Case Study

Making the design of fuel and energy products more efficient

NPO Iskra

Siemens PLM Software technology helps NPO Iskra develop better gas compressors; company streamlines development process, significantly reducing errors through knowledge re-use

Strong product lines across industries

The Iskra Joint-Stock Research and Production Association (known as OAO NPO Iskra and NPO Iskra) is among the leading Russian aerospace companies. NPO Iskra also provides product offerings for a variety of other industries. Headquartered at the special-purpose Design Bureau №172 in the Perm Lenin Engineering Facility, the company was established in 1955 to develop missiles.

Today, the company makes solid fuel rocket boosters, nozzles and rocket systems for the aerospace industry, and gas compressor units, gas turbine power plants and centrifugal compressors for the energy industry. NPO Iskra also produces equipment for the oil and petrochemical industry as well as personnel rescue systems and machinery across industries.

NPO Iskra’s excellent scientific and engineering capabilities include unique design and manufacturing facilities, as well as extensive production, laboratory, computing, and testing facilities, enabling the company to become a leader in the solid fuel engines market.

An optimal price/quality ratio

As NPO Iskra focused its energies on providing complex energy and fuel-related products, the company realized that it needed to improve the efficiency of its product design process. This was especially true for the gas compressor units (GCU) and gas turbine power plants (GTPP), where the company specializes in providing complex parts to both OEMs and large supply chains.

As a result, NPO Iskra wanted to adopt better product development and data management tools. In 2006-2007, the company thoroughly evaluated the best CAD and data management systems on the market with particular interest in specific capabilities. These included advanced 3D product development; enterprise collaboration and concurrent project development; associativity support for design documents including BOMs, assembly drawings, outline drawings, and installation and detail drawings; and change management.

The company was also concerned with the software’s ability to support tight spatial integration, which is a key aspect in the design of highly complex fuel and energy equipment. Flexibility and the ability to facilitate rapid development were crucial. Project development time is extremely short on these types of projects while the local installation conditions for each GCU and GTPP are different. In addition, low total cost of ownership, user-friendly interface and fast deployment were also essential selection factors

After Iskra’s experts evaluated the available solutions, they made their conclusion for CAD – Solid Edge® software from Siemens PLM Software. “Solid Edge featured the most extensive functionality and suited our needs well,” says Tatiana Boyarshinova, senior designer and workgroup manager at NPO Iskra. “Solid Edge was also easy to learn and use. It was an optimal choice considering the functionality/price ratio.”

Today, NPO Iskra uses three Siemens PLM Software applications as key elements in the company’s development strategy, which relies on IT deployment at every stage in product development and manufacturing. The company employs Solid Edge for product development, engages Teamcenter® software for collaborative product data management (PDM) and product lifecycle management (PLM), and uses NX™ software for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).


NPO Iskra purchased its first Solid Edge licenses in 2001. The first step to mastering the new system was training NOP Iskra’s experts under the company’s contract with Siemens PLM Software. “The training gave our engineers a real productivity jump start,” says Mikhail Burnyshev, vice director general for NPO Iskra’s Fuel and Energy Equipment group. “The skills gained were quickly in demand as we implemented a rather complex pilot project. Moreover, the investments in people development that we made back in 2001-2002 have been fully returned, and then some.”

In 2007, NPO Iskra added additional Solid Edge and Teamcenter licenses, as well as utilized Siemens PLM Software’s consulting services. This stage started with a workstation update as well as Solid Edge and Teamcenter installation and customization. Siemens PLM Software’s office in Yekaterinburg provided basic Solid Edge and Teamcenter training to 10 NPO Iskra specialists; shortly thereafter some 40 more engineers were trained.

Training on Solid Edge and Teamcenter, which also covered the basics of enterprise collaboration, was highly important for implementation of the pilot project. In fact, the project was intended to drive several key business objectives: the company wanted to master its new approach for product development, create an initial 3D database and establish a digital directory that it could use for process management and daily usage. The intent was to perform these tasks in a way that would ultimately lead to faster and more cost-efficient product design and documentation development.

Pilot project

The next step was to select a product for the pilot project and put a team of experts together for its development. A gas compressor unit was selected. A crucial aspect of gas compressor unit development is the design of complex spatial components that mainly consist of simple geometric shapes and intensive pipe routing. In addition, typically GCU designs make extensive use of frames, trusses and structures made of regular rolled steel. As a result, the company’s development approach for the pilot included a number of essential requisites. These included developing a digital mockup for the GPA-25 Ural unit and generating design documentation from the models; testing concurrent team practices using Solid Edge under Teamcenter management; creating guidelines for making the 3D models and associative drawings with Solid Edge and testing the guidelines under the pilot project; and managing the collaborative inter-departmental processes used for creating the 3D models.

As NPO Iskra refined its development approach, the need to establish material and OEM part libraries became obvious. As a result, an in-house standard parts library was created using Solid Edge standard parts. Today, the library is used to facilitate concurrent team work on various projects. Digital models created from the library comply with multiple regulatory requirements. Furthermore, the library can be easily expanded and updated.

During the course of the pilot project, all the material data sheets were arranged and fed into Teamcenter from the M3 ERP system to also establish a materials library. Siemens PLM Software consultants developed a dedicated module to transfer the materials’ properties and attributes between the classification tools of Teamcenter and the 3D models of Solid Edge. The module also finds masses and centers of gravity for OEM 3D models.

Importance of integrated technology

The GCU’s top-level assembly was created by several dozen engineers; each of whom developed a specific component or sub-assembly. The project manager supervised the designers’ work by reviewing the top-level GCU assembly in Solid Edge. Solid Edge highlighted all mismatches between the various components so that the designers were able to understand the issues at hand. The project manager promptly assigned design tasks to specific engineers who worked in the context of the top-level GCU assembly.

The company’s development approach leveraged the project tree in Teamcenter that consists of two parts: the draft (a working part) and the clean copy (the approved part). The product’s digital mockup is currently being developed. Once it is finished and approved, a detailed digital mockup will be made. These digital mockups (across all of the CGU systems) will then be leveraged in conjunction with the change management tools of the integrated solution (Solid Edge and Teamcenter) and BOM generation capabilities. NPO Iskra is now able to employ traceable change management to ensure the integrity of the digital mockup’s approved parts.

The pilot project has already produced several significant tangible results. The gas compressor unit’s digital mockup (the working part) has been completed and the concurrent design approach has been implemented. In addition, a series of guidelines for concurrent 3D modeling with Solid Edge under Teamcenter management is ready. While the pilot project is rapidly moving to conclusion, NPO Iskra management notes that it has already proven the merits of the company’s advanced new product lifecycle management approach.

“In the course of the pilot project, together with Siemens PLM Software, we have learned and implemented a well-integrated solution – Solid Edge and Teamсenter,” says Alla Zayceva, the head of project department at NPO Iskra. “Our team-based concurrent design approach has proven its efficiency and verified the combined expertise of NPO Iskra and Siemens PLM Software.”

Ultimate edge – product quality

NPO Iskra fully leverages the concurrent team-based modeling of Solid Edge and Teamсenter, making the implementation especially advantageous. Siemens’ technology facilitates the concurrent activities of several dozen experts in a single assembly context, as well as a concurrent change management process that has already significantly reduced development errors.

“The results of the work done clearly point to Siemens PLM Software’s technology advantages”, says Burnyshev, summarizing his company’s experience. “Now, we have fewer spatial layout errors; the in-house standard parts and materials libraries ensure accuracy; and our design, development, and requirements management processes are performed concurrently. All this facilitates better product quality. And that means that we have made the right software choice.”

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