Computer integrated manufacturing (CIM) is a phrase used to describe the complete automation of a manufacturing plant, with all processes functioning under computer control and digital information tying them together. This implies that manufacturing is entirely controlled by computers. This was boosted by the machine tool manufacturers and the society for manufacturing engineers in the 1980s. CIM also refers to a method of manufacturing where by individual engineering, marketing, and support functions of manufacturing enterprise are organized. In CIM system functional areas such as design, planning, purchasing, analysis, inventory control, cost accounting and distribution are linked through the computer with factory floor functions of management and material handling for monitoring and providing direct control to all process operations.
The heart of a computer integrated manufacturing is a computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing systems which are essential for reducing cycle times in the organization. They are tools that integrate technologically design and manufacturing in a high way. This has led to a lot of improvements and caused several implications to the world today. They also have a lot of impacts for the future economic and service fields. The existence and use of robots and computers started like a nightmare to many but its actualization has affected even those who never thought of its reality. This is the reality we are living in, this paper analyses the use of computer integrated manufacturing, robotics and their relationship with information technology. It also looks at the future of robotics.
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2.0 Computer-integrated Manufacturing
CIM is the integration of the total manufacturing enterprise through the use of integrated systems and data communications coupled with new managerial philosophies that improve organizational and personnel efficiency. Computer based control systems can be collective with manufacturing technology such as robots, machine tools, automated guided vehicles to improve operations during manufacturing. Computers therefore assist in integrating these technologies into lean and efficient factory aptitude of competing in world markets. Some organizations have used information technology and factory automation to improve manufacturing operations. This is often called the computer-integrated manufacturing.
Computer integrated manufacturing mingles development in manufacturing with information technology to achieve competitive benefit. With proper organization CIM provides opportunities to automate design, manufacturing and production planning and control. Engineering design through computer aided design enables the organization to come up specialized designs rapidly. These designs are tailored to meet the customer’s needs (Aatifmazhar, 2008).
Flexibility manufacturing systems produce a variety of high quality products efficiently. It allows production of high specialized designs by an organization. Computer based production and control systems allow organizations to cope with the complexity of managing facilities that manufactures a wide variety of specialized products without loosing the efficiency. With proper combination of the three components, an organization can yield synergetic results. CIM usage in an organization leads to more flexible and integrated operations with better equipping for complex operations management.
The use of computers has had a positive implication to the engineering and manufacturing in many ways. It’s a form of manufacturing that involves mathematics and natural sciences. For an industry to be competitive in the international market and especially in the field of high technology; its ability to develop and integrate new and advanced methods into the production process is very important and needful. These methods are purely based on emerging technology of computer integrated manufacturing and the flexibility manufacturing. They aid in faster development of products of high quality, shorter development and production cycle, faster delivery times. This means the cost of production is reduced and the ability to compete with the ever changing demands of the international markets is increased.
In some industries CIM is facing some difficulties which can be associated to inadequate knowledge management and concurrent engineering issues. These problems have become a little bit hard for CIM to handle even though there has been increased interest in artificial intelligence, expert systems and knowledge based systems. In order to gain improved productivity through CIM, information technology is a vital field to pay attention to.
The knowledge and use of computer integrated manufacturing cannot be complete without mentioning some of the challenges faced in its application and implementation. The key challenge regarding CIM is equipment incompatibility and difficulty of integration of protocols. Integrating different brands equipment controllers with robots, supervisory controllers and conveyors consumes a lot of time and has a lot of pitfalls. Data integrity is also a point of concern. The machines mostly react to bad data, and the cost of data upkeep as well as the general information systems departmental costs is higher than in a non-CIM facility (Aatifmazhar, 2008).
Producing schedules and optimizing part of the sequence through are logical extensive program has not been an easy task. There is no substitute for a human mind even though it may be mimicked in reacting to dynamic day to day manufacturing schedules and changing of priority. Therefore computer integrated manufacturing is not a universal remedy and can never be embraced as religion. It is just an operational tool that can be implemented properly to provide room for competition in the market.
Robotics is the science and technology of designing, making and applying robots, including theory from contributing fields. A robot is a mechanical or virtual, artificial agent. It is mostly an electromechanical system, which by its movements, conveys a sense that intent an agency of its own. Robots come in many types and forms. There are home or domestic robots that are used for household chores. They can cut your grass and vacuum your carpets. Robots have historically progressed, there are those that can paint cars and move boxes automatically in warehouses. Transmission of data and recording from the planets in our solar systems is also be done by the robots. Just recently, robots have made inroads into our homes. Some are used in industrial settings such as automobile manufacturing and are controlled by computers.
Robots found in manufacturing industries do jobs that are not suitable for human beings i.e. difficult, dangerous or dull. They lift objects, handle chemicals and perform assembly work. They are suitable for performing repetitive jobs. They are also used for performing hazardous duty service, maintenance jobs, Fire fighting, military warfare, and medical applications and on the farm. Robotics comes in different forms ranging from nanorobotics to space robotics to telerobotics. Nanorobotics is the technology of creating machines or robots close to microscopic scale of a nanometer. This can be most applicable in the medical field. Nanorobotics is still a hypothetical concept. Telerobotics is the area of robotics concerned with the control of robots from a distance, usually using wireless connections like Bluetooth, lethered connections and the internet (Kitahara & Takashi, 2006).
Robotics has rapidly become one of the leading fields of science and technology. Robotics is a unique combination of many scientific disciplines, whose applications are enlarging more due to scientific and technological achievements. A key growth arena is intelligent assist device operators that manipulate robots as though it was a bionic extension of their limbs with increased reach and strength. Robotics is not a replacement for human beings but a class of ergonomic assistance products that help human partners in a wide range of things. To use the human machine interface, the operator works to optimize lifting, positioning and guiding movements. Sensors, computer power and control algorithms translate the operators hand movements into super lifting power.
3.1 Recent developments and need for development in robotics.
‘Robotization’ of production processes has shown that their concept of automation is distinctive and irreplaceable position. The diversity of robotics application has been dynamically spreading besides its classical application in the production or industrial fields and technologies. It has encroached to the areas of non industrial technology applications and services. These trends have increased the demands on the complexity of innovation of all areas getting into the automated production and service systems. The new tends formed new needs on the construction and development of new kinds and generations of robots as well as a new approach to their application. This would only be achieved through the use of highly distinct implementation of non traditional mechanical principles of control or computer technology, information technology and artificial intelligence.
The current state of art in robotics has been made possible by the knowledge and creativity developed in the area based on the stimulation and interest. The development of applications and production of robots has also characterized the permanent dynamic growth. Development of robotics data documents has contributed to the growth of robotics (Juraj & Mikulas & Vladimir, 2002)
3.2 Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is an area in computer application that focuses on creating machines that perform in ways considered to be intelligent by human beings. This for many years was a dream but now it is a reality with the invention of smart machines. Researchers are trying to create systems that impersonate human thoughts, understand speech and other things that were not there before. Exoskeletons are very powerful machines that are controlled by weak human beings without any harm. Finding the right balance or synergy between man and machine is not an easy task.
The most important task in robotics is to get the teleoperation and autonomous operation to cooperate, this means they get the human and robots to cooperate and efficiently work by coordinating their intelligence and skills. Artificial intelligence is simpler terms is the working of computers and robots. This is a form of information technology that has addressed a wide range of difficulties. It has been used in space ships to give a deeper level of control from correcting color formulas with a master shader’s efficiency to define color tolerances in the exact way we see color (Winslow, 2006).
Computerized color formulation systems based on equations, communicate and define the relative color specifications. Software utilizing colorimetric formulations treats green and red as equal when human beings can detect them far. That is there are several limitations in its usage. The major goal for artificial intelligence is to eliminate human reliance for many tasks. This may have been limited by the inability to replicate all human functions.
People have questioned whether the idea of developing artificial intelligence systems are anywhere near creating machines that are truly intelligent. Artificial intelligence has valued tool for computer integrated manufacturing, to providing decision support, scheduling of jobs, process planning, monitoring and assembly of robots. In addition to other technologies used in computer integrated manufacturing, artificial intelligence has been the most effective. This is in relation to supplementing and augmenting human capabilities (Winslow, 2006).
Internet can be taken as an example of artificial intelligence. This has lead to businesses with the outside country while in your house. The world indeed has turned into a global village where people can court and even marry online. Carry out business deals and even manufacture things without needing human assistance in any way.
3.3 Robotics and information technology
Information technology was mainly for data recording and processing to support the economical and production units to increase their productivity. Information technology can be considered as comprising of five basic elements. These components include Computers, communications, work stations, computer chips, technology and robotics. The technology highly influenced all sectors of social and economic life. The extent to which it impacted these sectors led to large growth in industry and services. The improvement of quality of the services offered and products was well attributed with the application of robotics and reliability on information technology. This improved the working environment of human beings and consequently the attributed potential.
The making, functioning and application of robotics sorely rely on information technology. Robots and computers are the key tools that are used in robotics. To commence this discussion computer integrated manufacturing which implies that all the operations of manufacturing are controlled by computers with very minimal human effort; relies purely on use of computers. This is information technology which involves encoding of data that is able to command an action for a task. Along with this comes in the use of sensors which are a common occurrence in robotics. For the effective services in the production sector the sensors are vital, this enables packaging, lifting of loads and the other duties performance with very little human input (Juraj & Mikulas & Vladimir, 2002)
Sensors, computer power and control algorithms translate the operators hand movements into super lifting power. The sensors measure the robot configuration or condition and its environment and send the information to the robot controller. This is because the robots require information that is beyond the five senses of human beings i.e. ability to: see in the dark, detection of tiny things and measurement of small or too fast for human eye to see. Force sensors and tilt sensors are used to enhance quality work to ensure right fitting of machines and good timing in picking up materials.
For robots to mimic human beings, high knowledge in information technology is required to achieve the required results. This particular project has minimized and eliminated manufacturing reliance on humans by adopting a planning perspective to use automation for product designing, production work and even scheduling. Through artificial intelligence the results that are almost to be achieved are that humans are unnecessary in manufacturing (Kitahara & Takashi, 2006).
Through information technology; communication being one of it components the growth in communication sector has a direct impact on robotics. Communication is a key area in robotics in that it is transmission of information from a sender to a recipient who in turn should respond. This is purely relied on for the excellent performance of the robotics. The working of robotics relies much on communication between the different stations and their departments.
Robotics is one department that have a lot of reliance on transmissions and they are a vital part of it whole duty. Cut off of transmissions means stagnating of the duties in the stations affairs. The robots work in response to the transmissions they receive from the controller. This implies that if transmission lines are not in order or not working the whole system collapses. Computers are the other tools that support the working of robotics; its existence has been brought into reality through computer technology. The growth in computer technology has brought a lot of improvement and achievements in robotics. Robotics being a segment of computer technology, the advancements in the whole field is replicated to the field of robotics. In conclusion robotics and computer integrated manufacturing is all about information technology. It takes a pertinent part in their development and sustainability (Juraj & Mikulas & Vladimir, 2002).
3.4 The future of robotics
It is most probable that if one will be in need of something he will be turning to service and personal robots. The machines are already performing domestic chores and tasks such as milking cows or handling toxic waste or serving in fields; like emergency medical support. It shows in the long run most homes will have a little mechanical helper. By the year 2007 the sale of pool cleaning and window washing robots rose significantly to two million. It is surprising that within the last three years more than four and a half million domestic robots have been sold.
Given the next two or so decades robots will be capable of replacing humans in most manufacturing and service job. The economic development will be primarily determined by the advancement of robotics. A computer compatibility of layers that can merge software to allow development of robotics ecosystem is needful for this development. This is possible because Microsoft has developed its software Microsoft robotics studio. In the timeline there will be development of agricultural robots, those that can take care of the elderly, medical robots, household’s robots with full use and nanorobots will come into reality.
The affiliated thing to robotics that is around the corner is that the manufacturing industries may not require human labor in any way. This is predictable due to the increased rate of transforming industries to computer integrated manufacturing units. All activities ranging from financial matters to raw material handling and services rendering also have been made computer affiliated (Kitahara & Takashi, 2006).
Computer integrated manufacturing, robotics and information technology cannot be separated. This is because the three work to complement and supplement each other. The working of computer integration has been made possible by the growing technology and for that matter information technology. The idea of robotics would not be birthed probably if computer integrated manufacturing was not discover and vice versa. They can be said to be components of one field that cannot run without their integration.
The diversification of application of robotics will be possible with the diversification of information technology. This is a fact that is inevitable. The future of computer integrated manufacturing is only clearly predictable with the predictability of advancements in information technology. This determines how largely the robots will be used in the future.
Aatifmazhar, (2008): The role of computers and information technology in manufacturing. Retrieved on 21st Jan, 2009 from: http://hubpages.com/hub/role-of-computer-in-IT-manufacturing
Juraj S. & Mikulas H. & Vladimir C., (2002); Recent development of robotics and the needs for development of relevant areas. Retrieved on 21st Jan, 2009 from: http://bmf.hu/conferences/SAMI2004/smrcek.pdf
Kitahara S. & Takashi Y. O., (2006): Deployment of Construction Robots Applying the information technology And Network System. Retrieved on 21st Jan, 2009 from: http://www.iaarc.org/external/isarc2006 cd/www/ISARC2006/00138_200607301724.pdf
Winslow, L. (2006, December 13). 2007 Trends in Artificial Intelligence. Retrieved on 21st Jan, 2009 from: http://ezinearticles.com/?2007-Trends-in-Artificial-Intelligence&id=384926
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