computer-integrated manufacturing

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computer-integrated manufacturing

[kəm′pyüd·ər ¦int·ə‚grād·əd ‚man·ə′fak·chər·iŋ]
(industrial engineering)
A computer-automated system in which individual engineering, production, marketing, and support functions of a manufacturing enterprise are organized; functional areas such as design, analysis, planning, purchasing, cost accounting, inventory control, and distribution are linked through the computer with factory floor functions such as materials handling and management, providing direct control and monitoring of all process operations. Abbreviated CIM.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Computer-integrated manufacturing

A system in which individual engineering, production, and marketing and support functions of a manufacturing enterprise are organized into a computer-integrated system. Functional areas such as design, analysis, planning, purchasing, cost accounting, inventory control, and distribution are linked through the computer with factory floor functions such as materials handling and management, providing direct control and monitoring of all process operations.

Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) may be viewed as the successor technology which links computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), robotics, numerically controlled machine tools (NCMT), automatic storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), flexible manufacturing systems (FMS), and other computer-based manufacturing technology. Computer-integrated manufacturing is also known as integrated computer-aided manufacturing (ICAM). Autofacturing includes computer-integrated manufacturing, but also includes conventional machinery, human operators, and their relationships within a total system. See Computer-aided design and manufacturing, Flexible manufacturing system, Robotics

Agile manufacturing and lean manufacturing

The CIM factory concept includes both soft and hard technology. Soft technology can be thought of as the intellect or brains of the factory, and hard technology as the muscles of the factory. The type of hard technology employed depends upon the products or family of products made by the factory. For metalworking, typical processes would include milling, turning, forming, casting, grinding, forging, drilling, routing, inspecting, coating, moving, positioning, assembling, and packaging. For semiconductor device fabrication, typical processes would include layout, etching, lithography, striping, lapping, polishing, and cleaning, as well as moving, positioning, assembling, and packaging. More important than the list of processes is their organization.

Whatever the products, the CIM factory is made up of a part fabrication center, a component assembly center, and a product assembly center. Centers are subdivided into work cells, cells into stations, and stations into processes. Processes comprise the basic transformations of raw materials into parts which will be assembled into products. In order for the factory to achieve maximum efficiency, raw material must come into the factory at the left end and move smoothly and continuously through the factory to emerge as a product at the right end. No part must ever be standing; each part is either being worked on or is on its way to the next workstation.

In the part fabrication center, raw material is transformed into piece parts. Some piece parts move by robot carrier or automatic guided vehicle to the component fabrication center. Other piece parts (excess capacity) move out of the factory to sister factories for assembly. There is no storage of work in process and no warehousing in the CIM factory. To accomplish this objective, part movement is handled by robots or conveyors of various types. These materials handlers serve as the focus or controlling element of work cells and workstations. Each work cell contains a number of workstations. The station is where the piece part transformation occurs from a raw material to a part, after being worked on by a particular process.

Components, also known as subassemblies, are created in the component assembly center. Here materials handlers of various types, and other reprogrammable automation, put piece parts together. Components may then be transferred to the product assembly center, or out of the factory (excess capacity) to sister factories for final assembly operations there. Parts from other factories may come into the component assembly center of this factory, and components from other factories may come into the product assembly center of this factory. The final product moves out of the product assembly center to the product distribution center or in some cases directly to the end user. See Automation

The premise of CIM is that a network is created in which every part of the enterprise works for the maximum benefit of the whole enterprise. Independent of the degree of automation employed, for example, whether it is robotic or not, the optimal organization of computer hardware and software is essential. The particular processes employed by the factory are specific to the product being made, but the functions performed can be virtually unchanged in the CIM factory no matter what the product. These typical functions include forecasting, designing, predicting, controlling, inventorying, grouping, monitoring, releasing, planning, scheduling, ordering, changing, communicating, and analyzing.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(1) (Computer-Integrated Manufacturing) Integrating office/accounting functions with automated factory systems. Point of sale, billing, machine tool scheduling and supply ordering are part of CIM.

(2) (CompuServe Information Manager) The software provided by CompuServe for installation in a subscriber's computer to access available services.

(3) (Common Information Model) A model for describing management information from the DMTF. CIM is implementation independent, allowing different management applications to collect the required data from a variety of sources. CIM includes schemas for systems, networks, applications and devices, and new schemas will be added. It also provides mapping techniques for interchange of CIM data with MIB data from SNMP agents and MIF data from DMI-compliant systems. See JMAPI and WBEM.
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