The application of engineering best practices and process optimization has been around for hundreds of years, however, the industrial revolution around the turn of the 19th century greatly increased the benefits that manufacturers could realize from implementing these practices. Engineers have vastly improved the efficiency of manufacturing processes, which are a major contributor to the global economy. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “manufacturing is also a key factor in creating a healthy economy both domestically and abroad by contributing about 10% to the U.S. economy each year, and plays a similarly important role in economies around the world.”
In general, manufacturing engineers are involved in creating and executing integrated systems to produce products that are of the highest quality while minimizing wasted time, energy, and resources. The goal is to find the most optimal way to design and create a product.
Engineering efforts have been used to improve many different aspects of the manufacturing process, including optimization of computer networks, use of robotics, and the design of machine tools and materials-handling equipment. Let’s take a minute to explore some of these areas and get a better understanding of how engineering plays a key role in them.
Machine tools and materials-handling equipment
Machine tools can be thought of as any sort of tool that comes into direct contact with the product as it is being created. This could include metal stamps, laser cutters, paint application systems, and more. Engineers leverage the knowledge of mechanical factors such as statics, dynamics, and material, fluid, or continuum mechanics to design products and production systems that are reliable, reproducible, and minimize the amount of materials, energy, and time needed to produce them.
Aside from cost savings, having a team of well trained, in-house engineers as part of the product design and manufacturing process can speed up time to delivery and make it easier to act on any changes you want to make to the product due to things like product updates, issues with design, or shifts in markets or supply chains.
Computer Integrated Manufacturing
Computer integrated manufacturing is one of the fastest-growing areas of manufacturing engineering today. It involves using highly complex computer systems to optimize different parts throughout the entire production process. Product design is greatly aided by the use of CAD drawings and nesting patterns to determine the best layout for components. Computers combined with advanced robotics are used to control laser cutting or metal stamping machines, allowing for precise cuts and molds that would otherwise be difficult to recreate. Finally, computer integrated manufacturing can help control errors within the production system by providing feedback to the system at certain junctions in the process and taking corrective action if something is amiss.
Advanced composite materials
Advanced composites are materials that have been manufactured for superior strength and elasticity properties. They have an extremely wide range of applications, to everything from football helmets to aerospace components. Industrial composites are created by using polyester, epoxy, and other resin systems to create reinforced materials in the manufacture of everyday objects like boats and cars. Advanced composites utilize more advanced resin systems to create materials used for the manufacture of things like aerospace components and high-performance sports equipment.
Flexible manufacturing systems
All the various disciplines in manufacturing engineering combine to create what’s known as a flexible manufacturing system. A flexible manufacturing system is designed to optimize the entire design and production process, right down to the way the machines are laid out on the factory floor. The goal is to consider as many variables as possible to automate as much of the process as possible, all while optimizing production time and product quality and minimizing any material or energy waste along the way.
The flexibility of the system can be broken into two main categories. Machine flexibility entails the ability to reconfigure the machines to produce new parts, or to produce parts in a different order. This helps the manufacturer reconfigure the system for new orders or to adapt to changing conditions. Routing flexibility is focused more on capacity. This allows the manufacturer to adapt to major changes in the volume of units being processed, often by using multiple machines to generate the same part.
Flexible manufacturing systems are designed to create fully automated production lines, with multiple feedback loops to ensure top-notch production quality. They are also designed to accommodate any changes you wish to introduce into the manufacturing process, minimizing the time and effort needed to configure the process to meet the new specifications.
Here at Integrated Manufacturing Solutions, we strive to stay on the cutting edge of manufacturing engineering technology. With expertise and passion for the industry, we’ve taken the time and effort to design a flexible manufacturing system that is ready to produce at the highest possible quality. Our skilled engineering team is equipped to manage an entire sheet metal fabrication process, from laser cutting to assembly to final delivery.
We believe IMS is fabricating the only way a company can if it wants to be around for the long-term, high quality, quick turnaround, strategic labor, and smart operations. For every job we put under contract, we promise to use the highest quality production machines along with input from our team of skilled engineers to create your products. Our systems are designed to be configured to quickly begin production on your parts while being built with the flexibility to make changes as needed.
By combining the power of our all in-house flexible production system with our multitude of options for manufacturing style, paint application types and colors, kitting and storage, and deliveries, we give you the advantage you need to stay on top of your production schedules.