Posts Tagged "CAD"

More often PLM starts as a CAD/Design data vault for many companies, later evolving to a design data exchange platform .  Most successful companies are taking PLM beyond just a design data exchange and access control platform; to a knowledge driven decision support system.  This means PLM not only needs to manage the multitude of information generated at various stages of the product lifecycle , but also capture the product development knowledge and feed it back to the product lifecyccle. For example, the requirements and design for a newer version of a product  needs to be also driven by the knowledge elements captured from the previous version’s lefecycle, from inception to design to manufacturing and service.

When PLM stays just in the Design Engineering world, it’s constrained to exchange information and capture knowledge from downstream stages managed by disconnected, silo based systems. This results in engineers spending huge amount of time in data acquisition tasks. Industry studies shows that information workers spend 30-40% of their time only for information gathering and analysis, thus wasting time in searching for nonexistent information, failing to find existing information, validating the information or recreating information that can’t be found.

Quality escapes is another challenge with such disconnected systems when product doesn’t confirm with the engineering definition. Non-conformances found on the shop floor  are costly to review and dispose and even more severe when the product is already on service. Reconciling change is also extremely challenging, especially its downstream propagation, resulting in significant productivity losses. Slow change processing along with quality escapes cause delays in new product introduction affecting the overall ability of the companies to compete.

The first step towards transforming PLM to a true knowledge driven decision support system is to extend it to the CAD/CAM/CNC process chain, thus taking it to the shopfloors. Such a solution helps to establish a  continuous loop from Engineering into the shop floor for operations management and manufacturing execution systems (MES). Such a continuous loop system provide more ways to capture the business intelligence and then suggest solutions based on the previous patterns. Then it’s much easier to capture information and use analytics to synthesize valuable knowledge elements compared to the fragmented solutions many companies have today.  It’s also a foundational element for establishing a Digital Twin per Industry 4.0 vision

 

Other key benefits of extending PLM to manufacturing include

Reducing the time to market

  • Enhanced collaboration between Product and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Enhanced Traceability and Faster Change Management

Enhancing Flexibility

  • Manufacturing plans comprehend product variability/complexity
  • “What if” scenarios for optimized decision making

Increasing Quality

  • Manufacturing Simulation and validation integrated in PLM
  • Up-to-date 3D work instructions delivered to the shop floor

Increasing Efficiency

  • Ongoing process optimization based on Closed loop feedback of utilization data
  • Reuse of common methods/tooling

There was a day when it was unlikely that a company would buy a 3D CAD system without extensively evaluating it.  They required demos, trials, benchmarks, pilot projects and extensive financial ROI analysis.  Are those days gone?  Early in my career, I made a living by simply being able to demonstrate relatively new 3D CAD technology.  These days, a demo is rarely required for purchases of 3D CAD.  Decisions about a company’s core 3D CAD package have generally been previously made, or are now based on data formats of customers or suppliers.

It seems that 3D CAD is simply now an expected part of product development processes and an integral part of PLM in general.  The specific version of 3D CAD doesn’t seem to be nearly as critical as companies previously expected them to be.  Most can now get the job done in small to mid-size companies, with minor differences depending on the specific situation.

There does still seem to be a “pecking order” for the various CAD systems in the manufacturing sector.  The large companies with the broadest set of requirements (and the deepest pockets) generally define the standard.  This includes the Automotive and Aerospace OEMs as an example.  Once they settle on a primary CAD system, many other suppliers base their CAD requirements upon the OEM’s decision.  This doesn’t automatically mean the suppliers choose the same CAD system; just that the supplier needs to be able to communicate and exchange data with the OEM in an efficient manner.  Often times, an automotive supplier will obtain a license or two of the OEM’s chosen CAD software, but it will not be deployed across their entire environment.  The “Top-Tier” CAD that the OEM decided upon may only be used to translate and communicate directly with the OEM, while the bulk of their CAD users might be using a “Mid-Tier” CAD system that is perfectly capable of meeting the supplier’s design requirements.  A host of emerging cloud based CAD technology is also available.

 

So what does this mean to the industry?  Focus on the next thing.  Maybe that is a fully electronic PLM environment, or updated NC or additive manufacturing software.  It could be the adoption of up-front simulation technology to accelerate the design cycle.  There are a lot of things from a technology continuity perspective that can still be addressed once the CAD platform has been settled upon.  Just don’t lose sight of other opportunities for continuous improvement once your CAD house is in order.

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