Enabling Shop Floor Digitization with Fusion 360

Shannon McGarry September 28, 2022 4 min read

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

Shop floor digitization utilizing Fusion 360 will allow you to explore new efficiencies, improve data integrity, and expand collaboration.

Integrated CAD, CAM, CAE, PCB, PDM, and PLM cloud solutions like Fusion 360 are leading the way in making shop floor digitization possible. Learn more about the benefits of digital product development and how it can improve your company’s manufacturing process.

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What is Shop Floor Digitization?

The term “shop floor digitization” has been thrown around a lot in the last couple of years. Most of the time, it makes us scratch our heads and question what it really means. I mean, our machines operate using digital processes…right? Yes, but it’s a lot more than that. 

“Shop floor digitization” refers to the collection of data on the shop floor. Whether it be through hardware connected to your machines and a data stream through a network, or now, shop floor no code apps that can connect remotely for real-time monitoring. Regardless of how it’s implemented, the impact is resoundingly substantial. It leads to improved operational efficiency and provides real-time feedback to drive decision-making. Above all else, it provides a realistic look at the health of your process. 

The Benefits of Shop Floor Digitization

By implementing data collection on the shop floor via a cloud-based system, employees can focus on their jobs. Further, management can gain visibility into the state of the manufacturing processes. Ultimately the customer can rely on more accurate estimates for more efficient production. The cloud is centralized everywhere, meaning your data, whether it be G-code, production schedules, Kanban, or material stocking. Everywhere you need it to be exactly when you need it. 

Cloud-based technologies like Autodesk Fusion 360 that combine CAD, CAM, PCB design, CAE, PDM, and PLM are excellent examples of this type of shop floor digitization.

Collaboration

Collaboration is an obvious place to start when discussing shop floor digitization. At the most basic level, the collaboration among the entire product development team enhances when everyone is using the same tools, and the data is in a central location. Multiple designers, machinists, or even contract manufacturers or consultants can collaborate on any aspect of the product development or production cycle regardless of where they are in the world or what time it is. These features come standard, out of the box with software like Fusion 360, allowing users to experience the benefits immediately.

The collaboration tools in Fusion 360 aren’t just the basics of working on a design together with a like-minded job role. It understands the complexities of what it takes to manufacture a product. It also puts everyone in the room together so that when you ship it, it’s right. From the simulation of the structural weldment you’re working on to concurrently designing on the same assembly worlds apart, collaboration isn’t about just having access. It’s about working, making changes, and not causing negative impacts. And that’s just in the product development cycle. Collaboration for Fusion 360 also extends to the data via Prodsmart and shop floor optimization through material stores, production cycles, and BOMs. 

Data Integrity

Traceability, maintenance, and optimization issues are everywhere in new product introductions. Add on any ISO standards or regulations your product needs to meet, like UL, and you quickly introduce risk. Fusion 360, is the first mechanical, electrical, simulation, machining, fabrication, and data tool that automatically versions and stores the historical data associated with any product. Think about that. You ship a REV4 and realize you didn’t compensate for something. Or there’s interference with a mechanical connection – whatever the issue – having the historical data revert to REV 3 is one thing. However, having everything connected with cloud data storage and parametrically confined allows you to go to REV5 without an entire re-design. That’s massively valuable. 

By ensuring that designs are continuously preserved remotely and providing a seamless transition between disciplines, these tools free the designer to focus on solving problems rather than wrestling with data file management. This, in turn, further enhances the ability of multiple team members to collaborate. It also allows for greater visibility into the overall status and health of a project. Think about that, you no longer have to work on an 8-hour clock. You can extend your operational capacity to accommodate time zones. Effectively allowing your process to operate 24/7, 365 days a year. 

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Development Efficiency 

Collaboration and data integrity come together to yield improvements in development efficiency. Tools like Fusion 360 eliminate many of the woes and pitfalls of the past siloed manufacturing shop floor. Emailing files to share with colleagues, packaging designs, manually tracking version names for contractors, and manually backing up precious data on local hard drives are now past procedures. Fewer mistakes are made, collaboration happens in real-time across the oceans, and progress can be precisely quantified. As a result, physical products are being developed faster than ever, with higher overall quality and lower engineering costs. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 Enables Shop Floor Digitization

Digitally upgrading the manufacturing shop floor may seem trivial compared to the machines on the physical floor, but that’s not the case. It’s a symbiotic relationship that the entire industry is heading at a lighting quick speed. 

Connecting the people, and the machines, the process only happens through data and platform tools that can accommodate every aspect of the production or product design process. This includes tools like 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, and software beyond CAD, such as PDM and PLM. Once the shop floor and its current state and workload can be understood and visualized, the benefits to the operation are numerous. Resulting in improved collaboration, augmented data integrity and maintainability, and overall gains in efficiency and throughput. Cloud CAD tools like 

Fusion 360 is leading the way by unlocking innovation with shop floor digitization.

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