Troy, OH--Shifting from a mainframe-based CADAM design environment to PC/Windows-based CAD has fostered better product design for PMI Food Equipment Group, says the major manufacturer of commercial kitchen equipment.
The switch to CSC/MICROCADAM's Helix Design System is apparently letting sales, engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and customer service departments work together on product design from the outset. "This way we can design a product up-front, anticipating potential problems so that we can build, service, and sell without these problems showing up later," says Bob Strouse, director of technical service.
PMI Food Equipment Group is reportedly the world's largest consumer of stainless-steel sheet metal. The $1.5 billion company designs and manufactures a large mix of commercial cooking equipment, from fryers to ovens, food machines, weighing and wrapping equipment, commercial refrigerators, and bakery equipment.
The mainframe CAD system couldn't provide concurrent engineering capabilities, Strouse says. Instead, it compelled a centralized engineering environment that lacked flexibility and portability, affecting overall productivity.
PMI switched to the Helix PC/Windows-based CAD system in two steps. First it got off the mainframe and installed a PC LAN for its design engineers. Then it wrestled with which PC-based design package to install company-wide.
Benefits included saving costs and training time by making the switch within the same family of CAD products, and not having to convert a 120,000-drawing database into another package's format, Strouse asserts. Instead, PMI merely moved its database from the mainframe CADAM to Helix.
Helix and a wide-area network help PMI foster a paperless engineering environment by sharing data from plant to plant. PMI engineers can cut and paste between software products on their PCs for added design productivity. For example, engineers can lift information from Helix into a spreadsheet or cut and paste instructions from the word processing program into the Helix model.
Productivity gains have also resulted from sharing data with third party vendors whose components go into PMI products. "Helix allows us to import DXF or IGES files from the supplier's CAD system, as well as bring in their spec sheets or product data into our database without having to redraw," says Steve North, PMI senior software engineer.
Helix enabled PMI's drafting department to convert 120,000 paper drawings into electronic files by scanning them in TIFF format, which CSC/MICROCADAM's Helix Raster Engineering(TM) reads. Thus, PMI has replaced thousands of paper drawings stored in a warehouse by storing them in the MICROCADAM database.
Some drawings date back for decades, but these are not dormant archives. Strouse explains that since PMI's products "last forever," some of its equipment, built in the 1940s, might still be in use. If the owner wants to make a modification, the design changes become simple.