Engineers can utilize digital manufacturing software to create a digital twin—essentially a virtual prototype or replica—instead of utilizing materials such as foam or metal to create a physical one.

FREMONT, CA: Industry 4.0—the next wave of manufacturing—is powered by connectivity. Digital manufacturing is the key to this connectivity.

What is digital manufacturing?

Digital manufacturing uses computer systems to integrate data from different manufacturing processes. It relies on digital technologies such as 3D modelling, simulation and analytics to improve production, supply chains and other manufacturing-related areas, with the aim of becoming more agile to save money and respond to market conditions. Digital manufacturing is particularly applicable to the design of products, the creation of smart factories and the optimization of the value chain.

Instead of relying on physical processes, firms can turn to digital models. Here are three clear advantages of digital manufacturing.

Streamlines the lifecycle of the product

Engineers can utilize digital manufacturing software to create a digital twin—essentially a virtual prototype or replica—instead of utilizing materials such as foam or metal to create a physical one. They can then study the digital twin to decide how the conditions of the real world would affect the proposed design changes and, in turn, discover potential flaws.

Check Out: Top Manufacturing Intelligence Solution Companies

For example, a digital representation of a car engine may show that some components will wear out faster than others. Technicians can study their digital twins to find solutions to these issues.

Helps to optimize the value chain

The value chain can be difficult to improve. Digital manufacturing can help analyse the entire chain by focusing on data and integration. It also enables experimentation by digital means, so that there is less physical and financial risk.

One way this plays out is by optimising the design of the factory. Companies can use digital manufacturing software to create virtual representations of factory floor layouts as well as simulate manufacturing processes. Technicians can discover potential bottlenecks, and causes of waste or downtime, even before the factory is built.This ensures that the plant will run efficiently once it is operational. Technicians can also utilize digital representation to experiment with different production methods without spending money on infrastructure or retooling.