CIM – Computer Integrated Manufacturing

Definition and meaning of Computer Integrated Manufacturing

The abbreviation CIM refers to Computer Integrated Manufacturing. It acts as a pillar for all computerized technologies that support a company. 

Here, special attention is paid to the letter "I" for integration. The reason for this is that the systems should not act as stand-alone solutions, but as integrated systems. Computer Integrated Manufacturing includes both function integration and data integration. 

  • Functional integration is when functions from different systems are available to a user at the same time or when they trigger each other. 
  • Data integration is the use of the same data via different software systems. 

The integrations serve as a foundation to achieve the goal of improving the timeliness and quality of processes, consistency, and data for job planning and execution.

CIM system

In the 1980s, the vision of CIM emerged for the first time, and with it the idea of looking at a company's processes as a whole and supporting them via integrated IT systems. The goal was to achieve permanent IT-supported information processing based on a cross-functional database. Nevertheless, the CIM systems introduced failed to deliver the desired benefits and quickly reached or even exceeded their set budgets. In addition, there were the utopian target ideas, which included fully automated production and a factory without people. In addition, the complexity of the subject matter in particular was enormously underestimated at the time. Nevertheless, the version of a CIM system and the resulting synergies is a goal-oriented idea.

First of all, Computer Integrated Manufacturing is the generic term for all computer-controlled technologies that support process flows. With the help of design control systems within a CIM system, the opportunity for more precise planning and control of the design process is made possible. In addition, the simultaneous handling of issues should result in a goal-oriented course of action. This is to be achieved by working holistically, flexibly and in part in parallel to optimize products, production and quality while minimizing development times. A common term here is "simultaneous engineering". The use of IT indicates an initial trend toward the return of production-prepared work in the design area.

Relationship between CIM and CAx systems

The software systems involved in the production process can be divided into both business software (production planning and control systems - PPS systems) and technical software (CA systems). One of the main problems of integrated manufacturing systems is their complexity. The solution to this is to combine individual functions such as machining, measuring or testing. Thereby common denominators are to be found and these are to be compressed to smaller working units. The main focus here is on CA systems in particular, since these are a very important component for CIM systems and are indispensable due to the wide range of possible applications. 

The most common CIM processes (CAx)

As already mentioned, integration refers to business management (production planning and control, supplemented by sub-areas such as accounting or cost accounting) and technical components (CAx modules). These include Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Aided Planning (CAP), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computer Aided Quality Assurance (CAQ). We have already given a detailed description and explanation in our articles on CAx and CAM. You can find them in our glossary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Computer Integrated Manufacturing

What is CIM?

CIM is the term used to describe Computer Integrated Manufacturing. There is a special focus on the integration of systems, as these should not act as isolated solutions, but as functioning systems. Furthermore, CIM is intended to optimize development times. 

What is the CIM concept?

The CIM concept serves the basic idea of considering processes of a company as a whole and supporting them via IT systems. The synergy effects created by a CIM system are of great advantage to companies. On the one hand, costs are saved due to the simultaneous mode of operation and on the other hand, development time is also saved.

How is CIM related to CAx systems?

CIM and CAx systems are related in that CAx systems and PPS systems are involved in the production process. Here, the PPS systems are more of a business management nature and the CAx systems are of a technical nature. Computer INtegrated Manufacturing is therefore a collective term for various activities that are supported by computers in a company and is thus summarized as CAx (computer aided).

What objectives can be achieved with the use of CIM in a company?

The use of CIM aims at the successful integration of IT systems in the company. This integration creates synergy effects that are of great importance to companies.  In addition, the integration should help to optimize time processes and thus realize cost savings.

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