Mechanical Manufacturing and Its Lifecycle

Machinery, Mechanical Manufacturing, and the Mechanical Manufacturing Industry

Machinery refers to the collective term for machines and mechanisms. Generally, machinery refers to tools or devices that assist humans in reducing labor and increasing work efficiency. Items like saws, hammers, etc., fall under this category, known as simple machinery, while complex machinery consists of two or more simple machines. These comparatively complex machines are usually referred to as machines. From the structural and operational perspectives, mechanisms and machines are generally referred to as machinery.

Manufacturing is an eternal theme; the process of human development is a continuous process of manufacturing. In the early stages of human development, to survive, tools such as stone implements were manufactured for hunting. Subsequently, pottery, bronze, iron implements, and simple machines such as knives, swords, bows, arrows, pots, kettles, basins, mills, and waterwheels for agricultural use emerged. With the development of society, the scope and scale of manufacturing continued to expand. The advent of the steam engine brought about the industrial revolution and large-scale industrial production. The manufacturing of jet turbine engines promoted the development of modern jetliners and supersonic aircraft. Every advancement in integrated circuits has enhanced the equipment and application levels of modern computers, and the emergence of micro-nano technology has pioneered the field of micro-machinery. Mechanical manufacturing refers to the use of mechanical methods in the manufacturing process, with two main implications: firstly, using machinery to process parts (or workpieces), more specifically, machining on a machine tool using cutting methods, typically referred to as machine tools or machining centers; secondly, manufacturing a certain kind of machinery, such as manufacturing automobiles, turbines, etc. In summary, mechanical manufacturing is the process of transforming manufacturing resources into products that are available or usable for people, as well as a continuous process of human development by continuously developing natural resources. Striving to minimize resource consumption, minimize environmental pollution, and maximize social and economic benefits are the fundamental purposes of the development of mechanical manufacturing.

The mechanical manufacturing industry refers to the industry engaged in the production of various types of power machinery, lifting and transportation machinery, agricultural machinery, metallurgical and mining machinery, chemical machinery, textile machinery, machine tools, tools, instruments, meters, and other mechanical equipment. The level of development of the mechanical manufacturing industry is one of the main indicators of the country’s industrialization level and is an important pillar industry of the country’s economy.

While the development of mechanical manufacturing technology has improved human material civilization and living standards, it has also caused environmental damage. Since the mid-20th century, the most prominent issue has been the consumption of resources, especially energy, and environmental pollution, severely restricting the development of the manufacturing industry and imposing new requirements on mechanical manufacturing technology. Today, as humanity implements a strategy of sustainable development, the development of mechanical products will focus on tasks such as reducing resource consumption, developing clean renewable energy, and addressing, alleviating, or even eliminating environmental pollution.

Lifecycle of Mechanical Products

Any product in material form will undergo a cyclic process from material acquisition, design, manufacturing, sales, use, and post-use disposal back to the soil. Human life and production are connected to the Earth’s biosphere in this way. The lifecycle of mechanical products includes two meanings: single lifecycle and multiple lifecycles. The single lifecycle of a mechanical product refers to the entire time span from design, manufacturing, assembly, packaging, transportation, use, to disposal. The multiple lifecycles of mechanical products include not only the entire time span of the current product lifecycle but also the time span of the cyclic use and utilization of the product or its related parts in the next generation, subsequent generations, etc., after the current product is scrapped or stopped being used.

The lifecycle design of mechanical products evolved from the concept of concurrent engineering, with the goal of maximizing the contribution of products to society while minimizing harm and costs. In the field of manufacturing, it encompasses the entire process from nature to nature, the sum of all stages of the “from cradle to grave” lifecycle, including the initial resources obtained from nature by the product, energy, raw materials through extraction, smelting, processing processes, until product disposal or treatment, thus forming a material cyclic lifecycle. The full lifecycle of a product includes the design methods of product value, which require achieving all the functions required by the product, as well as its producibility, assemblability, testability, maintainability, transportability, recyclability, and environmental friendliness. The main contents of product full lifecycle design are reliability, maintainability, supportability, testability, and safety. Reliability refers to the probability of failure or malfunction of a product under specified conditions and for a specified period of use; different consequences result from failures or malfunctions, and the study of reliability aims to prevent or eliminate failures and their consequences. Maintainability refers to the ease or difficulty of eliminating faults and restoring functionality when faults occur in products. The main indicators of maintainability are the time and probability of completing maintenance. Supportability refers to the complexity and stringency of the human and material resources required for normal operation of the product; in product design, all types of support issues should be comprehensively considered, support requirements proposed, and support plans formulated to provide the required support resources at the lowest cost during the product use stage. Testability refers to the possibility and ease of understanding the system’s own state through testing. Safety refers to the ability of a product to avoid accidents under specified conditions. Full lifecycle design emphasizes considering safety during the design phase to ensure safety for operators, the product itself, and the environment during subsequent stages of testing, production, transportation, storage, use, and disposal.

Mechanical products are formed through processing, and the optimization level of the processing process affects the quality of the mechanical product lifecycle. A large number of studies and practices have shown that different process schemes for product manufacturing will result in different consumption of materials and energy and different impacts on the environment. Green process planning aims to research and adopt process schemes and routes with minimal material and energy consumption, minimal waste, and minimal environmental pollution according to the actual situation of the manufacturing system. This process planning method is divided into two levels: micro-planning based on single features, including environmental micro-planning and manufacturing micro-planning; macro-planning based on parts, including environmental macro-planning and manufacturing macro-planning. An integrated approach based on the Internet platform is applied to integrate planning issues from part design to the generation of process files. In this process planning method, equal consideration is given to the environmental planning module and the traditional manufacturing module, and through balancing and coordinating between the two, optimized processing parameters are implemented.

Assembly is the final stage of forming a product. Assembly is not only an important link in the material flow but also often the convergence point of multiple material flows. It is a manufacturing technology different from single work processing techniques. Assembly operations should be environmentally conscious, emphasizing the production of less waste, by-products, scrap, and emissions, facilitating disassembly and reassembly in the next lifecycle. To ensure the quality of the entire lifecycle of mechanical products, assembly operations should generally focus on the following three aspects:

Assembly is a key link in determining the final product quality and reliability; therefore, assembly quality should be emphasized.

Assembly has the characteristics of systematization and comprehensiveness; therefore, overall optimization should be emphasized.

The variety and quantity of parts passing through assembly sites or assembly lines are numerous, so orderliness should be emphasized.

The recycling and treatment of products after disposal mark the end of a single lifecycle of the product and may also mark the beginning of multiple lifecycles. Current research considers environmentally oriented product recycling and treatment as a systemic engineering issue. This issue should be fully considered from the beginning of product design and systematically classified. After the end of the product’s service life, there may be various treatment options, such as reuse, recycling, disposal, etc., each with different costs and recycling values. Therefore, various options need to be analyzed and evaluated to determine the best recycling treatment option, aiming to obtain the highest recycling value with the least cost, that is, designing green product recycling treatment plans. Evaluating product recycling treatment plan design mainly examines three aspects: maximizing benefits, minimizing waste, and maximizing the reuse of components, ensuring that as many components as possible enter the next lifecycle.

Remanufacturing is a collective term for technical measures or engineering activities aimed at repairing or modifying waste products to meet or even exceed the technical performance of the original products, guided by the design and management of the product’s entire lifecycle, with the goals of high quality, efficiency, energy conservation, material conservation, and environmental protection, using advanced technology and industrial production means. Remanufacturing begins by processing waste products as raw materials, enabling parts and products that would otherwise have ended their lifecycle to embark on a journey of multiple and complete lifecycles, equal to new parts and products in terms of eligibility.

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