Leveraging the Digital Factory


Leveraging the Digital Factory: Enhancing Productivity from Operator to Enterprise provides visibility to the way manufacturers utilize Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) processes and solutions to help reduce cost, speed time to market, and improve product quality. The paper features interviews from companies that are leveraging MPM to digitally prototype plant layouts, material flow, production lines, workstations, and work assignments to perfect plans before committing to physical changes – resulting in efficient plants and processes that work the first time. MPM, also known as Digital Manufacturing, is an important element of any PLM strategy.

Please enjoy the free Executive Summary below, or click the report title above to download the full PDF (free of charge, no registration required). Special thanks to Proplanner and Autodesk for their support and for providing introductions to their customers. The interviews provide real-world examples for other manufacturers as they develop their own MPM and PLM strategies.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview
  • Leveraging the Digital Factory
  • The Bill of Process – Putting Manufacturing Processes First
  • Laying out the Perfect Plant
  • Optimizing the Lines
  • Optimizing Workcells
  • Material Flow at the Workcell Level
  • Communicating with the Plant (Work Instructions)
  • Pulling it All Together (Integration and Associativity)
  • Getting to MPM
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendations
  • About the Author

Executive Overview

The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once means taking the time to do things right the first time in order to save time (and money). This is more true in manufacturing today than ever given intense global competition and the need to keep costs in check in an uncertain economy. In this case, “measuring” is developing, prototyping, and validating manufacturing plans before “cutting,” or putting in place new plants, lines, tooling, or processes which cost time and money. Like cutting a piece of wood, once new manufacturing equipment and infrastructure are in place the opportunities to correct a mistake can be severely limited. The analog in manufacturing – known as “Manufacturing Processes Management” or “MPM” – is to digitally prototype plant layouts, material flow, production lines, workstations, and work assignments to perfect plans before committing to physical changes.

As Bill Campbell, Global Manufacturing Plant Layout Lead Engineer for General Motors explains, “We execute a ‘virtual validation build’ to catch potential problems in a virtual environment. It really helps to validate plant layout, robotics, and conveyor lines virtually before committing to construction. MPM is one of the biggest enablers in reducing structural cost, but also helps to improve time to market and drive quality up.” Manufacturers are leveraging MPM to improve both the productivity and performance of their manufacturing process planning, resulting in significant cost savings that are extremely compelling to manufacturers of all types.

MPM tools provide facility engineers, industrial engineers, and manufacturing engineers the tools they need to design and implement optimal manufacturing processes. MPM is becoming a critical element of initiatives designed to improve product innovation and engineering by improving the productivity of manufacturing engineers as well as manufacturing itself. The results speak for themselves. “The net result of our MPM program was a double digit improvement in productivity, it was absolutely astounding,” said Pat Frey, Vice President Production Control and Logistics for Android. “Over the top outstanding,” he added.