Siemens at its two-day PLM Conference in Boston this week highlighted many case studies, but the one by rail freight car maker National Steel Car (NSC) jumped out at me. First, I am a lifelong rail fan and like such products. The other reason was that presenter and NCS CAD Administrator Cory Goulden spoke from the heart in characterizing the challenge of implementing and using 3D CAD. Designs ultimately have to yield profitable products, but there’s lots of frustrating design steps before they enter production. According to Goulden, those steps include “concept, iteration, iteration, iteration, rework…(and finally) production.”
Based in Hamilton, Ontario, National Steel Car is a privately-held 100-year-old maker of container, pellet, steel coil and box cars. Every car is modeled using Siemens UGS Solid Edge PLM software which has assembly files of 5,600 parts, almost all made of steel.
NSC is embracing Siemens UGS’ new Synchronous Technology which promises to accelerate design and make it more flexible. I do not fully understand this new heavily- hyped technology, but if you’re willing to do the research, Siemens UGS has the mother lode of information at its web site, including a white paper and videos. Beware of superlatives. They get in the way of quickly telling you what it is.
But one concrete thing Goulden liked about Synchronous is the average 17% file size reduction that makes design less taxing on computer hardware and memory.
“You always have to be aware what you’re asking the system to do. You yell at your screen and the mouse does not respond,” he quips. “I am part therapist and tell the users it’s going to be ok…but, I don’t deal well with emotion.”
He also said Synchronous Technology will get reduce rework in the design process and allow the company to forecast design times more accurately. A big emphasis of Synchronous Technology is how it eases the interaction between design history and making changes. “Fewer steps mean a faster process,” an UGS executive said in one video. Put another way, UGS asks “How can I make changes as fast as I change my mind?” That’s the promise. anyway.
To Goulden, the ability to compress the design phase ties directly into steel ordering, production and ultimately profitably per freight car. He named another 3D CAD system which NSC tossed out, but in fairness to that product, I would not identify it until I hear their side of the story. I will give them a call and report back.
Goulden was very complimentary of the Siemens UGS presonnel he works with. After all, this was a Siemens UGS conference. But he was believable and clearly his hosts were delighted hearing a customer relate how it tossed out a competitor’s product and replaced it with a Siemens UGS system.