Tag Archives: Process Automation


It’s almost impossible to imagine a company that doesn’t rely on Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) this day and age. After all, both have had a major impact on the world, with industries across the globe booming almost overnight. Nowadays, CAD and CAM software has become in demand so much that Autodesk resellers see vast profits on a monthly basis.

But why exactly do CAD and CAM enjoy such popularity? How exactly are they making various industries better? Well, let’s look at manufacturing as an example. We will discuss all the benefits that both CAD and CAM have when it comes to modern manufacturing. But before we do, let’s first go over what exactly CAD and CAM are and how they came to prominence over the years.

CAD and CAM in a Nutshell

Broadly speaking, Computer-Aided Design refers to using software to design certain objects and items in a virtual environment before manufacturing them. We can use the software to either draw 2D images or create 3D models. A wide variety of industries use CAD, including but not limited to:

On the other hand, Computer-Aided Manufacturing refers to the process where the software converts a CAD model into a language that a manufacturing machine can understand. Once that’s done, the machine starts to manufacture the designed models with incredible accuracy.

CAD and CAM rely on one another heavily. One is an essential tool for finding the best way to design the desired part, while the other automatically feeds the solution to the right bit of hardware that creates it. When used properly, these two methods can deliver hundreds of units with precision and a low rate of manufacturing errors. They have reduced the number of human resources originally used for this purpose and have automated the process in new and unimaginable ways. And much like CAD, Computer-Aided Manufacturing can be applied to any industry.

Now that we know a bit about both computer-aided fields, let’s see what benefits you might reap from using them.

A List of CAD-CAM Benefits in Modern Manufacturing

Improved Machining Capabilities

Let’s say that you have a complex project. For instance, you have a 5-axis machining task, and your CNC device requires a proper tool path to perform what is required. Fortunately, your CAD system will already have a model ready to feed into the CAM system, which converts it into data that your machine can read easily.

Automation is almost immediate, and all you really need to do is a bit of micromanaging and handling some finer details. Not only does that allow you to finish the project in time, but you also get to have a finished product that’s precise, up-to-scale, almost flawless, and, more importantly, ready to replicate.

Improved Client Accessibility

With both CAD and CAM software readily available for purchase, it makes the whole customer-manufacturer relationship faster and more reliable than ever before. Let’s observe a typical situation. As a manufacturer, you receive a request from a potential client.

But instead of it containing specs written in plain English or sketched on paper, it’s a CAD request, with a fully finished model and all the relevant data. So, all you really need to do is feed the CAD model into your own software, compare and contrast it with the other relevant specs, and then run a few simulations. That way, you can tweak and modify any imperfections and small errors, ultimately delivering the best item possible to your client.

Automatic Specification Checking

Somewhat related to the point above, automatic spec checks are incredibly vital to modern manufacturing. By feeding a prototype model into CAD software, you can:

Reducing Material Wastage

Modern CNC machines are cutting-edge tools whose precision and output are excellent, without question. However, they still manage to produce waste, and the more projects you take on, the more material wastage you can expect.

Naturally, there are already methods you can put in place to reduce waste in modern CNC machining. But by far the best and most effective method of all is to nip the waste production in the bud.

Sophisticated CAD and CAM models can present you with the most efficient path to item manufacturing. They will show you the tool path, the simulation presentation creation, the cycle times, and, most importantly, the analysis of possible part deviation. In other words, not only will you see how you can reduce waste, but you can also anticipate potential problems and malfunctions before they appear.

Granular Control Over Projects

The best thing that CAD and CAM software offer is an increased level of control over what you can do. For instance, once you’re finished with a project, you can store or reuse its templates at a later date. Furthermore, you can easily reorder sequences and copy-paste the necessary operations.

In addition, you and your colleagues can exchange the data in real-time and make additional changes as you go along. None of that would have been possible to do a mere fifty years ago with analog tools. All you require is the proper simulation software that accepts modern CAD and CAM models and integrates them easily.

Time and Cost Efficiency

Since its early development, CAD has been making various industries go smoother and faster than ever before. The project turnover has rapidly increased. Manufacturers can now get their prototypes out to customers in months, sometimes even weeks. And with the current technological boom, we can expect this trend to stay afloat for many decades to come.

Computer-Aided Design & Computer-Aided Manufacturing: Final Thoughts

Automation is the future, and both CAD and CAM software are growing alongside the industries they’re helping out. Hopefully, this article has shown you just how vital both are to modern manufacturing. Granted, neither of them is perfect, but the results of using them really speak for themselves.

* This article is written by guest author Tom Schwarzweller, an Account Executive for Microsol Resources. Tom has a long background in selling and supporting CAD and BIM software to the architectural, engineering, and construction industry. He has worked with many of the early adopters of building information modeling (BIM) and has learned the benefits that BIM can create and an understanding of what makes a BIM implementation successful. His many interests include sailing, photography, and biking.

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Production involves different processes that run concurrently or independently, with operators and technicians handling several tasks at one go. They monitor the working conditions of machinery and the quality of products. As such, plant floors are ever busy, making safety a priority for companies. They establish and enforce safety regulations to enhance the consistency of processes, eliminate workplace injuries and minimize breakdowns.

Human error is among the leading causes of plant floor accidents leading to workplace injuries, equipment and product damage, pollution (non-compliance) and death. Human errors may arise from fatigue, slips and lapses, psychological stress, technical mistakes, or violation of safety regulations. Reducing human error and accidents on the plant floor goes beyond establishing a safety mindset among employees. Below are tips for reducing human errors and accidents on the plant floor.

1. Automate processes

There are several automation technologies for improving the consistency and accuracy of processes while minimizing human intervention. They range from basic control systems for starting, sequencing and stopping production to complex robots with artificial intelligence which perform repetitive tasks without fatigue. Conveyors and autonomous mobile robots replace forklifts for material handling, transporting large loads. Advanced robots have visual guides to enable them to navigate obstacles, thereby reducing plant floor collisions.

Automation systems are programmed to perform tasks following specific procedures, leaving no room for errors. They are equipped with automatic safety switches to stop processes when production conditions are violated. Automation reduces operator exposure to moving equipment parts and improves material handling.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are platforms for automating maintenance workflows. Companies upload equipment safety information, manuals and standard checklists that outline maintenance activities and intervals. Technicians navigate CMMS programs on mobile devices, allowing them to access accurate maintenance information promptly. CMMS solutions reduce maintenance mistakes and standardize operations, guaranteeing uniformity.

2. Develop standard operating procedures

The human factor in production means that individuals may skip or modify procedures to complete tasks faster. In some cases, the company provides mismatched safety and operational policies, breeding confusion during implementation. The incoherence of policies and ambiguity of procedures lead to more errors, more accidents and frequent production stops.

Companies need to compile all procedures in a single document, providing detailed instruction for accomplishing each task on the production floor. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) increase the consistency of floor operations while leaving little or no room for errors. These documents use straightforward language to outline step-by-step guidelines, reducing the misinterpretation of policies.

Technicians de-energize production equipment when performing routine or emergency maintenance. To protect technicians and equipment, companies use equipment-specific lockout tagout (LOTO) procedures. They outline how to shut down processes, block energy sources during maintenance, tag equipment under repairs, startup procedures after maintenance and authorization protocols. In case of a technical mistake or unplanned re-energization of the system, lockout devices block the hazardous energy and signal technicians of impending danger. They halt the repair process and resume once they remove the hazard.

3. Audit facilities and perform conclusive root cause analysis

Equipment design and plant floor layout contribute to accidents. Proper arrangement of production equipment facilitates seamless continuity of processes while enhancing the safety of employees. When designing plant floor equipment, companies should consider ergonometrics. Equipment should be sized appropriately, fitted with protective safety guards and emergency switches. The plant floor should have adequate lighting, clearly marked walkways and visible safety signs.

Frequent facility audits enable companies to identify flaws on the production floor that escalate human errors. They inspect all machinery, check maintenance records and verify compliance of processes to internal and statutory regulations. Through facility audits, companies identify accidents that occur frequently and their causes. Insights from these audits facilitate future optimization plans, focusing on minimizing the impact of human errors in the production process.

Facilities may fail to investigate minor accidents since some operators or technicians underreport or disregard them. However, it is prudent that companies develop an accident reporting format that captures any incident irrespective of its magnitude. Accident reports enable companies to perform conclusive root cause analysis for the elimination of inherent hazards. Results of root cause analysis can be used to tailor safety training.

4. Conduct extensive staff training

Hiring a pool of skilled employees is not sufficient surety that human errors and accidents will happen. Over time, plant floor operations overwhelm the employees as they struggle to hit production targets amid other personal distractions. Companies upgrade machinery and adopt newer technologies as they strive to improve productivity and enhance compliance. Staff training is a continuous process that companies utilize to strengthen the technical capabilities of staff, introduce and explain safety policy changes and the consequences of non-compliance.

Through on-the-job maintenance training programs, technicians gain invaluable skills in troubleshooting and correcting equipment defects within a short time without errors. Technicians become aware of the safety procedures and understand how to exploit technological tools and protective equipment to eradicate plant floor accidents. Companies use training programs to equip operators with fundamental machinery diagnosis and care skills for identifying and correcting minor errors independently.

Final Thoughts

Reducing human errors on the plant floor is a collective responsibility that requires proactive action by staff and the management. The company provides correct work tools, trains staff, and guarantees the safety of facilities. Employees should follow safety regulations, report defects and accidents, use machinery correctly and adhere to standard operating procedures.

*This article is written by Bryan Christiansen. Bryan is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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