What is Computer-Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) ?

Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), as the name suggests, integrates the software and hardware needed for computer graphics, computer-aided modeling, and computer-aided design and manufacturing activities, from initial product concept through its production and distribution in the marketplace. This comprehensive and integrated approach began in the 1970s and has been particularly effective because of its capability of making possible the following tasks:
  • Responsiveness to rapid changes in product design modifications and to varying market demands.
  • Better use of materials, machinery, and personnel.
  • Reduction in inventory.
  • Better control of production and management of the total manufacturing operation.

The following is a brief outline of the various elements in CIM :-

1. Computer numerical control (CNC) :- First implemented in the early 195Os, this is a method of controlling the movements of machine components by the direct insertion of coded instructions in the form of numerical data.

2. Adaptive control (AC) :- The processing parameters in an operation are automatically adjusted to optimize the production rate and product quality and to minimize manufacturing cost. For example, machining forces, temperature,surface finish, and the dimensions of the part can be constantly monitored; if they move outside the specified range, the system adjusts the appropriate variables until the parameters are within the specified range. 

3.Industrial robots :- Introduced in the early 1960s, industrial robots have rapidly been replacing humans, especially in operations that are repetitive, dangerous, and boring. As a result, variability in product quality is decreased and productivity improved. Robots are particularly effective in assembly operations, and some (intelligent robots) have been developed with sensory-perception capabilities and movements that simulate those of humans.

4.Automated materials handling :- Computers have made possible highly efficient handling of materials and components in various stages of completion (work in progress), as in moving a part from one machine to another, and then to points of inspection, to inventory, and finally, to shipment.

5. Automated assembly systems :- These systems continue to be developed to replace assembly by human operators, although humans still have to perform some operations. Assembly costs can be
high, depending on the type of product; consequently, products are now being designed so that they can be assembled more easily, and faster by automated machinery, thus reducing the total manufacturing cost.

6.Computer-aided process planning (CAPP) :- By optimizing process planning, this system is capable of improving productivity, product quality, and consistency and hence reducing costs. Functions such
as cost estimating and monitoring work standards (time required to perform a certain operation) are also incorporated into the system.

7.Group technology (GT) :- The concept behind group technology is that parts can be grouped and produced by classifying them into families according to similarities in design and the manufacturing processes employed to produce them. In this way, part designs and process plans can be standardized
and new parts (based on similar parts made previously) can be produced efficiently and

8.Just-in-time production (JIT) :- The principle behind JIT is that (1) supplies of raw materials and parts are delivered to the manufacturer just in time to be used, (2) parts and components are produced just in time to be made into subassemblies, and (3) products are assembled and finished just in time to be delivered to the customer. As a result, inventory carrying costs are low, defects in components are detected right away, productivity is increased, and high-quality products are made at low cost.

9.Cellular manufacturing (CM) :- This system utilizes workstations that consist of a number of manufacturing cells, each containing various production machines controlled by a central robot, with each machine performing a different operation on the part, including inspection.

10.Flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) :-  These systems integrate manufacturing cells into a large production facility, with all of the cells interfaced with a central computer. Although very costly, flexible manufacturing systems are capable of producing parts efficiently, but in relatively small quantities, and of quickly changing manufacturing sequences required for different parts. Flexibility enables these systems to meet rapid changes in market demand for all types of products.

11.Expert systems (ES) :- Consisting basically of complex computer programs, these systems have the capability of performing various tasks and solving difficult real-life problems, much as human experts would, including expediting the traditional iterative process in design optimization.

12.Artificial intelligence (AI) :- Computer-controlled systems are now capable of learning from experience and of making decisions that optimize operations and minimize costs, ultimately replacing human intelligence.

13.Artificial neural networks (ANN) :- These networks are designed to simulate the thought processes of the human brain, with such capabilities as modeling and simulating production facilities, monitoring and controlling manufacturing processes, diagnosing problems in machine performance, and conducting financial planning and managing a company's manufacturing strategy.

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