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October 31, 2005
People are always searching for the next 'big thing' and in the 1980s manufacturing professionals were talking of CIM - Computer Integrated Manufacturing.
Nowadays the term CIM is hardly used but people do talk about PLM (Product Life-cycle Managment) and now also DM (Digital Manufacturing) – aren't these just aspects of CIM rebranded?
If you look at Wiki it says that CIM is "manufacturing supported by computers. It is the total integration of Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing and also other business operations and databases.
This term has generally been replaced by Manufacturing Process Management in the wideer field of PLM - Product Lifecycle Management."
According to the Computer and Automated Systems Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
"CIM is the integration of total manufacturing enterprise by using integrated systems and data communication coupled with new managerial philosophies that improve organizational and personnel efficiency."
So, from these viewpoints CIM is more than simply the automation of process equipment and material handling devices supported by computers as a means of improving efficiency in manufacture – simply an engineering solution at a factory level – but extends throughout the life of a product. If so, then has PLM simply become the natural evolution of CIM, or instead has CIM been redefined in the context of PLM to make it more relevant?
What about Digital Manufacturing? – is this CIM as it was first conceived: a technological solution to automate the factory? Or is it more than this?