Ray Kurland, president of the CAD consulting firm TechniCom, Inc. (www.technicom.com) tells clients a cautionary tale, the story of "Company X." Company X used only a few dozen unique parts but pre-built hundreds of assemblies in hopes of saving delivery time and gaining efficiency in engineering and manufacturing. But inventory was high, manufacturing costs were excessive, delivery times were long - they never seemed to have the right assemblies in stock - and engineering costs were out of control.
Company X decided to replace their old 2D CAD system with a 3D system, but they used the 3D system in much the same way that they used the old 2D system. They never fully utilized the benefits of 3D CAD, they didn't get costs under control, and now they are no longer in business.
According to Kurland, today's environment demands an organization's best effort in terms of quality, productivity, responsiveness, and cost. A CAD system purchased today is likely to last for seven years, and when you are looking at a new CAD system, you need to ask what efficiencies must be gained within that time frame.
When buying a CAD system, Kurland says, it's vital that all members of the selection team understand their organization's strategic issues and its product development environment. To make sure your company doesn't become the next Company X follow these steps: Before purchasing a system, know where and why improvement is most needed, know how system effectiveness is to be measured, and have a clear understanding of what metrics should be used.
Take a look at what's worked for Moen, JR Automation and Foxconn and how they solved their unique 3D CAD challenges with new developments in 3D CAD Software.
Reducing Time to Market with better views and shading
Moen (www.moen.com), a leading manufacturer of kitchen and bath fixtures selected a system that helps shorten time-to-market. Engineering systems administrator Mike Brattoli says that improved styling features, such as swept blends, in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0, enable Moen engineers to design highly aesthetic products more quickly, using fewer features. "Improvements in the surfacing tools will help us shorten our time-to-market and provide us with a competitive advantage," he predicts.
A new shaded-view feature in Wildfire 3.0 also offers advantages, according to Brattoli. "We deal with many manufacturers overseas, and a 2D line drawing is not always clear," he explains. "The ability to include shaded views in drawings is going to significantly decrease our manufacturing costs by improving our ability to effectively communicate with groups overseas." Brattoli explains that the feature can reduce if not eliminate conference calls with manufacturers to clarify drawings. "This will help to reduce our time to market," he says.
JR Automation Technologies
Lean manufacturing with easy-to-understand designs
JR Automation Technologies LLC (www.jrauto.com) selected a system based on its need to improve productivity. JR Automation designs and builds lean manufacturing, material handling, testing, and other systems for automotive, consumer goods, and office furniture manufacturers. "Quality improvements in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 are going to significantly improve my productivity," says mechanical engineer Vaughn McDaniel.
"The Process Wizard in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 is also going to be extremely useful in our environment," McDaniel continues. "We have a couple of FEA experts who use the application regularly, but the majority of the engineers don't use it that often, so they are always refreshing themselves on exactly what needs to be done. With the wizard, you have that refresher at your fingertips, so any engineer can just jump in and start with the analysis."
McDaniel adds that JR Automation engineers previously spent a lot of time with customers in design reviews, explaining and clarifying details of the design. "Now with Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0, we can add shaded views to the drawings, removing the ambiguity, and allowing us to discuss design details with customers in a quarter of the time," he says.
Technicom's Kurland suggests that manufacturers consider what benefits a new CAD system can provide, over what time period, compared with a system already in place. Desired performance improvements, such as an enhanced ability to communicate design data, then become requirements for the new system. Careful analysis of issues such as product quality, time-to-market, response to RFPs, and the ability to access and reuse portions of prior designs, can indicate the need for cutting-edge CAD technology.
JR Automation's McDaniel says that the sketcher palette in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 "is going to increase productivity by making it extremely easy to reuse common sections. Having multiple sections at your fingertips and being able to customize the sketches in the palette allows us to create new features in a fraction of the time."
Foxconn International Holdings
Using the new sketcher palette to reduce time to market
"Time to market is critical; being second to market can significantly lower revenues, notes Jerry Hsieh, CAD/CAM Center director at Foxconn International Holdings (www.foxconn.com), a large manufacturer of handsets and other electronic equipment. "The productivity improvements in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 are going to enable Foxconn designers to work faster while maintaining the quality of their work, enabling us to meet our time-to-market goals."
Since Foxconn creates many design variants from its main product line, Hsieh estimates that the sketcher palette in Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 will increase productivity by 15%. "Having frequently used shapes at our fingertips for reuse saves significant design time," he says. Other useful design enhancements in Foxconn's new CAD system include the ability to pattern a pattern, and to create partial shells. "This additional design flexibility gives us a simplified workflow, allowing us to more accurately meet the needs of our customers in terms of product design and speed to market," he says.
Make the most of CAD
The right CAD technology and effective processes can make or break an organization's product development effort. Time-to-market is critical, as is the ability to respond quickly to market opportunities and changes in customers' requirements while maintaining or improving product quality. Organizations today are shortening time-to-market by eliminating superfluous steps, communicating more clearly, reusing portions of prior designs wherever possible, and otherwise doing more with less. There is simply no other way to survive and to create a better future than "Company X".