When engineering, production and management at Ingersoll-Rand's (IR) Air Solutions and Heavy Industrial Group made the commitment to move to 3D solid modeling for CAD design, they knew it had to be a "don't-look-back" decision, with a focus on integrating design and production processes from beginning to end.
In the past, the Group's engineers had used a variety of CAD packages and 2D design tools. But now, seven months into the transition process of moving to 3D solid modeling for all groups within IR, the program is impacting every facet of the organization, including sales and marketing, packaging, production and engineering. And the company-wide focus on cycle time and faster product manufacturing is resulting in better product drawings, more accurate parts and faster, more accurate bills of materials.
"The transition has been a challenge," says Dave Traver, a designer at IR, "but it is also rewarding to show drawings and models in conjunction with accurate bills of materials." He says it has been extremely useful for IR's Air Solutions group to show its customers isometric and pictorial views along with standard views when applicable. Traver says they've learned once again that "a picture is worth a 1,000 words."
IR selected the Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire release from PTC Corporation. A significant benefit in the move is the ability for designers to more accurately visualize the design and find interferences between components. Viewing a 3D solid model of each part, and multiple levels of drawings, has instilled confidence that designs will produce a good part on the first try. A specific example is how 3D modeling has eliminated guesswork in the design of oil piping on a compressor where the hoses snaked through the unit in many directions. The greater level of detail in the 3D model has eliminated the problem of attempting to estimate the length of the hose, and the unknown situation it created for the designer wondering if the estimates were correct.
Making the Move
Traver and his supervisor, Joe Brown, along with Aaron Haggard, IT business relationship manager for engineering, agree that the move to 3D modeling across the board is a steep learning curve that demands commitment from management to be a success.
The group also offers advice for other companies on how to make the transition successfully. Since training takes you from work, time your entry based on production schedule.
To accelerate the learning process with the new software, IR has used team focus meetings to talk about the Pro/E transition and schedule. The meetings have helped establish modeling methodologies, corporate design standards, and generate interest in the management group.
IR has also used a combination of mentors provided by PTC and in-house trainers to help designers move up the learning curve and supplement the formal training programs. The in-house trainers have been a valuable resource, offering advice on specific design obstacles, and these interactions have helped solidify design practices and reinforce top-down design strategies.
The Air Solutions Group is halfway to its goal of converting all of its models and product drawing sets to 3D models in 2005. By standardizing components, skeletons and assemblies, establishing configuration files and map keys, databases at IR facilities around the world can be replicated automatically. Now, they're off to finish the job and gain the productivity and cycle time benefits that 3D design offers.
Ingersoll-Rand's Air Solutions and Heavy Industrial Group now designs products like this centac air compressor.