Although digital engineering can positively impact many different sectors, it has the potential to be particularly transformative for automotive manufacturers. From camshafts to steering knuckles, there are few parts in the automotive industry that aren’t subject to high standards of reliability, durability, and safety.
Digital engineering allows manufacturers to balance these external demands against production concerns by optimizing key internal functions. By reducing time to market and creating leaner production processes, automotive manufacturers can dedicate resources to going above and beyond the baseline minimum.
For example, a company that saves 100 design hours by switching to digital engineering may use that time to test new materials to reduce product weight.
The Advantages of Digital Manufacturing
The advantages of digital manufacturing reflect its roots in traditional engineering practices. Transitioning to a digital solution empowers manufacturers to assume a proactive and preventative approach to failure. It also reorients the entire organization to focus on data-driven results and technical rigor instead of basing decisions solely on the power of the human mind.
Enhanced Operational Efficiency
Companies often focus on streamlining processes on the production floor without considering how related departments, such as budgeting and logistics, affect operations. As a result, different parts of the organization may develop independently with separate standards and stores of information. This makes it more challenging for employees to collaborate across the organization since there’s no centralized system to track projects and lookup data.
Digital engineering software solves this problem by taking a holistic view of the organization and ensuring that data is available in a format that can be easily shared. It also creates a safer storage environment for important information that could be accidentally lost on paper or physical storage media.
Faster Innovation with State-of-the-Art Technology
Another advantage of digital manufacturing is how well it supports rapid innovation and expansion. Digital engineering fosters innovation by allowing design teams to test parameters and specifications virtually to confirm that the resulting parts will behave as expected. Since there’s no cost to scrap a digital prototype and make a new one, engineers and other design staff can freely experiment with few tangible consequences.
Digital engineering can also be used to upgrade older products by digitizing them. Instead of testing physical parts, design teams can analyze digital models to see if it’s possible to improve upon existing products using the most recent technologies. Periodically reviewing historical designs ensures that parts and equipment are constantly being evaluated for upgrades in a current-day context.
Attracting & Retaining Skilled Employees
Maintaining a skilled workforce is one of the overlooked advantages of digital manufacturing. Inefficiency and poor internal communication can be incredibly stressful on workers who need to collaborate with other departments as part of their core role.
Therefore, digital engineering promotes open communication across the entire organization by making information, people, and project plans more accessible. Storing data in a centralized location makes it simpler to share files and source information from other departments.
In addition to improving employee morale, digital engineering makes it possible to capture legacy knowledge from subject matter experts. This prevents the loss of essential information over time due to employee attrition since the most critical data is stored in a digital space.
The automotive industry has understood the value of skilled employees dating back to 1914 when Henry Ford increased wages and slashed working hours to retain personnel who already knew how to assemble automobiles.
Increased Customer Satisfaction
Instead of discovering unexpected points of failure while making physical prototypes, digital engineering reveals issues with quality, performance, or structural integrity before a physical unit is made. In the real world, this translates to fewer parts-related issues on the road and a lower probability of recall.
Not only do in-field failures put drivers at risk, but they also harm the reputation of all the companies involved in producing and installing faulty parts.
Lastly, digital manufacturing reduces costs by limiting how many physical prototypes need to be made and minimizing the likelihood of defects during production. It also decreases the number of working hours to move a project forward from conceptualization to production.
Once the products are finished, digitally engineered parts may even be cheaper to package and ship since they’re already optimized for weight with precisely recorded dimensions.
Embracing the Advantages of Digital Manufacturing
If you’re an automotive parts manufacturer with an interest in digital engineering, you can’t go wrong by choosing versatile software that can handle a wide variety of production techniques. Transvalor, for example, offers a full suite of services for forging, casting, and other critical processes for automotive manufacturing.
FORGE®, for example, is a 2D and 3D software solution for simulating hot, warm, and cold metal end-to-end forming processes. SIMHEAT® can analyze heat treatments in the mass (e.g., tempering) and simultaneously assess surface treatments such as nitriding. Meanwhile, REM3D® can simulate the behavior of polyurethane foam for creating acoustic panels, steering wheels, or other interior parts. These powerful manufacturing tools identify the best possible design for each product and the most efficient production process.
Find out more about the advantages of digital manufacturing by seeing how actual software and service companies like Transvalor continue to push the limits of what’s possible in the automotive industry without compromising on safety and reliability.