Methods for improving performance of process planning for CNC machining - An approach based on surveys and analytical models
Process planning as an enabler of competiveness is often overlooked, but being one of the principal function in the product realisation flow it holds a key role by combining both product and production requirements into a production concept with respect to the current manufacturing system. As such the capability of process planning to a large extent dictates production cost, lead times, product quality etc. With the introduction of new demands on production, such as environmental impact and process capability, process planning must be able to manage these demands effectively. Accordingly, it is vital to study the effects that up-coming demands have on the act of process planning.
The research methods employed in this work include surveys (questionnaires and interviews), industrial case studies and experiments to provide data for models developed.
The main finding of this research is that there is a lack of quantified process planning performance knowledge in the industry, which leads to verification problems as to whether changes that are made render anticipated effects. Results of surveys also indicated a low level of digitalisation of product data and limited use of computer aids (CAM, feature-based CAM and PLM) in Swedish industry based on 144 companies’ response. A concept to improve process planning performance through operation classification based on process capability indices (Cp/Cpk) was suggested. The role of process planning in designing cost efficient and energy efficient machining operations has been maintained throughout the thesis by showing how tool selection and machining parameters selection influences the possibilities to achieve these objectives. This work has also showed that no inherent contradictions appear to exist between achieving cost efficient and energy efficient machining operations.
This thesis has contributed to an enhanced understanding of how process planning improvements can be achieved through a holistic perspective of the process planning function, where both technical and methodological aids are included. It is however essential to understand the current situation of the process planning organisation, its internal/external relations, level of digitalisation, competency level etc. before major changes of the process planning function are undertaken in order to be successful.