In this first of several posts we are going to dig into what the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection has to offer in regards to analyzing how our products are made through their process. Analyzing a process is very important when it comes to your business and is aimed squarely at helping solve two problems that can help increase productivity and understand bottlenecks.
- Optimizing current methods by adjusting variables in the process.
- Looking ahead for future planning such as adding a new machine or line or even another operator
Process Analysis vs. AutoCAD Material Flow
Essentially, we have two tools at our disposal to assist us with these types of challenges. One of these tools has been with the Factory Design Utilities since about 2011 and hasn't been available to normal Product Design Suite customers until recent years when they were included in the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection. This tool is nestled away in AutoCAD Mechanical or AutoCAD Architecture after the Factory Design Utilities are loaded.
These tools are quite rudimentary are are designed for very linear product progressions for analysis. For instance, if a product can split to two machines or join into one station, or if there is a complex assembly of parts, this will not be an effective method of analysis. Even in this routing below, there are multiple factors that play into the process, but a lot is ignored or averaged in order to obtain valid results and tends to be harder to explain or show to interested parties outside of engineering. The tools use primary objects of Stations, Products, and Routing to achieve the results. Actual placement in the drawing has no merit on the transportation time's analysis by the way as that data is inputted by the user.
A couple years ago, I did a class at AU on this very topic and nothing has really changed in the software since then. So if this method does interest you or if you want to know more about this way of performing a Material Flow analysis for simple Transportation and Machine Utilization then check out the class here:
Now the second and much more robust way to analyze your processes was introduced just a few years ago as Process Analysis 360 which has since had the 360 dropped and is just called Process Analysis. This cloud based software is also a standard entitlement for the Product Design Collection and even shows up directly in the AutoCAD Factory Tab as well as the Inventor Factory Tab. Make sure you download it from your Autodesk account and have been given permission from your contract manager to use it since it is tied to your Autodesk ID.
This software was built from the ground up to do what the Material Flow tools could not. This software will allow multiple inputs and outputs and even allow operators to move while there is downtime or finished processes on their machine.
The interface is pretty straight laced to figure out. There is an Asset Browser used to place Assets from the Factory Design tools or your own custom library, a Settings Property Palette, a Simulation Timeline used to show real time or accelerated time flow, reporting tools for Line Efficiency and Cycle Time, and even old reliable...an Undo command.
We'll dig into these tools more in upcoming posts. For now, make sure you have access to the software and start looking at some of the tutorials that are built into the launch window.
Next post on this topic we will discuss the 5 main types of elements and what they do for the analysis. But before that, here's a little bonus. You can bring in an AutoCAD background for your Process Analysis. Do this to show rough estimations of where the process is being performed in a facility. I recommend just wall outlines to keep it simple. Ensure the View Settings are on and click Import New for a Background Underlay.
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