About This Project

Computer-Aided Design

In 1983, The Warren Centre had endorsed the area of Advanced Manufacturing Technology. Of all the computer-based technologies in manufacturing it was evident that Computer Aided Design/ Computer Aided Manufacturing, CAD/CAM, was receiving least attention.

The advantages of CAD/CAM in giving economies of scope are particularly significant to Australian manufacturing. Aggressive attention to non-price market factors and the implementation of CADS/CAM should have major positive impacts on the international competitiveness of Australian factories.  Underlying the selection of CAD/CAM as a project was the belief that CAD/CAM is widely applicable to Australia’s manufacturing businesses and that it may be more important here than overseas because of the high-variety/low-volume mix of most Australian production.

In summary, it enabled efficient changeover between different products being produced on the same machines.


The objectives of the project were:

  • To outline the structure and characteristics of Australian factories that would be viable in the future;
  • To examine the appropriate roles for computer aided drafting and design systems in these factories;
  • To examine the likely influences of these systems on the product and process engineering work systems and the general functioning of a factory.

Importantly, The Warren Centre analysis gave detailed consideration to the question of integrating work systems to obtain benefits that went beyond improvements in drafting efficiency. The project identified opportunities for considerably reducing costs and lead times as well as for improving quality and product design.

The project’s major recommendations included:

  • Highly motivated people with the right skills were the single most important element in successful CAD applications;
  • A business strategy framework was a prerequisite to implementation;
  • Planning must begin with opportunity assessment;
  • CAD/CAM was only the beginning of a long process of improvement;
  • The lead time required for CAD and CAM made timing of implementation critical;
  • Government policies should encourage CAD/CAM implementation;
  • Inhibitors to CAD applications involve human factors and require management attention;
  • While CAD/CAM could make improvements, it was not a panacea.

Over the past twenty years there has undoubtedly been a sea change in Australia’s manufacturing industries with implementation of CAD/CAM systems and concentration on Australian designed products. This has resulted in:

  • Higher Quality Manufacture;
  • Shorter Lead Times In the introduction of new products;
  • Lower Cost Manufacturing;
  • Significant decrease in inventories;
  • Impressive growth in exports of manufactured products;
  • Senator The Honourable John Button, the then Minister of Industry and Commerce, became a champion for the introduction of CAD/CAM systems;
  • As a result of the issues raised by this project, The Warren Centre established a follow-on project, ‘WINNING BY DESIGN’, to encourage government and industry to focus on the benefits of improving Australia’s industrial design capabilities and on the practicalities of introducing CAD;
  • The project stimulated the creation of CAD BUREAUS eg Computer Engineering Applications Pty Ltd which enabled smaller manufacturers to access the benefits of CAD/CAM;
  • CAD in conjunction with CNC (computer numerical control) equipment purchased by SME’s resulted in significant reduction in production costs.

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