Quickly create detailed work instructions with illustrations.

The aerospace, automotive, and medical industries are governed by strict requirements for manufacturing and quality assurance. As a result, manufacturers place a significant emphasis on creating detailed process planning documentation.

3D Process Planning Suite, DISCUS Desktop with DISCUS 3D and DISCUS Planner add-ons

Why effective process planning is important for your organization

Process planning is an essential part of manufacturing, as it allows a company’s leaders to identify, source, and price the parts necessary for production. A strategic planning process allows decision-makers transparency into factors as varied as sourcing materials and shipping routes. 

Accurate documentation of processes and outcomes is essential for the manufacturing of products that have a direct impact on end-user safety. Effective process planning occurs when engineers are able to utilize platform technology to examine, calculate, and record pertinent information regarding a part. This production scheduling process, executed sequentially until the larger objective is accomplished, results in accurate and detailed documentation of the manufacturing process. The resulting document aligns with governance and regulation specific to the industry producing the created product.

An effective process plan strategy permits your organization to create the products that drive your business. This complex assembly process can now be completed without interruption in order to ensure compliance with strict and essential regulatory requirements.

The typical process planning scenario involves manufacturing engineers, process engineers, and quality engineers combining a variety of ad hoc tools in order to create manufacturing planning.

Traditional process planning involves the following steps:

  • An engineer utilizes a complex and expensive CAD platform to analyze a part and extract pertinent details.
  • Notes and calculations are uploaded into programs like Excel and Word. 
  • The engineer progresses to PowerPoint and Paint to create manufacturing documentation. 
  • Finally, the engineer combines the necessary salient data (operations, work centers, durations, etc.) into the ERP system.

In order to achieve the objectives necessary for effective process planning documentation, engineers are required to deftly navigate multiple platforms, each presenting the opportunity for user error. The compounding effect of one minor oversight could have implications that affect the entirety of the objective, putting your organization at risk of violating regulatory compliance.

The challenges associated with process planning

As a result of multiple steps executed across a variety of software, the effort for process planning — similar to the creation of First Article Inspection (FAI) is both resource-extensive and error-prone. Ensuring that every characteristic from the Technical Data Package (TDP) is addressed and validated during production is an important objective of process planning — but it has remained an elusive one.

Here are some of the common errors and omissions regarding process planning: 

  • Process validation procedures weren’t correctly established.
  • Did not accurately document all activities.
  • Failed to review/evaluate processes after changes/process deviations occurred.
  • Failed to evaluate/validate product functionality and packaging integrity weren’t performed.

Successful process planning documentation requires meticulous attention to detail, which can become daunting when inspecting detailed elements of parts through complicated CAD models. 

Elements of process planning that require strict documentation include:

  • Part number accountability. As part of FAI, this form includes names, serial numbers, and report numbers.
  • Product accountability. This layer involves the specification of raw materials, special processes and testing.
  • Characteristic accountability. This process evaluates verification and compatibility. 

In the case of the aerospace industry, these accountability checks combine to form AS9102 documentation, a specific regulatory requirement for manufacturing and quality. 

Given the complex nature of proper process planning documentation, many manufacturers have turned to comprehensive platform solutions to ease the burden on their workforce.

DISCUS solutions for process planning

If your business could benefit from more effective process planning, it’s time to consider reducing the stress of your manufacturing protocols with DISCUS solutions. With DISCUS, combine three production process modules into one comprehensive solution that services multiple manufacturing and quality assurance activities: 

DISCUS 3D Process Planning Suite

DISCUS Desktop allows you to create and manage the TDP and identify characteristics and requirements from both 2D drawings and specification documents. By utilizing the drag and drop functionality, the simplicity and ease of use will increase productivity while reducing process design error. Desktop combines Google-based OCR technology with unique image processing capabilities that can identify, annotate, and extract engineering requirements from multiple formats, including PDF or TIIFF. This functionality relives tedious manual extraction and serves as the foundation for your manufacturing and project management activities. 

DISCUS 3D allows you to interrogate native 3D models and annotations in order to automatically identify characteristics and illustrations. Utilizing DISCUS 3D will dramatically reduce the time once previously spent learning the nuances and processes of 3D models. By identifying common characteristics — such as thickness — that are difficult to spot with PMI, your workforce will be able to expedite their manual process planning documentation.

DISCUS Planner manages the characteristics relevant to specific operations and handles the creation of process illustrations and work instructions. DISCUS Planner reduces the time and effort required to create detailed setup verification and operation inspection sheets. In addition to these primary features, DISCUS Planner automatically generates an operations analysis to indicate characteristics and “delta” values by operation. 

By combining the drawing/model and Bill of Characteristics, DISCUS offers a complete solution that enables your workforce to generate a structured set of manufacturing documentation. This includes a summary routing — and for each operation — the work instructions, inspection sheets, and process illustrations. 

This enforces a reduction of errors by ensuring that all characteristics are addressed during the specific manufacturing steps. The use of DISCUS Planner has reduced the time involved in creating manufacturing planning documentation by upwards of 50%.

The DISCUS solution for process planning, 3D Process Planning Suite, involves three DISCUS modules – DISCUS Desktop, DISCUS 3D and Discuss Planner.

When it comes to efficiency in the face of compliance to manufacturing and quality assurance expectations, your business deserves the operational advantage only a planning process solution can offer.

You can learn more about the specific DISCUS modules on the Products page, and you can review the pricing for the discounted bundles on the Pricing page.