“We need to manage data for an entire product all the way from the conceptual design to the end of its 45-year life cycle,” is how Mark Totten explains why Lockheed Martin’s Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems Div. (NE&SS) configured its new PDM (product data management) system to give subcontractors access to product data. As is the case with many companies coping with legacy PDM systems, NE&SS originally had no mechanism for sharing data with outside design partners.
Recognizing that subcontractors were producing up to 60% of its components, NE&SS realized that situation had to change. In fact, up to 30 outside companies have good reason to access data for a particular design—which raises important security issues because subcontractors both compete and cooperate, depending on the project. “Because the software organizes information by subsystems, we can allow access only to what each contractor needs for a specific job, masking proprietary parts of a design when necessary,” says Totten, who is IDE (Integrated Data Environment) unit manager for the division.
The move to Windchill from PTC (Needham, MA) has also helped to in-crease productivity and cut cycle times by allowing engineers to perform analyses on multiple iterations of a design without going back to CAD each time to obtain the model. “Engineers simply select the configuration they want to analyze and are able to optimize a design based on cost, reliability, and performance data using an existing model,” says Totten.
Facing a similar need to communicate product information to suppliers, as well as company locations outside the U.S., GM installed i-Man PDM software from UGS (Cypress, CA) two years ago. By year’s end, GM expects to have 23,000 seats in use worldwide. “Soon, everyone involved in vehicle design throughout the supply chain will have access to product data,” says Kirk Gutmann, global product develop information officer.
One of the key strengths of the software is that it makes configuration data available to everyone. “We can start with a two-wheel drive vehicle and change it to four-wheel drive, for example, by annotating the assemblies with instructions to the manufacturing engineers on what to do,” Gutmann says. He adds that it once took four to six weeks just to stage data for repeatable digital validation, largely because engineers had to keep changing CAD models. “By using UGS’ lightweight eVis math models instead, we’ve been able to lower that time to two hours.”
Two paths to PDM
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
Using Siemens NX software, a team of engineering students from the University of Michigan built an electric vehicle and raced in the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. One of those students blogged for Design News throughout the race.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.