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Digital Transformation in Manufacturing


Digitalization (also referred to as Digital manufacturing) is the use of an integrated, computer-based system comprised of simulation, 3D visualization, analytics and collaboration tools to create product and manufacturing process definitions simultaneously. This is often referred to as a ‘Smart Factory’ or 'Industry 4.0'.

Digital manufacturing evolved from many of the manufacturing initiatives that are being used by most manufacturers today to run more efficient shops. This includes such staples in manufacturing as ERP systems, Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs), CNC machine controllers (computers built into manufacturing machinery), and DNC Networks (to distribute engineering process changes to specific shop floor machines). Each of these examples represent collaborative product and process designs (incorporating technology with manufacturing). This alignment allows manufacturing companies to achieve time-to-market and volume goals, as well as realize cost savings by reducing expensive downstream changes. The above examples are also referred to as ‘industry 3.0’ (the introduction of computers to manufacturing), which changed the industry when this first happened, many years ago.

As a result of this same alignment (Technology & Manufacturing) ‘Industry 4.0’ has been established. It involves ‘smart machines’ and eventually, once fully deployed, establishing a ‘smart factory’. Once again, technology is changing the face of manufacturing, streamlining processes, reducing reliance on human interaction to reduce human error as well as the cost of production.  The manufacturers who adopt these new technologies early will develop a clear advantage over their competitors, as a result, forward-thinking manufacturing leaders have already been incorporating these updates, to establish a more efficient factory, capable of producing more with the same number of manufacturing machines, at a lower cost and with less quality faults.

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