While many concepts currently discussed in the context of Industry 4.0 focus on the production process, the full digitalization of the entire product design, engineering process and production takes a broader, more comprehensive view. Full digitalization not only means the use of advanced digital technologies to streamline and automate production processes, but it also refers to the comprehensive and integrated use of digital technologies in the entire product life cycle.
This includes product development, planning activities, process and production engineering, digital support of the tool and fixture manufacturing, actual tryout and ramp-up processes for stampings and assemblies as well as production operations and quality management activities. The potential benefits are substantial and many OEM’s have realized that their competitiveness in the coming decade will depend greatly on the advances they make regarding the digitalization of the entire product development process chain.
Full process digitalization means that all decisions and actions in the development and engineering process are supported and based on reliable and consistent digital data, that all activities in the process chain are digitally documented, searchable and transparent and that all stakeholders in the process – internally and externally – have full access to all relevant data which digitally describe the manufacturing process.
With the current focus on Industry 4.0 issues, top management is now becoming more involved and directing their attention to digitalization efforts. The aim is to streamline the development process in order to reduce overall development investments and the time line.
It is important to realize that the fully digitalized process chain is not simply a digital version of the process used before digitalization but rather it is a different process chain. Since important and useful data becomes available much earlier in the process, collaboration between teams and departments is much more intimate. Therefore the decision making processes and timelines need to be reconsidered. The full and exclusive reliance on digital data across the entire process chain means that it is necessary to redesign the entire process and redefine the collaboration of all stakeholders involved. AutoForm with its state-of-the-art software technology which covers all stamping and BiW process phases provides a consistent and integrated platform to achieve full process digitalization.
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