B Kindilien-The Digital Age of Manufacturing


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Making modeling and simulation make sense to manufacturers: You’ve seen the video games young people play: Computer-generated environments with rich three dimensional (3D) visuals and hardware with force feedback, touch-sensitive game controllers, and head-mounted displays that give the gamer a nearly (virtual) exact contextual representation of the world (reality) we live in. Think these tools are child’s play? The National Aerospace Leadership Initiative’s (NALI) modeling and simulation team wants you to think again.

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B Kindilien-The Digital Age of Manufacturing

  1. 1. The Digital Age of Manufacturing Making modeling and simulation make sense to manufacturers You’ve seen the video games young people play: Computer-generated environments with rich three dimensional (3D) visuals and hardware with force feedback, touch-sensitive game controllers, and head-mounted displays that give the gamer a nearly (virtual) exact contextual representation of the world (reality) we live in. Think these tools are child’s play? The National Aerospace Leadership Initiative’s (NALI) modeling and simulation team wants you to think again. Read the rest of this article…
  2. 2. The Digital Age of Manufacturing Making modeling and simulation make sense to manufacturers By Brian Kindilien, CCAT Modeling & Simulation Program (bkindilien@ccat.us) You’ve seen the video games young people play: Computer- generated environments with rich three dimensional (3D) visuals and hardware with force feedback, touch-sensitive game controllers, and head-mounted displays that give the gamer a nearly (virtual) exact contextual representation of the world (reality) we live in. Think these tools are child’s play? The National Aerospace Leadership Initiative’s (NALI) modeling and simulation team wants you to think again. Virtual reality in the realm of manufacturing is what the modeling and simulation people at NALI are all about. It’s just one of the tools they employ to help fortify the U.S. manufacturing supply chain. Using digital tools to help suppliers handle complex part designs more efficiently, define detailed assembly procedures, test machining strategies in a virtual environment, conduct inspections virtually, and even lay out their factories for maximum process flow are some of the applications the NALI modeling and simulation group use in their pursuit of employing digital manufacturing in the supply chain. Modeling and Simulation Key to U.S. Air Force Program Defining a Competitive Advantage Product, Process, and Resource Process Design, Validation, and Documentation Reducing Machine Cycle Times Proving Out Processes Before You Invest Can Your Company Benefit? Manufacturing Process: All Too Common Manufacturing Process: Much Improved Manufacturing Process: Game Changing What’s Next? Working with CCAT Contact Us Companies, programs, schools, and products referred to in this article
  3. 3. Modeling and Simulation Key to U.S. Air Force Program Manufacturers know about computer-aided design (CAD): Parts, assemblies, and other design information come into their facilities in the form of data to be interpreted, converted, and otherwise manipulated as the first step in the digital manufacturing process. Manufacturers know about computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) too: Those same parts are manipulated further to make them machinable. Roughing, finishing, turning, stamping, punching, drilling operations comprise the myriad destinations for digital data to become physical product. NALI, a program comprising a consortium of companies from around the U.S. and administered by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) in East Hartford, CT, is about promoting the use of modeling and simulation to ensure the global competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing supply chain. It fosters innovation and accelerates the transition of new technologies, like digital manufacturing, for competitive advantage. NALI is forming industrial and academic teams to attack key needs of the U.S. Air Force (one of the key sponsors of the NALI program, the other being the U.S. Congress) in manufacturing, advanced product development, and education. Return to Main Page
  4. 4. Defining a Competitive Advantage At CCAT’s Innovation Center in East Hartford, CT, the modeling and simulation team has installed and integrated some technologies to demonstrate the striking value of digital manufacturing to the manufacturing supply chain. Literally the biggest splash they’ve made to demonstrate digital manufacturing is the installation of the 16 x 9 foot 3D theater. Tom Scotton, CCAT’s NALI Modeling and Simulation Manager, notes that the theater is a device to make the viewing of 3D components like parts, assemblies, and processes more realistic. “3D models are becoming commonplace in manufacturing, but the ability to manipulate those models in a true 3D visual environment is relatively unique. We invite suppliers to talk to us about this technology. Their manufacturing capabilities could evolve significantly in the sense that better, more realistic visualization using our 3D facilities might mean that they develop opportunities for collaboration, prepare streamline assembly sequences, optimize complex machining approaches, or develop a virtual reality training component.” A big 3D screen is only one example of the NALI modeling and simulation hardware transition. Portable 3D projectors for education, head-mounted displays, and sensor studded gloves and body suits create fully immersive virtual environments to bring digital manufacturing to the supply chain. Says Scotton: “We’ll be bringing this equipment to manufacturers, to schools, to manufacturing events… all as part of a larger effort to keep the U.S. manufacturing supply chain at the laser’s edge of competitive advantage.” Return to Main Page
  5. 5. Product, Process, and Resource Hardware aside, digital manufacturing is all about doing things in virtual space. Why test your NC program by cutting material on your horizontal machining center with your hand poised for an emergency stop, when you can simulate the cutting process in a software environment? Why move machines around your factory floor to gain optimal efficiency when you can define your machines, people, and factory floor space in a virtual world, move them around, and simulate their processes to validate intelligent equipment movement? In the NALI modeling and simulation program, the applications used in virtual space are part of a product lifecycle management (PLM) approach to manufacturing that facilitates product, process, and resource tools to develop, manufacture, and produce parts and assemblies. These tools are all components of digital manufacturing. The modeling and simulation specialists at CCAT define digital manufacturing as a sequence of manufacturing stages with appropriate virtual applications. The sequence of digital manufacturing goes like this: 3D Product Design: The design and creation of 3D products and their parts for manufacture. Tools used in this arena include CAD systems, PLM technologies, etc. Assembly Sequence: Software to aide the creation of complex assembly descriptions. Documentation is key in this field, and defining the construction of complex assemblies can be done in a completely virtual medium. Ergonomics: Testing the impact on humans who interface in the manufacturing environment as they operate machines, move through the factory environment, conduct overhaul and repair actions, etc. Robotics: Managing the complexities of robotic interfaces in the manufacturing environment is made easier through the use of simulators that allow manufacturers to visualize robotic operations, interactions, and sequences. Machining: Simulating the machining environment by rendering 3D parts, the machines they will be processed on and testing their machining processes is a key component to validation before physical machining takes place. The capability of physics-based machining process modeling shows substantial improvements in machining times. Inspection: Ensuring that parts meet quality requirements and that those requirements remain consistent and measurable is critical to optimizing factory capabilities. Measurement devices and processes are fully modeled in this environment. Factory Simulation: Defining the layout of the factory, specifying the machines and their processes, describing the human interactions with the machines and equipment within the factory can give you a realistic sense of the viability of your production capabilities, well before you accept an order. Play virtual “what if” scenarios, organize factories based on lean principles, and develop risk assessments in the environment of this technology. Return to Main Page
  6. 6. Process Design, Validation, and Documentation 3D Product Design Assembly Sequence Ergonomics Machining Machining Robotics Inspection Factory Simulation Return to Main Page
  7. 7. Reducing Machine Cycle Times Don’t for a moment think that the modeling and simulation practices described here in the digital manufacturing environment are elements of some future view. They’re here, now. Manufacturers in the supply chain, schools (at all levels), and companies like CCAT are using them, with great results. One project for a supply chain manufacturer in Connecticut encompasses a roughing machining process for the aerospace industry. The supplier engaged NALI’s modeling and simulation team to see if they could reduce their roughing times in any significant manner. The team applied machining process analysis software to determine feeds and speeds that resulted in a 10-50% (depending on application) decrease in roughing cycle times. Dr. Anthony Dennis, a CCAT technology specialist, described the results as encouraging: “Using physics-based machining process modeling software and people from United Technologies Research Center and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Hartford, we not only proved the viability of the software but provided remarkable improvements in the machining efficiency of the supplier.” The modeling products used, Third Wave Systems’ AdvantEdge™ and Manufacturing Automation Laboratories (MAL), Inc.’s CUTPRO®, are significant tools in the CCAT kit, tools which the NALI modeling and simulation team is eager to apply to other manufacturing challenges that suppliers are facing. Return to Main Page
  8. 8. Proving Out Processes Before You Invest Another example of projects that the NALI modeling and simulation group are undertaking to help the manufacturing supply chain include modeling a small part assembly cell that an aerospace supplier needs to prove the technology considered for employment before the company makes the investment in the equipment and practices. Using software technology from Dassault Systèmes’ DELMIA Automation, this effort simulated the production cell and modeled its throughput capacity for a known production period. Jonathan Fournier, Applications Engineer in CCAT’s modeling and simulation department, argued the advantages of process modeling: “Suppliers are finding that CCAT’s work under the NALI program can help them in ways they never imagined. By laying out their factory floor or manufacturing cell, defining the equipment they use or plan to use, and running simulations on their manufacturing process, companies are seeing that the hard work of process definition pays off in gaining new efficiencies or testing return on potential investments.” Return to Main Page
  9. 9. Can Your Company Benefit? Realizing you might have a problem is the first step to recovery, but what’s the first step to realizing you have a problem? In the case of digital manufacturing, that step is finding time to evaluate your manufacturing processes. Return to Main Page Manufacturing Process: All Too Common Many suppliers follow steps like these: Design of parts and assemblies using PLM technology (an element of which is CAD software) is conducted by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The supplier wins a contract to manufacture the particular part and/or assembly. The supplier requests and receives blueprints from the OEM. The supplier’s engineers and programmers go to work on the prints creating a digital part that can be machined. The part is sometimes passed through an offline CAM software product or sometimes programmed directly on a machine tool controller. The resulting collection of G codes, called an NC program is downloaded to the machine tool and cut, turned, ground, drilled, punched, pressed, or whatever. Design Problem: NC Code is perhaps not as efficient as it could be Request NC Code #1 Drawings Generate NC code SolidWorks Mastercam Download NC AutoCAD code Others Others 2D CAD Others Problem: Many suppliers still have not embraced utilization of CAD importing from customer So what’s wrong with this process? Nothing, if you don’t worry about global competition for the same parts, if your OEM isn’t concerned about increasingly demanding quality and safety measurement standards, or if your company isn’t concerned about measuring profitability until after it starts producing product. But that’s probably not realistic for most suppliers today. Return to Main Page
  10. 10. Manufacturing Process: Much Improved CCAT’s modeling and simulation team might be able to help your company realize a more efficient and measurable approach to supply chain manufacturing. Take the process in the previous paragraph as an example: Rather than the initial disconnect between the OEM and supplier, design data is transmitted seamlessly between CAD and CAM software. The CAM tool generates NC data, which is then passed into technology that can validate the manufacturing process, verifying NC data with the machine. The data then moves to a machining process analysis tool which will recommend more efficient speeds and feeds back to the CAM software tool. The process can be cycled through until best results are attained. The resultant NC data can be fed to the machine, the part machined, and measurement devices can inspect it for quality measurements. Design Challenge: Multiple copies of NC program to track Generate NC NC Code #1 code NC Code #1 Validate Improved Process UGS NC Code #2 Analysis of CATIA Process SolidWorks AutoCAD Download NC UGS–CAM Others code CATIA-CAM Mastercam Vericut Others DELMIA Others TWS CutPro Challenge: Additional effort to GrindSim analyze processes, with Others another piece of software CCAT can also help if you’re planning on making process improvements to your factory layout, testing the feasibility of a manufacturing cell, or implementing lean concepts in your manufacturing. Evaluating production capacities based on facility plans, resource utilization, staffing. Planning assembly sequences for greater efficiency is also a key area for improvement using modeling and simulation. Return to Main Page
  11. 11. Manufacturing Process: Game Changing The CCAT modeling and simulation team also envisions what manager Scotton calls “game changing” scenarios in the machining process and in the factory floor modeling process. Says Scotton: “It’s not enough that we in the NALI program know how to use these modeling and simulation tools. Technology transition is a key component to our efforts so making the tools more accessible by the supply chain is critical too.” Enabling connections and interfaces to previously compartmentalized machining products is one approach. Developing easy to use data input devices for complex software tools is another. The case scenarios described here have added an additional step to the creation of the NC program with the CAM software solution and also requires that the manufacturer maintains two NC programs for each machined part. For this reason, the modeling and simulation group is embarking on a new game changing approach: It will take the analysis step at the end of the process and interface it directly with the CAM solution, so that the first NC program being created has already been force balanced. Matthew Lloyd, Applications Engineer on the CCAT modeling and simulation team states that: “This improved scenario results in a shorter cycle time for cutting parts and eliminates the need for maintaining multiple ‘optimized’ programs. The supplier will be afforded two tremendous benefits: Access to highly advanced machining process analysis technology and integration into the CAD/CAM technology the supplier is already familiar with.” Design Generate Improved Improved NC Advantage: Only one NC Code #1 code version of NC program to track Validate Process UGS Download NC CATIA code SolidWorks AutoCAD Others Vericut DELMIA Mastercam Others UGS CATIA Others Advantage: Minimal additional effort to analyze processes included in the CAM process Return to Main Page
  12. 12. What’s Next? The scenarios don’t end there either. The modeling and simulation people at CCAT are investigating even bigger efficiencies in the future. Notes Brian Kindilien, Modeling and Simulation Technical Specialist: “CCAT and the NALI program are taking the idea of digital manufacturing game changing and technology transfer to the next level. The possibilities for technology to effect machine efficiencies are limitless. We are looking at the progress of STEP-NC, as one example, a worldwide standard developed by the International Standards Organization that evolves STEP to define data for NC machines, resulting in potentially huge reductions in data preparation, machining set up, and machine cycle times.” Arguably the most important contribution that can be made to fortifying the supply chain is education. Getting children interested in careers in manufacturing; teaching advanced modeling and simulation technologies in high school, vocational technical schools, community colleges, and in engineering manufacturing programs; and spreading the word to educators at all levels is key to keeping the U.S. manufacturing sector globally competitive. CCAT’s modeling and simulation group is using the NALI program to show people in manufacturing how effective the virtual reality world can be, something today’s children already know. Return to Main Page
  13. 13. Working with CCAT CCAT’s modeling and simulation program is a growing and evolving effort to fortify the U.S. manufacturing supply chain with help from the government, industry, and academia. There is significant demand for the services of the modeling and simulation program at this time, but our organization may be able to work with your company to achieve this goal. If you are interested in learning more, contact us as shown below. Return to Main Page
  14. 14. Contact Us For information on working with us, contact: Tom Scotton Manager, Modeling and Simulation Program National Aerospace Leadership Initiative (NALI) Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc. (CCAT) 409 Silver Lane, Suite 1 East Hartford, CT 06118 Office phone: 860-610-0478 Fax: 860-610-0728 Email: tscotton@ccat.us Web: www.usnali.org www.ccat.us Return to Main Page
  15. 15. Companies, programs, schools, and products referred to in this article: The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT): www.ccat.us The National Aerospace Leadership Initiative (NALI): www.usnali.org United Technologies Research Center (UTRC): utrcwww.utc.com Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Hartford: www.rpi.edu/academics/hartford/rah.html www.rh.edu/~ernesto/F2005/MAMS/ Third Wave Systems’ AdvantEdge™ products: www.thirdwavesys.com Manufacturing Automation Laboratories (MAL), Inc.’s CUTPRO® products: www.malinc.com Dassault Systèmes’ DELMIA Automation products: www.delmia.com Return to Main Page