The “Digital Thread” identifies the flow of information across the lifecycle of design and manufacturing, going beyond information simply flowing from design to manufacturing, to true bi-directional communication across design and manufacturing. Implementing the Digital Thread in a manufacturing enterprise can radically increase the velocity of NPI by improving how engineering changes are communicated along the product value chain.
The starting place for most manufacturers on their journey to implement the Digital Thread is in integrating machine data with CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) tools. Machine data can provide insight into how the parts were actually machined, and bringing this into CAM can provide feedback on actuals to improve the design process, ultimately closing the gap between design and manufacturing, and increasing the speed of product release cycles.
However, enterprises have not been able to do this because CAM tools do not have the ability to consume information directly from the machines making the part. Moreover, it is not adequate to just get information from machines, the CAM tools also need to get information from the skilled operators running the machines, to ensure that their feedback and knowledge is also captured. Thus, most manufacturers are forced to rely on manual means of relaying information back and forth between design and manufacturing that can introduce errors and further delays.
VIMANA Elevate solves this problem by providing advanced analytics on the execution of the manufacturing process – contextualized with information from skilled engineers and operators who were executing the process – back to CAM tools, which can then apply this information in making design improvements. VIMANA Elevate not only analyzes the efficiency of the part’s production (including cycle times), but also analyzes process parameters, tooling usage, tool cycle times, and cutting loads, building detailed AI-powered models capturing how the part was manufactured. This information is made available to CAM tools via VIMANA Elevate’s APIs, which provide contextualized data and detailed analytics. As the CAM tools improve the manufacturing process, VIMANA Elevate can be applied in validating the design improvements, providing realtime feedback to designers on the effectiveness of their changes, ensuring that they are moving in the right direction.
VIMANA Elevate is enabling technology for the Digital Thread, reducing the time taken to introduce new products to market, and increasing the reliability and effectiveness of communications across the product value chain through automation and analytics. VIMANA Elevate not only captures how the machines were applied in making the part, but also on how engineers and operators came together to make decisions to manufacture the part, building enterprises valuable repositories of this most valuable tribal knowledge.