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Can CAD data be the future for Industry 4.0? 

To satisfy the rising demand for smart design and digital transformation, CAD is in a prime position to aid engineers on the next steps in digital technology. Boris Fischer-Ribic, country manager of norelem Austria, addresses the advantages of CAD data and how it can improve and streamline product design – making it a sure path to a more efficient process. Originally invented to help designers draw lines more effectively, computer aided design (CAD) has evolved to become the cornerstone of almost all data generated design for manufacturing. CAD data enables improved product quality, with lower development costs as well as increased efficiency, which enables faster production and a quicker introduction to the market.

The CAD Software Market Research Report stated that the global CAD software market is predicted to reach a value of $18.7 billion in 2030, increasing from $9.3 billion in 2019. The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0 is essentially a digital thread, from start to finish, from concept to output. Not one company or manufacturer encompasses all that Industry 4.0 is and does. Many parts need to be connected to each other to make Industry 4.0 effective and practical in the workplace, and the CAD program is an important part of this process.

It's all in the design

Even at the beginning of the design process, it is advisable that engineers can make daily work easier by using CAD data. Getting an idea of the available prefabricated parts in advance can support the design process. During the design process, CAD data enables better visualisation options, right down to the sub-assemblies of the final product. A big advantage of CAD data is accuracy. This cannot be achieved with a sketch, and without it, it can make the design process more error-prone, slower and more costly if the design is incorrect.  The design engineer has the possibility to design in 2D or 3D right from the start and to view the finished virtual model from different angles. This also facilitates software integration. 2D CAD is commonly used for sketching ideas, whereas 3D CAD is used to virtually build the product and adjust dimensions – an integrated software system enables the engineer to switch between the two.  CAD data has the possibility to create a virtual object of the finished designed product and also to test the internal functions of the design. The visual representation of the finished product in a virtual environment not only gives the engineer a more realistic experience, it also makes it easier to identify and correct possible errors in the design.

Time is of the essence

Increased productivity has been a goal in manufacturing for a very long time and despite advances in technology, such as factory automation, over the last decade it’s constantly been evolving and adapting.  Thanks to modern communication technology, digitalisation makes it possible to connect designers, machines and products with each other. This enables the designer to check in advance which components can fit into available installation space, or how much design clearance is left. Knowing which standard components are available can save a lot of time. This knowledge enables the engineer to use as many standard parts as possible in the drawing and can then concentrate fully on the few remaining design details. This results in an enormous time saving, the value-added chain is optimised and engineers can focus on their core competence again. All CAD models are static models. This eliminates not only the drawing of components, but also their configuration, and leads to the goal more quickly and efficiently. The visual representation of the finished product in a virtual environment not only gives the designer a more realistic experience, it also makes it easier to identify and correct possible errors in the design. Ultimately, minimising downtime and increasing efficiency.

Always available

With CAD data becoming a widely available resource for engineers, whether it’s online or through an app, the product design process is becoming more streamlined and efficient. Design engineers will spend less time designing products or parts using CAD data due to the vast range of knowledge, material availability and suggestions.  As the CAD market is expected to rapidly grow over the next ten years, it’s vital engineers can adapt with software and technology as and when it changes. Training is available through various manufacturers, often for free, to help engineers keep up to speed with updates.  Designers can get the most out of norelem by changing the way they approach the design process and by using norelem CAD data first. Whether online, with the norelem CAD app or with the company’s reference book, tool and idea generator: The Big Green Book – it is available as a print, digital and USB version. The company’s Academy training centre supports engineers whenever necessary, with more than 60 years of expertise in mechanical and plant engineering. As industry insiders, those at norelem know what moves designers and engineers, offering free training courses, from basic training and professional knowledge to an overview of new products. 

The short 30-minute basic training courses can be accessed online, anywhere, anytime. The company’s database provides all relevant information on its products, application examples and best practice videos. Engineers can obtain CAD data for more than 60,000 norelem components in various data formats – so the whole world of standard components is available. This allows engineers to integrate all technical and geometric data quickly and easily into their system to bring design concepts to life more efficiently and accurately. From the basic to the most complex geometries, CAD software is proving to be very beneficial in the creation of numerous designs for many industries. But for manufacturing, it’s on the rise pushing the industry towards a more streamlined and efficient future, connecting the physical and digital worlds. norelem is a world-leading manufacturer and supplier of flexible standard parts and components for mechanical engineering. The company supplies 60,000 standard products relating to standard machinery and operating elements, as well as automation components; 98 per cent of these parts are available from stock, and the business delivers on-site technical support for products.

The Big Green Book is norelem’s ideas catalogue and a reference book.