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Computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) is the manufacturing approach of using computers to control the entire production process. This integration allows individual processes to exchange information with each other and initiate actions. Although manufacturing can be faster and less error-prone by the integration of computers, the main advantage is the ability to create automated manufacturing processes. Typically CIM relies on closed-loop control processes, based on real-time input from sensors. It is also known as flexible design and manufacturing.
Computer-integrated manufacturing is used in automotive, aviation, space, and ship building industries. The term "computer-integrated manufacturing" is both a method of manufacturing and the name of a computer-automated system in which individual engineering, production, marketing, and support functions of a manufacturing enterprise are organized. In a CIM 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 the operations.
As a method of manufacturing, three components distinguish CIM from other manufacturing methodologies:
CIM is an example of the implementation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in manufacturing.
CIM implies that there are at least two computers exchanging information, e.g. the controller of an arm robot and a micro-controller of a CNC machine.
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