. And these result in increased efficiencies, decreased waste that ultimately for contractors and their subs lead to greater profit.

The benefits of BIM for constructors in each of the four stages of a typical construction project are: winning the bid, pre-construction, coordination, and execution. So, in terms of winning the bid, the ability to participate in the bidding process itself is a differentiator. That’s because only about 25 percent of the construction market has even begun to implement any level of BIM awareness into their projects, according to a report from Mcgraw-hill construction. So you want to be part of that group. Besides to being a differentiator, BIM applications can help contractors win bids by simplifying conceptual modeling. Cost estimating and visualization tasks can be extremely time-consuming with the AutoCAD process.

In terms of pre-construction tasks such as constructability analyzes and value engineering, this would be greatly enhanced with BIM data. For example, BIM tools can determine if the site isn’t large enough to allow for concurrent schedule task to take place. Once the pre-construction tasks have been worked out, often the next step is coordination. This is an extremely time-consuming and very error-prone process in AutoCAD. Such are the risks BIM solutions can significantly automate through various tools.

Execution tasks such as the construction BIM data can help itself and verification through assisting in visualizing the construction process, and through visual simulations of the construction progress itself. BIM tools can quickly and accurately determine the quantities involved for reporting.

We’ve helped many construction companies realize these benefits. To learn more about BIM or the software tools required, please reach out to us at management for more information.

Download white paper using BIM Technology – Guide For Small Cunstructions