2. Integrated and Automated Manufacturing Systems


Integrated manufacturing uses computers to connect physically separated processes. When integrated, the processes can share information and initiate actions. This allows decisions to be made faster and with fewer errors. Automation allows manufacturing processes to be run automatically, without requiring intervention.


This chapter will discuss how these systems fit into manufacturing, and what role they play.


An integrated system requires that there be two or more computers connected to pass information. A simple example is a robot controller and a programmable logic controller working together in a single machine. A complex example is an entire manufacturing plant with hundreds of workstations connected to a central database. The database is used to distribute work instructions, job routing data and to store quality control test results. In all cases the major issue is connecting devices for the purposes of transmitting data.


• Automated equipment and systems don’t require human effort or direction. Although this does not require a computer based solution


• Automated systems benefit from some level of integration


2.0.1 Why Integrate?


There is a tendency to look at computer based solutions as inherently superior. This is an assumption that an engineer cannot afford to entertain. Some of the factors that justify an integrated system are listed below.

• a large organization where interdepartmental communication is a problem

• the need to monitor processes


• Things to Avoid when making a decision for integration and automation,

- ignore impact on upstream and downstream operations

- allow the system to become the driving force in strategy

- believe the vendor will solve the problem

- base decisions solely on financials

- ignore employee input to the process

- try to implement all at once (if possible)


• Justification of integration and automation,

- consider “BIG” picture

- determine key problems that must be solved

- highlight areas that will be impacted in enterprise

- determine kind of flexibility needed

- determine what kind of integration to use

- look at FMS impacts

- consider implementation cost based on above


• Factors to consider in integration decision,

- volume of product

- previous experience of company with FMS

- product mix

- scheduling / production mixes

- extent of information system usage in organization (eg. MRP)

- use of CAD/CAM at the front end.

- availability of process planning and process data

* Process planning is only part of CIM, and cannot stand alone.



2.0.2 Why Automate?


• Why ? - In many cases there are valid reasons for assisting humans

- tedious work -- consistency required

- dangerous

- tasks are beyond normal human abilities (e.g., weight, time, size, etc)

- economics


• When?


Figure 1.1 - Automation Tradeoffs


• Advantages of Automated Manufacturing,

- improved work flow

- reduced handling

- simplification of production

- reduced lead time

- increased moral in workers (after a wise implementation)

- more responsive to quality, and other problems

- etc.


• Various measures of flexibility,

- Able to deal with slightly, or greatly mixed parts.

- Variations allowed in parts mix

- Routing flexibility to alternate machines

- Volume flexibility

- Design change flexibility



2.1 The Big Picture


How Computers Can Be Used in an Automated Manufacturing System



• Some Acronyms


CAD - Computer Aided/Automated Design - Design geometry, dimensions, etc.


CAE - Analysis of the design done in the CAD system for stresses, flows, etc. (often described as part of CAD)


CAM - Computer Aided/Automated Manufacturing - is the use of computers to select, setup, schedule, and drive manufacturing processes.


CAPP - Computer Aided Process Planning - is used for converting a design to a set of processes for production, machine selection, tool selection, etc.


PPC - Production Planning and Control - also known as scheduling. Up to this stage each process is dealt with separately. Here they are mixed with other products, as required by customer demand, and subject to limited availability of manufacturing resources.


Factory Control - On a minute by minute basis this will split up schedules into their required parts, and deal with mixed processes on a factory wide basis. (This is very factory specific, and is often software written for particular facilities) An example system would track car color and options on an assembly line.


Workcell Control - At this system level computers deal with coordination of a number of machines. The most common example is a PLC that runs material handling systems, as well as interlocks with NC machines.


Machine Control - Low level process control that deals with turning motors on/off, regulating speeds, etc., to perform a single process. This is often done by the manufacturers of industrial machinery.



2.1.1 CAD/CAM


• A common part of an integrated system


• In CAD we design product geometries, do analysis (also called CAE), and produce final documentation.


• In CAM, parts are planned for manufacturing (eg. generating NC code), and then manufactured with the aid of computers.


• CAD/CAM tends to provide solutions to existing problems. For example, analysis of a part under stress is much easier to do with FEM, than by equations, or by building prototypes.


• CAD/CAM systems are easy to mix with humans.


• This technology is proven, and has been a success for many companies.


• There is no ‘ONE WAY’ of describing CAD/CAM. It is a collection of technologies which can be run independently, or connected. If connected they are commonly referred to as CIM



2.1.2 The Architecture of Integration


• integrated manufacturing systems are built with generic components such as,

- Computing Hardware

- Application Software

- Database Software

- Network Hardware

- Automated Machinery


• Typical applications found in an integrated environment include,

- Customer Order Entry

- Computer Aided Design (CAD) / Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)

- Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP)

- Materials (e.g., MRP-II)

- Production Planning and Control (Scheduling)

- Shop Floor Control (e.g., FMS)


• The automated machines used include,

- NC machines

- PLCs

- Robotics

- Material Handling / Transport

- Machines

- Manual / Automated Assembly Cells

- Computers

- Controllers

- Software

- Networks

- Interfacing

- Monitoring equipment


• On the shop floor computers provide essential support in a workcell for,

- CNC - Computer Numerical Control

- DNC - Direct Numerical Control of all the machine tools in the FMS. Both CNC and DNC functions can be incorporated into a single FMS.

- Computer control of the materials handling system

- Monitoring - collection of production related data such as piece counts, tool changes, and machine utilization

- Supervisory control - functions related to production control, traffic control, tool control, and so on.



2.1.3 General Concepts


• Manufacturing requires computers for two functions,

- Information Processing - This is characterized by programs that can operate in a batch mode.

- Control - These programs must analyze sensory information, and control devices while observing time constraints.


• An integrated system is made up of Interfaced and Networked Computers. The general structure is hierarchical,


• The plant computers tend to drive the orders in the factory.


• The plant floor computers focus on departmental control. In particular,

- synchronization of processes.

- downloading data, programs, etc., for process control.

- analysis of results (e.g., inspection results).


• Process control computers are local to machines to control the specifics of the individual processes. Some of their attributes are,

- program storage and execution (e.g., NC Code),

- sensor analysis,

- actuator control,

- process modeling,

- observe time constraints (real time control).


• The diagram shows how the characteristics of the computers must change as different functions are handled.



• To perform information processing and control functions, each computer requires connections,

- Stand alone - No connections to other computers, often requires a user interface.

- Interfaced - Uses a single connection between two computers. This is characterized by serial interfaces such as RS-232 and RS-422.

- Networked - A single connection allows connections to more than one other computer. May also have shared files and databases.


• Types of common interfaces,

- RS-232 (and other RS standards) are usually run at speeds of 2400 to 9600 baud, but they are very dependable.


• Types of Common Networks,

- IEEE-488 connects a small number of computers (up to 32) at speeds from .5 Mbits/sec to 8 Mbits/sec. The devices must all be with a few meters of one another.

- Ethernet - connects a large number of computers (up to 1024) at speeds of up to 10 Mbits/sec., covering distances of km. These networks are LAN’s, but bridges may be used to connect them to other LAN’s to make a WAN.


• Types of Modern Computers,

- Mainframes - Used for a high throughput of data (from disks and programs). These are ideal for large business applications with multiple users, running many programs at once.

- Workstations (replacing Mini Computers) - have multiprocessing abilities of Mainframe, but are not suited to a limited number of users.

- Micro-processors, small computers with simple operating systems (like PC’s with msdos) well suited to control. Most computerized machines use a micro-processor architecture.


• A Graphical Depiction of a Workstation Controller



2.2 Practice Problems


1. What is concurrent (parallel) processing and why is it important for workcell control?

(ans. to allow equipment to do other tasks while one machine is processing)


2. What is meant by the term “Device Driver”?

(ans. a piece of hardware that allows a connections to a specific piece of hardware)


3. CAD and CAM are,

a) Integrated production technologies.

b) The best approaches to manufacturing.

c) Part of CIM.

d) None of the above.

(ans. c)


4. FMS systems are,

a) faster than robots.

b) a good replacement for manual labor.

c) both a) and b)

d) none of the above.

(ans. d)