I ran across SOLIDWORKS article announcing that SOLIDWORKS World 2018 is going to be featuring a “Shop Floor” booth, which seems really interesting to me. After having attended many SOLIDWORKS World conferences in the past, I can say that in previous years, focus hasn’t always been on manufacturing, but mostly on design and analysis. However, it seems like the dynamic is steadily shifting to encompass both design and manufacturing in recent years. So, the fact that SOLIDWORKS is going to be encompassing and highlighting increasingly more products that support and enhance the interaction between design and manufacturing is encouraging.
History of Manufacturing at SOLIDWORKS World
This has always been an area where there’s been a bit of a disconnect. Engineering completes a design, sends it to be manufactured and inspected and expects everything to be perfect. With modern designs and intelligent software solutions today, there’s much more interaction between all aspects of the design, start to finish. That is why incorporating a “Shop Floor” booth is such an exciting breakthrough.
MBD for Manufacturing
It looks like SOLIDWORKS is taking a strong look at how a file created with embedded Model Based Definition (MBD) for all manufacturing and tolerancing instructions of the model will be used downstream for both manufacture and inspection. That’s really exciting for a lot of reasons – if you haven’t been following MBD, it’s essentially an easy way to use the CAD model as the single source of truth, and it can be leveraged downstream into manufacturing with CNC and inspection for quality control. This eliminates the need for drawings and maintaining the link between the two. Overall, this ensures that all manufacture and inspection is done against the model itself.
CheckMate Tool for CMM
In addition, it looks like they’ll also be showing off some capabilities of Origin International’s CheckMate tool to generate inspection programs for a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a soft gauge to evaluate point cloud information generated with a laser scanner. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle that and how the inspection data is evaluated. I’m curious to see how much further we can take both that data and human-level interaction, automate and track it.
Digital Manufacturing Apps like Tulip
Moving the manufacturing of any design to the digital realm seems daunting at first. But our new partner product, Tulip, does a great job of handling that transition. Shop floor interactions have traditionally been very difficult to guide and track. With Tulip, manufacturing and quality can easily be guided through the process of inspection, setup, assembly and quality control with digitally connected tools and apps. It bridges the gap between generating and tracking traditional assembly and manufacture documents and SOPs.
The best part is that all of this can be tracked digitally, and data can be pulled live as the shop floor is in production. For example, a barcode scan or a part number can bring up the pre-loaded inspection criteria for the part, complete with tracking the machine output or even interfacing with gauges or visual inspection equipment. The assembly or post-machining side can be made much easier by having pick-to-light bins, pre-loading torque to screwdrivers and simple walkthroughs of assembly steps. The best part about it is that all the information is tracked digitally and can be sorted, monitored and reported live. This reduces communication error. It looks like the different tools that will be on display at SWW18 this year would be easy to run on a Tulip backbone to record and interface the data. And more importantly, they can improve the human interaction to the automation tools.
Either way, it’s exciting stuff! I’ll be stopping by the booth when I go next week, and I’ll report back on how it goes. While you wait for my follow up blog, check out Tulip and read our complete guide to SOLIDWORKS World 2018.