Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the latest fruit ripped due to the technological development in electronics and computer technology and harvested by the manufacturing sector.
What is CAM?
CAM is an acronym for Computer-Aided Manufacturing. As the name implies, Computer-aided manufacturing may be defined as the use of a computer-based system to performed activities associated with the manufacturing system. CAM is the automation of the manufacturing system.
Classification of activities in manufacturing
A product has to go through several manufacturing processes/activities during its manufacturing. A manufacturing system consists of several activities which can be classified into at least two category
All those activities which are directly responsible for the manufacturing of a given product. All the real-time manufacturing processes come under this head.
Examples:- Machining, Welding, Assembly, etc.
Manufacturing support activities
All those activities which are indirectly responsible for the manufacturing of a given product.
Examples:- Material requirement planning, Process planning, Part programming, inventory control, etc.
Role of Computer based control system
According to use in several manufacturing activities, a computer-based system plays a direct role or an indirect role in manufacturing. When a computer-based system is used to perform manufacturing activities it is said to play a direct role. During the direct role, a computer-based system needs to be directly connected to the process/machine.
When a computer is used to perform the manufacturing support activities it is said to play an indirect role. During an indirect role, a computer-based system need not be directly connected to the process/ machine.
When a computer-based system is used in manufacturing activities, it can be used at least for two different functions.
This function is all about recording or displaying several variables of a machine.
This is sometimes known as one way communication between machine and computer based control system as no corrective signal sent to the machine back.
Monitoring & Control function
This function offers two-way communication between the machine and a computer based control system. Besides recording or displaying the variables of the machine, a proper corrective signal is sent to the machine if any of the variables exceed its set limits.
Basic Elements of CAM
A Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) System has at least three basic elements:-
It is popularly known as the Part Program. A part program is a set of detailed step by step instructions that need to be followed by the machine. It tells the machine what instruction has to be executed and in what sequence.
This one is the most important element of CAM. It is a computer-based control system that controls the process/machine according to the program feed into it. It read the program and converts it into a machine-readable format and then sends the instruction to the machine in an appropriate manner. It is commonly known as a machine control unit ( MCU).
These are the process/machine need to be controlled like Drilling, Milling, etc.
How does it works?
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) means to make machine automated with the help of a computer-based control system. An automated machine required at least three steps to run properly. These three steps are:-
Step 01. Preparation of Part Program
The first step to make a machine self-operated is the preparation of a part program. A part program includes a number of instructions, in an appropriate format, to be followed by machine for manufacturing a product. The Commonly used format is the G codes programming.
Step 02. Feeding of Part Program in MCU
After the preparation of the part program for a given product, it is feed into the machine control unit of the respective machine. The main function of MCU is to read the program and convert it into a machine-readable format. Other functions of MCU include sending the signals/instructions to the controlled machine and established a proper feed-back channel.
Step 03. Execution of Part Program
This step is dedicated to the execution of the part program. In this step respective machine runs according to the command received from the MCU.
CAM, the introduction of the computer-based control system to control the manufacturing activities, offers the following advantage over conventional manufacturing:-
- Improved product quality
- Reduced cost of the product
- Reduced non-productive time that further lead to lower the manufacturing lead time (MLT)
- Increased Productivity due to better utilization of available resources
- Increased manufacturing flexibility to cope up the changes
- Safer working environment for the workers
- Competitive advancement to the manufacturers, etc.
Computer-aided manufacturing faces the following limitations:-
- Higher Initial Investment (due to higher cost of automated machines or control system)
- Skilled Labor Requirements ( as the functioning of automated machines or control system needs special skills)
- Higher Unemployment rate ( because of the higher working rate of automated machines or control system )
- Higher maintenance cost ( because of complex circuits involved in automated machines or control systems)
The major application areas of Computer aided manufacturing includes:-
- Automobile Sector
- Defence Sector
- Aeronautical Sector
- Nuclear Sector, etc
The recent development in Artificial Intelligence and the introduction of Machine learning is going to change the face of manufacturing in future. Machine learning would make a machine capable to take a decisive action on its own whenever it required.
This is all about Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
Hope you find it useful.