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Rapid Response Manufacturing in Detail

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"The RRM program objective was to shorten time-to-market, improve quality-to-cost, and enhance product reliability in order to provide the US manufacturing infrastructure competitive advantage in a variety of global market sectors. Efforts to accomplish this objective focused on coordinating and extending the application of feature-based solids modeling, knowledge-based systems, integrated data management, and direct manufacturing technologies in a cooperative computing environment.

"The intent in RRM was to implement available technology by achieving interoperability between existing commercial software applications and across the existing legacy systems used by the partners through the use of open architecture. The program was directed through practical application and integration of existing commercial software through enhancements. Development efforts focused on interoperability and ease of use.1"


Each manufacturing firm (including Oak Ridge Y-12) selected a different product family for development. The processes used to produce the parts of these families were the baseline against which progress was measured. The part families included connecting rods (Ford), brake cylinders (GM), antenna housings (Texas Instruments), and families of turned parts and milled/drilled parts (Y-12).

Rapid Response Manufacturing coordinated and extended the application of integrated product and process modeling, knowledge-based applications, and direct manufacturing in a cooperative computing environment. Each participating firm measured progress of the program relative to seven key system capabilities intended to reduce design-manufacturing cycle time, improve the quality-to-cost ratio, and improve reliability. These seven capabilities included:

  1. Establishing complete models of design and process data.
  2. Improving access to product and process knowledge.
  3. Accurately producing the first part.
  4. Developing products in a single iteration.
  5. Demonstrating portability of product models among manufacturers.
  6. Creating new designs from mathematical variations of proven designs.
  7. Manufacturing parts directly from design models.

The program consisted of research and development in four inter-related technical areas::

  1. Integrated Product and Process Models – Product and process data were represented in a single, comprehensive model, so that changes in either affect all related downstream functions. To ensure interoperability, models that represent common characteristics and processes were developed. Product models capture geometry, part features, tolerance information, design and manufacturing constraints, assembly information, specifications and notes, and materials information. Process models captured process plans, operator work instructions for fabrication and assembly, numerical control tool paths and setup instructions, machine tool control, tool designs (for fixtures, jigs, and dies), and dunnage.
  2. Engineering Environment – The Engineering Environment was the computer hardware and software Infrastructure. Hardware included file servers, workstations, and networking lines and equipment. The environment supported data repositories containing company- and factory-specific information for engineering materials, standard components, design analysis characteristics, process specifications, design guides, manufacturing processing equipment, and cutting tools. The databases were structured to support direct information access by engineers and were accessed by knowledge-based application software. The environment included data management, version control, and configuration control facilities for product models. The user interface was a critical portion of the environment.
  3. Knowledge Based Applications – The Knowledge Based applications drew on feature-based product models, models of manufacturing processes, and databases of materials to conduct design optimization and manufacturing production plans which can be downloaded directly to the factory floor.
  4. Direct Manufacturing – Manufacturing test beds were located at a central site in Michigan, with remote sites at Texas Instruments, and Oak Ridge. These sites were established to validate Rapid Response Manufacturing by directly manufacturing products from design software. Traditional machining equipment as well as various types of freeform fabrication machinery was used in this effort.

1 Allen & Jarman, Collaborative R&D : Manufacturing's New Tool, John Wiley & Sons, 1999


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This page last updated 05 June 2004

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