The trend for global markets with increasing international competition is maintaining its steady course. Market pressure and customer expectations call for ever shorter innovation cycles with design-oriented, extremely sophisticated and individualized products – and this at the lowest possible procurement and operating costs. The relevance of mechatronic products with significant electronic and software elements is also constantly increasing.
As early as the infant development stages of a product, manufacturing and maintenance costs of an end product are significantly defined on the basis of requirements and specifications. These decisions, so essentially fundamental for the success of a product should therefore be based on sound and comprehensive information that takes all phases of the product life cycle into account. Targeted knowledge management and close collaboration of all participants within the company, starting from Marketing and Sales to Purchasing, Production, Commissioning as well as Maintenance and the integration of external partners and suppliers is now an essential success factor for companies involved in the field of production.
The complexity trap
The required individualization and wide variety of the range of goods, new markets, extensive statutory provisions as well as ever-increasing innovation and cost pressures lead to a constantly growing complexity within enterprises, which has become increasingly difficult to control. An essential challenge in this respect therefore is the avoidance, reduction or command of complexities in products and processes within the enterprise.
Portfolio and requirement management, internal standardization through module and platform strategies as well as active parts and supplier management provide companies from all industry sectors with sensible approaches to help them get out of the complexity trap. In this sense, all areas within an enterprise are equally called upon for increased interdisciplinary collaboration and to question existing processes, methods and tools.
- Product Portfolio Management: The transparent view of the current and planned product portfolio as well as all latest development projects, that are always in the process of competing for scarce financial and human resources, provide management with a sound decision-making basis
- Requirement Management: Only the targeted entry, classification and organization of all relevant requirements such as customer specifications, legal and ecological regulations, standards, technological requirements, manufacturing and assembly standards, etc. can make constantly growing complexity manageable
- Knowledge Management: The intelligent combination and structuring of large quantities of information from heterogeneous data sources, such as CRM, ERP, SCM, PLM, Internet, email, … with Exalead Search-Based Applications enables quick and sound decision making
- Reporting: The clear evaluation of all data and processes documented in the PLM system, such as repairs and complaints or change orders increases process quality and provides valuable information on optimizing future projects
The planning of the future product portfolio and the identification of new business opportunities should not be based on a look in a crystal ball, it should be based on the assessment of all available information on technology, market trends, competition, unique selling points, customer needs, product technology as well as existing products, processes and procedures within the company.
- Project Management for Development Projects: Efficient and proven process templates for product management, such as the "New Product Introduction" (NPI) template secure shorter and lower risk development projects and are based on recognized project management standards. This provides project managers with pre-conceived milestone plans, project structures and document templates at the start of a project
- Interdisciplinary engineering BOM: The establishment of generic, multidisciplinary product structures across various product lines contributes greatly to standardizing and reutilizing know-how, components and processes to respond to the increasing complexity arising from greater product diversity and variance. The engineering BOM divides the parts of a product from a functional perspective and enables interdisciplinary collaboration and the organization of all information. Functional design: The functional description of the system architecture based on the abstract product function and its sub-functions simplifies the communication and collaboration of the various engineering disciplines, provides clear interface definitions and comprehensibly arranges all relevant functional units into a hierarchical structure that is comprehensible by everybody
- Product variants: As a result of the trend for more individualized products, the planning and management of all potential product variants, as well as their logical dependencies across the entire product life cycle is a particular challenge for serial manufacturers. The use of platform strategies and modular systems today is no longer conceivable without the use of a comprehensive variant and configuration management system.
After the principal formulation of the development order, the concept phase focuses on finding the best realization concept for the new product. To this end, the development teams define various solution principles on the basis of physical cause and effect structures, assess them in terms of technology and profitability, after which the best approaches are then further pursued. To also make use of the collected expert knowledge and the work results for future projects, all documents, meetings and decisions involving the project should be documented even in this early phase of development.
- Product design: Successful products have a conclusive language when it comes to design to ensure brand-specific recognition. To shorten the process from the initial preliminary design to the manufacturing-ready component, alternative design variants must be able to be sketched and valuated quickly and in high surface quality. Ideally, the entire process - from the first design idea and class-A surface modelling (link ICEM), photo-realistic visualization to component and tool engineering - takes place in one authoring system and with one data model. In this manner, the development team can reach the final design quicker by parallelizing tasks, avoiding interface problems as well as time and cost-consuming physical prototypes.
- System design: Loosely based on Aristotle's postulate, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts", special requirements are placed on the modeling and simulation of mechatronic systems due to the interaction of various engineering disciplines. Interdisciplinary, object-oriented description languages such as Modelica® are suitable for model construction, simulation and assessment of the overall system as they document expert knowledge and company know-how in formal notation and make them reusable with libraries.
- Draft design: Among other things, the following aspects are important when designing mechanical components:
- Building on existing conceptual designs and stored knowledge templates to implement the required function as effectively as possible and based on best practices
- Reutilizing existing concepts, components and assemblies, if possible, instead of creating new ones
- Being able to work on extensive product structures simultaneously as a team without any organizational or software-technical restrictions
- Optimizing and validating the geometric design of the product at an early stage with realistic simulations of product functions and the digital mockup
- Virtually testing the product's ergonomics and the suitability for daily application on the basis of anthroposophical human models and in this way optimally attuning the product to its intended user group
- Strength test: In view of the increasing trend toward lightweight construction, and at the same time stricter product liability, the correct design of products and components have taken on on mission-critical significance. Despite the demand for weight and material savings as well as new composite materials, evidence of functional safety must be available in each and every case, if required. In the light of new manufacturing procedures and technologically exhausted components, a multiphysical simulation of manufacturing processes is often necessary to secure stable serial production.
- Tolerance planning: Already during the design phase, function and manufacturing-compliant dimensioning of components is required as it decisively affects the product quality, first impression of the product and product cost. Insufficient tolerance planning frequently leads to costly subsequent changes to components, joining and assembly processes as well as increased rejects in production – on the other hand, "nervous tolerances" make costs of a product skyrocket unnecessarily.
The conceptual design phase is followed by the preliminary design phase, in which the product receives its geometric and creative form. Structural components are inferred from the functional components and given their geometric form and dimensions. To secure the required characteristics, extensive strength and function models are developed and simulated.
- To attain the certainty that a product meets requirements and specifications, the individual system components as well as their interaction are subjected to extensive system tests. The planning of all relevant test scenarios with their underlying requirements is ensured by an integrated requirement and test management system
- The hardware-in-the-loop simulation (HILS) is often implemented to accelerate the validation of control devices and mechatronic components and to ensure reproducible test scenarios. With this simulation technique, one part of the physical system is replaced with a simulation model on a real-time capable HIL simulator
- DELMIA provides the complete functional spectrum of digital manufacturing for the virtual planning and design of production processes and operating resources. In a comprehensive 3D environment, manufacturing processes and resources are planned, tools are developed and directly tested virtually, assembly processes simulated and the system layout optimized
- The tolerance simulation of joining and assembly processes contributes significantly toward detecting quality issues at an early stage while taking static component and process tolerances into account. This secures the process capability in manufacturing and timely serial production launch
- During the validation phase, the product and the manufacturing process are subjected to extensive tests and secured with a pilot series. If errors or optimization potentials now occur, a structured and enterprise-wide change management system system is indispensable in view of the many departments involved and the often complex interactions between product, production resources and the manufacturing process
After the product has been specified, this phase should focus on ensuring that all requirements defined have been met. The planning and securing of the manufacturing process, commissioning of external suppliers as well as the timely availability of operating resources also play an important role.
- Variant configuration accelerates offer creation and handling for high-variant and complex products, thus ensuring "customer-specific standard solutions". This however requires a constantly updated variant BOM with respective configuration rules, which cannot be ensured in the long term without an integrated configuration management system
- Creating complete multilingual technical documentation compliant with the release version is extremely time-consuming and a major challenge for many companies. In the case of high-variant products, the customized configuration is therefore often not fully documented. Using 3D as a universal language, the CATIA Composer can display assembly, commissioning and servicing processes as precise and easily understandable animations
- Configuration management also plays a key role in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of shipped products in order to ensure appropriate product documentation as well as suitable spare parts and maintenance instructions throughout the entire product life cycle
- The spare parts business is gaining significance in many industries and with it, the simple creation and maintenance of spare parts catalogs and their multimedia presentation
- An effective warranty and error management system is an important aspect in ensuring customer satisfaction. In addition, the seamless documentation of all problems and their remedies provides a decisive source of information for the continuous improvement of the product.
If all processes were completed in a structured and coordinated fashion, there is nothing in the way of a successful market launch. Now, enormous costs arise during the course of daily business and the many requests for offers and custom orders as well as the continuous further development and improvement of the product and its manufacturing, which are ultimately lacking for new innovations.
CENIT’s expertise during installation and start-up helped us get off to a smooth start.
CATIA allows us to create complex free-form surfaces and intricate parts with many interior cores, and to reproduce them at any time.