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Modular Laboratory Approach To Cim Teaching

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.329.1 - 1.329.7

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Paper Authors

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Luis G. Occeña

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1626

Modular Laboratory Approach to CIM Teaching

Luis G. Occeña University of Missouri-Columbia


Traditional CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) instruction usually revolves around a hard-wired CIM cell that comes complete with a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine tool, a robot tending the machine tool, a conveyor system with on-line sensors, a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller), computer interface, and air/power supply. While this setup can give a good demonstration of a working CIM cell, and can also be used for demonstrating certain parts of the system, the real challenge confronting CIM in industrial practice is how to put all these pieces together in the first place.

Unless a company buys into a turnkey installation prepared by a system house (consulting companies specializing in custom-order integration jobs) where the kinks in integrating disparate system components have already been worked out (though not always the case), the reality is that systems integration always comes with components that do not exactly match up, or for which fixes have to be made on the fly. Engineering students who are only exposed to an error-free system, uncomplicated by system bugs and minor incompatibilities, are not prepared to cope with these real world problems.

This paper presents the result of a NSF-ILI project to examine the alternative of teaching students how to integrate system components themselves, from the ground up, making use of basic principles and seeing first hand how everything does not always fit together nicely. A laboratory was established consisting of modular, table-top system components that can be mixed and matched to build many different computer integrated systems using a variety of configurations. The development of this lab and the outcome on student learning of CIM are described in this paper and in the presentation.


Systems integration and control refers to the design, development, and orchestration of both the major and supporting components and functions of a system in a concerted manner. In manufacturing, the major components would be the machine tools, robots, inspection stations, etc., that are involved in the actual manufacturing process; the supporting components would be the conveyor belt, material handling robots,

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Occeña, L. G. (1996, June), Modular Laboratory Approach To Cim Teaching Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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