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Key to concurrent engineering.

Key to concurrent engineering

Computer software has become firmly entrenched as an underlying or supporting technology in the manufacturing industry," maintains Terry Dollhoff, Schlumberger CAD/CAM vice president of marketing. "There are very few machine tools or manufacturing systems that do not use computers in some fashion." He points out, for example, his BRAVO 3 software is used by more than 4500 firms worldwide.

However, he adds, companies are trying to further capitalize on the computer revolution and gain a competitive advantage through the concept of concurrent engineering (where design, testing, and manufacturing planning are done simultaneously).

Computer software is a crucial tool for implementation of the concurrent engineering philosophy. The key, however, is that the engineering and manufacturing software packages must work together smoothly to allow the process to work, he says, adding that the engineering and manufacturing organizations must also work together.

"Manufacturing systems must move beyond the islands of technology to become full partners in the enterprise," Mr Dollhoff says. "Manufacturing and machining processes must be developed early in the design cycle and then be refined when the design is complete."

The changing product-development environment is also impacting user's CAD/CAM requirements. "First, there is almost a preoccupation with speed. Everyone is looking for the newest Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) technology. In two years, performance of workstations used for the Schlumberger software has improved by a factor of 20," Mr Dollhoff claims. "This dramatic increase opens many new opportunities. Applications which would be impractical two years ago are now routine.

"Another major factor is open architecture. Users demand a system that can be integrated with systems from other vendors," Mr Dollhoff says.

At IMTS, Schlumberger will be showing DesktopBRAVO!, which incorporates the newest standard user interface specified by the Open Software Foundation, (OSF).

"Of course one cannot overlook application functionality. Users are moving beyond a comparison of application features to a method of evaluation based on the effectiveness of the software when applied to an entire task," Mr Dollhoff continues.

While all of the above are important in the selection of a CAD/CAM system, users must also be looking toward the future. Companies that successfully implement a concurrent engineering philosophy will become winners in the marketplace. "I have seen dramatic improvement in system performance and functionality in the last two years. In the future, computer systems will take a more active role in the design and manufacturing process. Artificial-intelligence technology is maturing, and systems are already being introduced in which the computer will make specific design decisions," Mr Dollhoff says.

Users are beginning to apply this technology in new and creative ways. For example, one Schlumberger CAD/CAM user, Lufkin, has automated part of the design process itself. The user requirements are entered with the incoming part order. CAD/CAM-based programs automatically translate this information into the required detailed prints, eliminating a previous manufacturing engineering bottleneck. The Schlumberger CAD/CAM software, called BRAVOMost, will automatically modify linkage designs based on user-defined goals and constraints.

"Computer participation in the design and manufacturing process will continue. Computers are particularly adept at tedious and mundane tasks. We can expect design systems that perform shape or weight optimization, i.e., reduce the weight of a part without changing its structural characteristics. We can also expect manufacturing systems that automatically select tooling, feed rates, and provide recommended machining plans. But, these systems do not replace designers or manufacturing engineers. They leverage their skills by automating the more tedious tasks," he adds.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR AT IMTS

Computer participation in the design and manufacturing process will continue. Look for dramatic improvements in system performance and functionality since the last show. Evaluate the potential integration of your own systems into the design system being offered.

PHOTO : Terry Dollhoff Vice President Marketing Schlumberger CAD/CAM Ann Arbor, MI
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Metalworking Product Guide; manufacturing system software
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Words:636
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