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Why computer-aided process planning is one of the key technological

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Whycomputer-aided process planning is one of the key technologicaladvancements made in the manufacturing sector.

Technologicaladvances and especially the use of computers to enhance efficiencyhave impacted all aspects of human life. The development of thecomputers-aided process planning is one of the ongoing technologicaladvancements that aim at improving efficiency of various processes,including industrial manufacturing. Process planning involves thepreparation of routes showing the sequence of operations and tasks aswell as work centers that are required to produce differentcomponents and the final product. Computer-aided process planningrefers to the use of computers to enhance efficiency of planners whoare involved in the process of planning different functions of agiven production process (Jasthi 3). Computer-aided planning process(CAPP) is implementing using the logical decision technique, which isaccomplished by coding the capability of a given process in acomputer program. In addition, a tree structure is often used whereeach of the process is coded as a branch. The present study willaddress the history, today’s use of CAPP, and its possibledevelopment in the future.

Historyand impacts of CAPP

Theapplication of computers in facilitating the planning process hasbeen in existence for about four decades. The first of how computerscan be used to enhance the process of planning was made in 1965 byNiebel (Alting 553). Since then, several developments have beenaccomplished with the objective of enhancing the application of CAPPin the actual industrial environment. The development of CAPP hasfocused on the implementation and direction of computer-aidedplanning processes. This has resulted in the development of two waysof achieving a process plan. The first approach is referred to as thevariant process or retrieval planning process. This approach appliesthe group technology code in selecting a generic plan from existingmaster plans and then edits it to address the requirements of a givenprocess (Jasthi 4). Although this approach has been used in thedevelopment of several types of variant CAPP systems (includingTOJICAPP and DISAP), it cannot be applied in designing systems insituations that involves small and varying parts. The secondtechnique is referred to as the generative and it involves automatedsynthesis of the process information. This is the most recentapproach that was developed to eliminate the limitations of thevariant approach.

Theimpact of CAPP systems can be better understood by assessing theirbenefits compared to manually developed systems. The use of computershas continually improved consistency and accuracy of the planningprocess since computer-based planning is more accurate compared tomanual planning (Rao 1). In addition, computer-aided the planningprocess is cost efficient and its adoption results in cost saving aswell as reduction in lead time during the process planning. Moreover,the development of automated approaches of process planning hasreduced the level of skills required for the process planners tosuccessfully conduct the process planning. However, this is limitedto the generative approach, which allows for automated processplanning. Additionally, CAPP facilitates the creation of theinterface between work standards and costs as well as themanufacturing lead time (Rao 1). In essence, the introduction ofcomputer-aided process planning has resulted in significant impactsin terms of improved efficiency, cost reduction, time savings, all ofwhich contributes towards improved productivity.

Theuse of CAPP technology

Theprimary objective of the planning process is to help in translationof various design requirements into details that are needed in themanufacturing process (Jasthi 2). The resulting route sheets documentmachine tools and production operations that are used in themanufacturing process. There are three major features if CAPP thatenhances its preference in the manufacturing of products. First, CAPPleads to production of routines that specify operation sequences thatare the major input to the planning system of the manufacturingprocess. Secondly, CAPP provides step-wise instructions that includethe quality assurance checkpoints that help manufacturers inproducing quality products. This means that CAPP was basicallydeveloped for application in the manufacturing sector.

CAPPis mainly applied in the manufacturing sector where the process planis prepared on the basis of the availability as well as the status ofthe available manufacturing facilities. The information about thestatus of the manufacturing facilities is availed to the CAPP systemin order to facilitate the development of realistic plans. Materialreception and inspection report (MRIR) is a process of collectinginformation pertaining to the manufacturing resources (includingcutting tools, jig fixtures, machine tools, and inspection gauges)(Jasthi 15). MRIR is embedded in the CAPP system in cases where thesystem’s scope is limited to a small number of the manufacturingfacilities. The integration of MRIR into the CAPP system as anexternal database management system improves flexibility,customization, and enhancement of the entire CAPP system.

Thegenerative, interactive, feature-based and technology-oriented system(GIFTS) is one of the CAPP systems that are used in the processplanning by the manufacturing firms. GIFTS are an automated systemthat is designed for rotational parts of a manufacturing facility(Jasthi 20). This system is designed in modules (including theturbo-model, data-gifts, macro-gifts, micro-gifts, and report-gifts)where each of the module plays a different function. The turbo-modelrepresents the part data as form features. Data-GIFTS acts as adatabase management module, which is used in modeling resourcesrequired in the manufacturing process. The macro-GIFT module playsthe role of planning functions (including set-up planning, machineselection, and operation sequencing) at the part level. Micro-GIFTSare a module used at the operational level to plan for differentoperational activities, including optimization of parameters of theprocess and selection of cutting tools. Report-GIFTS are a modulethat is used to store the planning details that are generated bymicro-GIFTS and Macro-GIFTS.

Thedifferent modules of the CAPP system have historically been used toenhance efficiency in the process planning of symmetrical parts.According to Deb (1) the increase in demand for products of higherquality and the global competition have created the need for theintegration of computers in the manufacturing process. However, mostof the research effort focused on the use of automated CAPP systemfor symmetric parts where the use of computers was intended tofacilitate the computer-aided design and computer aidedmanufacturing. Currently, the CAPP system has been advanced tofacilitate the process planning for non-axisymmetric products thatare deep drawn. This has made a significant contribution inproduction of rectangular, cylindrical, and axisymmetric shapes (Hwan1985).

Futuredevelopments of CAPP technology

Atpresent, research efforts that aim at improving the effectiveness ofthe CAPP technology focus on the further development of generativesystems. This is because the world is shifting away from manual andmoving towards the automation of processes. The focus on thegenerative CAPP gives the promise of the future development of updateplans that will be based on resource availability. In addition,extensive research will help in overcoming the present challenges,including the complete integration of different functional areas(such as manufacturing, design, inspection, and process planning).CAPP systems that are currently in use have stand-alone associatedand rational data base systems (Rao 1). The development of a singledatabase will facilitate the process of complete integration andresolve the prevailing challenges such as lack of capacity of theCAPP system to automatically translate design dimensions andrecognize features. In addition, the future CAPP will focus onenhanced intelligence and flexibility in order to address the demandof the manufacturing world, which is shifting towards advanced andintelligent technology (Azevedo 398). Moreover, the future CAPP willfocus on areas of green manufacturing, biological applications,nano-manufacturing, and circuit board process given the everincreasing world’s sensitivity to environmental issues.


Thecomputer-aided process planning is one the key aspects oftechnological advancement that have been successfully integrated inthe manufacturing sector. Although CAPP technology has been inexistence for about four decades, full integration of its componentshas been achieved and this acts as a source of its limitations.However, the CAPP system has impacted the manufacturing sectorsignificantly by enhancing efficiency, accuracy, saving time,reducing costs, and increasing productivity in all areas of itsapplication. CAPP is recognized as one of the technologies that haveenhanced the use of computer integrated manufacturing, which impliesthat CAPP was primarily developed for use in the manufacturingsector. The future development of CAPP will mainly focus on higherlevels of intelligence, complete integration of different components,and its application in the conservation of the environment.


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Hwan,P. and Prasad, Y. Computeraided process planning for non-axisymmetric deep drawing products.College Park: American Institute of Physics, 2004. Print.

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