Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) explained


Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) is a manufacturing method that employs computers to control the entire manufacturing process. Individual processes can exchange information and initiate actions thanks to this integration. Although computer-integration can make manufacturing faster and less error-prone, the main benefit is the creation of automated manufacturing processes. CIM typically employs closed-loop control processes based on real-time sensor input. It’s also referred to as flexible design and manufacturing.

The automotive, aviation, space, and shipbuilding industries use computer-integrated manufacturing. The term “computer-integrated manufacturing” refers to both a manufacturing method and the name of a computer-automated system that organizes a manufacturing enterprise’s engineering, production, marketing, and support functions. Design, analysis, planning, purchasing, cost accounting, inventory control, and distribution are linked through the computer with factory floor functions such as materials handling and management in a CIM system, providing direct control and monitoring of all operations.

CIM Hardware comprises the following:

  1. Manufacturing equipment such as CNC machines or computerized work centers, robotic work cells, DNC/FMS systems, work handling and tool handling devices, storage devices, sensors, shop floor data collection devices, inspection machines, etc.
  2. Computers, controllers, CAD/CAM systems, workstations/terminals, data entry terminals, bar code readers, printers, plotters, other peripheral devices, modems, cables, connectors, etc.

The nine major elements of a CIM system

i. Marketing: The marketing division determines the need for a product. The marketing department also determines the product’s specifications, manufacturing quantity projections, and marketing strategy. Marketing also calculates manufacturing costs to determine the product’s economic viability.

ii. Product Design: The design department of a company creates the initial database for the production of a proposed product. This is accomplished in a CIM system through geometric modeling and computer-aided design while considering the product requirements and concepts generated by the design engineer’s creativity. Many designs rely heavily on configuration management. Complex designs are typically carried out by multiple teams working concurrently, often in different parts of the world. The design process is limited by actual production costs and the capabilities of available production equipment and processes. The database required to manufacture the part is created during the design process.

iii. Planning: The planning department uses the design department’s database and enriches it with production data and information to create a production plan for the product. Materials, facility, process, tools, manpower, capacity, scheduling, outsourcing, assembly, inspection, logistics, and other subsystems are all part of the planning process. This planning process in a CIM system should be constrained by production costs, equipment, and process capability to generate an optimized plan.

iv. Purchase: The purchase department is in charge of placing purchase orders and following upon them, as well as ensuring quality in the vendor’s production process, receiving the items, arranging for inspection, and supplying the items to stores or arranging timely delivery based on the production schedule for eventual supply to manufacture and assembly.

v. Manufacturing Engineering: Manufacturing Engineering is the activity of carrying out product production, which includes further enriching the database with performance data and information about production equipment and processes. This entails activities such as CNC programming, simulation, and computer-aided production scheduling in CIM. To ensure continuous production activity, this should include online dynamic scheduling and control based on the real-time performance of the equipment and processes. The manufacturing system must frequently be flexible and agile to meet fluctuating market demand.

vi. Factory Automation Hardware: Factory automation equipment adds to the database by storing equipment and processing data in the operator or the equipment used to carry out the manufacturing process. The computer-controlled process machinery in the CIM system includes CNC machine tools, flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), computer-controlled robots, material handling systems, computer-controlled assembly systems, flexibly automated inspection systems, and so on.

vii. Warehousing: Warehousing is the function of storing and retrieving raw materials, components, and finished goods, as well as shipping items. Logistics and supply chain management is critical in today’s complex outsourcing scenario, as is the need for just-in-time component and subsystem supply.

viii. Finance: Finance is concerned with financial resources. Finance departments’ primary responsibilities include investment planning, working capital management, cash flow control, receipts accounting, and fund allocation.

ix. Information Management: One of the most important tasks in CIM is probably information management. Master production scheduling, database management, communication, manufacturing system integration, and management information systems are all part of this.

Advantages of CIM

  • Error Reduction: The error rate is drastically reduced by eliminating human error in many assignment and reporting functions on factory floor operations.
  • Speed: CIM environments shorten the time required for manufacturing fabrication and assembly, allowing for faster product flow to customers and increased capacity.
  • Flexibility: With CIM, businesses can respond quickly to market conditions and then return to previous settings when market conditions change.
  • Integration: CIM provides integration that allows for the flexibility, speed, and error reduction needed to compete and lead markets. Employees can perform higher-value functions for their companies when factory floor operations are integrated with enterprise software.