During major changes within a factory such as new model launches, facility upgrades, or process changes, many operator workstations are often impacted. As such, companies often need to assess the impacted workstations to see if they are still in compliance with internal company standards and governmental standards. These station assessments tend to happen after changes have been implemented in a facility. As such, if problems are found, employers have the choice of implementing costly engineering changes or less costly (and less effective) administrative controls and PPE. Can any of this be prevented? Enter digital manufacturing.
Digital manufacturing is a key component of the manufacturing/production process for many leading companies. It can be applied to any facility that includes manual workstations, robot stations, or co-bot stations. Industries that could benefit include vehicle manufacturing (automotive/aerospace/naval manufacturing), warehousing, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, electronics, plastics, textiles, and any other industries producing consumer goods. The process starts by creating 3D models of new or existing workstations, assembly lines or facilities in order to help plan for new products or processes. 3D models of existing workstations could be used as a starting. These 3D models can then be used to perform assessments based on upcoming changes to product, process, and the facility. For a complete understanding of the process at a workstation, companies may choose to add product CAD and/or digital human models to their workstation models to help perform assessments. It is highly recommended that an issue tracking system or matrix be used to track issues that are found during the digital manufacturing process.
Digital manufacturing taps into people’s need for visual representations to better understand new designs. Once developed, 3D models can be used to assess engineering, ergonomic, safety, error-proofing and cycle time factors (among others) that are key to a particular manufacturing facility. This allows for easy communication and can help to improve collaboration between stakeholders. This ease of communication helps to improve the accuracy of decisions related to design changes. 3D models also allow companies to take a more proactive approach to design new workstations and facilities by preventing issues before implementing the final design in a facility.
While this may sound like a costly endeavor for a small and medium size companies, it is important to keep in mind that the cost and time required to fix issues once a workstation or assembly line is built is exponentially higher than the cost to fix the same issues during the design phase. Aside from the high costs to fix issues after construction, the time required to fix these issues could impact other projects and it could delay the delivery of products to clients, resulting in loss of sales.
Early identification of issues is critical to implementing effective solutions at minimal cost. Digital manufacturing can therefore be used to identify issues early in the design phase and keep total project costs low.
Interested in learning more about digital manufacturing and how the Sandalwood Team can help? Contact us on LinkedIn or visit our website: https://sandalwood.com/