Production Technology

Introducing technology into your production

Use this section to find quick, practical ways of applying technology to your production process.

Network your computers

For the simplest forms of production, a network is an essential tool for collaboration and information exchange. A peer-to-peer link between computers is the most basic form of network. It allows small teams to share documents and printers. It’s cheap and easy to set up but is only suitable for low-level access requirements.

To take advantage of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) or CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) you’ll need a client-server based network. You’ll need a powerful computer to host the network and the software to run it.

If a full-blown client/server network is too expensive, you might want to look at investing in a high-speed internet connection. The people to talk to will be the Application Service Providers (ASPs).

Look at how you can use your existing accounting system to budget and schedule projects more effectively. Consider how you can coordinate the different stages of production more efficiently.

Computer-Aided Design and Manufacture

Basically, CAD is a 3-dimensional electronic drawing board. In the hands of a skilled operator, it is a powerful product development tool.

It is a massive aid to accurate prototyping. The better CAD packages warn the designer when a design simply won’t work. You can use them to test products using 3D modelling and engineering algorithms.

Linking CAD with your production process can be as simple as providing production floor staff with access to a computer and printer. They can get blueprints and product specifications and use them to plan production.

Some of the better-established names are AutoCAD from Autodesk, Amapi 3D from Computers Unlimited and iGrafx Designer Studio from Micrografx.

CAM refers to automated manufacturing processes on the shop floor. If you already have CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) systems on the production floor, getting your CAD system to talk to them lets you control everything from your desktop. Designs can be fed straight from your computer into your production machines. As long as the raw materials for production are ready and the machine is calibrated properly – simple steps that would apply to any manufacturing process – the machine should make perfect product every time.

For a list of up-to-date manufacturers of CAD/CAM software, check this list of CAx companies.

Production Technology business advice © Crown Copyright 2003-2013

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