At a recent industry event we challenged managers and senior engineers, asking them whether any of the following PLM-related issues faced by manufacturing enterprises today were critical for the success of their business:
- Maintaining robust CAD models throughout the product lifecycle
- Reducing the cost of engineering errors and escapes due to 3D data issues
- Rapidly identifying changes in new revisions of customer CAD models
- Accurately translating data for collaboration and manufacturing
- Reducing model rework and lead times for advanced simulation
- Establishing a robust and validated long term archival system
Almost all agreed that one or all of them were, indeed, important factors. However, they went on to say that such issues are often perceived by the budget holders and project leaders as an overhead or annoyance and consequently are not properly addressed due to lack of budget or specific expertise.
In ITI’s experience supporting customer CAD migration and translation initiatives, the associated risks and ultimate cost of not addressing these six issues can far outweigh the investment required to tackle them head on.
Things become even more challenging with the wider adoption of model based engineering (MBE) across industry, where 3D models and their associated 2D drawings are replaced by 3D models containing all necessary 3D product manufacturing information (PMI). The image below shows the attraction of MBE, i.e. when the 3D model is modified, the annotations and 3D PMI are also updated automatically in a single file that can be shared throughout the manufacturing supply chain.
Figure: MBE part with 3D annotations and PMI
However, a good example of the potential interoperability and collaboration issues that MBE can bring, is when an OEM’s supplier receives a new MBE part revision from the OEM, and it no longer comes with a conveniently marked-up 2D drawing showing all of the changes. How does the supplier quickly and accurately identify the changes and disseminate the information to the project team (some of whom will have no CAD access or knowledge), so that they can assess the impact of the changes on design, tooling, project timelines and the ability to deliver to the customer?
Opening old and new revisions of CAD models side-by-side on a CAD workstation and manually inspecting them to discover model revision changes is time consuming, expensive and above all error prone, which means it is simply not a sensible option. In our recent MBE-focused webinar, we discovered that nearly 30% of participants still use email to communicate changes. You can easily understand, or have likely experienced first-hand, the potential pitfalls related to communicating engineering changes via email.
Poll: Out of 50 engineering respondents, 30% were still using email to communicate changes
At ITI we encounter such challenges on a daily basis working with the supply chains of global manufacturing companies, where we have deployed solutions to good effect, whether it be for data migration, MBE model comparison and validation, or the integration of CAD and advanced simulation and manufacturing processes.
If you are faced with any of the six challenges mentioned at the beginning of this piece, we recommend that you explore the solutions and processes available to you that can be put in place to mitigate your potential exposure. A relatively small investment at an early stage before problems arise could reap rewards several times over in the future.
Visit the ITI web site for further information and take a look at our aerospace and automotive industry focus datasheets to discover how we have helped manufacturing enterprises around the world tackle mission critical PLM challenges.