Case Study

Dynamic growth through continuous innovation

Jiangsu Zuzem Valves

Solid Edge increases design efficiency by 20 percent; reduces design errors by 90 percent and dramatically cuts ERP data input and retrieval, enabling optimum operations efficiency and more time to innovate

Specialist in valves, nozzles and bearing housings

Founded in 1972, Jiangsu Zuzem Valves Co., Ltd. (Zuzem) specializes in manufacturing three types of products: valves, nozzles and bearing housings. For the past 30 years, the company has made a commitment to building its branded valve product line and reaching new business heights by fluidly adjusting to changing market conditions and by continuously implementing advanced technologies for design and manufacture.

In 1988, the Technology Development Center was established to accelerate the development and design of products using computer-aided design (CAD) technology. At the end of the 1990s, Zuzem accelerated its technologybased development strategy, but retained its 2D approach. However, by 2005, management came to the conclusion that its 2D-based system could no longer effectively meet the increasingly complex requirements for valve design.

Zuzem decided to fully engage its research and development (R&D) operation using product lifecycle management (PLM) technology. Zuzem chose Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge® software and its Insight™ data management solution.

Solid Edge 3D fosters design and customer confidence

According to Zhou Zimin, director of Zuzem’s Technology Development Center, the company used 2D CAD technology to make valve drawings, but the system could not effectively design certain valves with complex curved surfaces. In addition, it was difficult to extract certain information from the drawings that was needed by the production department, such as code, materials and net and gross weights. “Due to our issues with 2D design and in order to further increase our design capability and speed, we decided to introduce 3D software for product development,” notes Zimin. “We chose Solid Edge as our design platform after comparing it with other 3D CAD products, such as SolidWorks and Autodesk Inventor.”

Now Solid Edge, part of Siemens PLM Software’s Velocity Series™ portfolio, is used in the development of all new Zuzem products.

“Since the introduction of Solid Edge, we can design the products with confidence and demonstrate them to customers before the prototypes are manufactured,” says Zimin. “Moreover, we can obtain all of the physical properties in 3D models, including the weight and materials of the valves, and input key manufacturing information into the models. Solid Edge not only has powerful functions that specifically meets our valve design needs, but it’s also very easy to use.”

Insight provides both expected and unexpected improvements

CAD is used extensively in the Chinese manufacturing sector. The technical departments of many enterprises use CAD for design and drawings, as well as word processing and electronic table software for document writing and design calculation. Such use of different software packages during development generates extensive and diverse electronic designs and documents. Therefore, application management tools are needed to manage and utilize these documents in an effective manner.

Zuzem needed such tools to manage design data and supporting documents. In fact, Zuzem considers effective and efficient collaboration between its design teams and affected suppliers indispensable to containing cost and delivery quality.

While the company’s basic design and production process was satisfactory for producing low-tomedium pressure valves of different types and specifications, especially as the majority of parts were interchangeable, the marketplace was demanding faster delivery of more sophisticated products. About the time that annual sales exceeded ¥100 million*, a number of product development problems began to appear.

First, the company’s products were being designed independently. With the design knowledge difficult to re-use, there was significant redundancy in the design process. This increased manufacturing costs. Second, the process used for storing product data posed potential security risks. Third, as the company introduced enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, there were no corresponding interfaces for transferring the product data into the ERP system. Fourth, when workshops or other departments needed to check the drawings, hard copies were required.

Considering the cross-technology compatibility advantages of Solid Edge and the special benefits of its Insight system, the company selected Solid Edge and engaged United Harmony PLM Co., Ltd. (UH PLM), a local partner of Siemens PLM Software, to assist with the implementation.

Xiao Peng, deputy director of the Technology Development Center at Zuzem and in charge of the Insight implementation, explains, “Prior to the implementation of the Insight project, three issues came to our mind: how to sort and classify the products and related process and consumption data, that is, to put the data in a place easily accessible to all; exporting the data and generating related forms to meet the needs of different departments and workshops; and ensuring the security of the data, as various staff members have different levels of authority to check and modify the data.”

Peng notes that Solid Edge demonstrates obvious advantages in supporting collaborative design. “Insight leverages the daily CAD work of designers, so that they employ product data management functionality unknowingly,” he explains. “Unlike many other PDM systems, Insight is not an independent software package. Insight can be used without adding a number of common commands and it does not require a time-consuming implementation process. With Insight, we are able to not only manage the Solid Edge 3D model and product structure, but also control the process data generated by other software. For example, with the pcf file generated by Insight, our designers can send sensitive product models and related information by email to customers without risking a breach of security.”

During the early stage of implementation and in spite of a huge workload, the system was quickly put into operation. UH PLM’s expertise played a key role here. UH PLM also helped Zuzem tailor Insight to the specific needs of the company. For example, the product structure of Solid Edge was set up to be exported and received directly into the ERP system using only one icon.

While implementing Insight, Zuzem technicians soon learned that the system could be used as the company’s intranet. Today, company notices and internal information are published online. Employees communicate with each other through the system’s mailbox and bulletin board system (BBS). “Insight provides us with an unexpected advantage – an excellent internal communication platform,” says Peng.

Synchronous technology speeds business processes

The molds used by Zuzem are supplied by a professional mold manufacturer and the 3D model of these molds needs to be confirmed before they are manufactured. In the past, due to different software used, only .IGS files were received by Zuzem. If the molds did not meet the requirements, the .IGS files could not be changed directly, and the changes were displayed through text descriptions or screenshots before they were sent to the manufacturer. But now, with the synchronous modeling technology, the changes are made in the model directly before the molds are manufactured by the manufacturer.

Numbers reflect substantial gains

By implementing Siemens solutions, Zuzem achieved its primary objective. “We increased design efficiency by 20 percent, reduced design errors by 90 percent and shortened the times to retrieve and input data into the ERP system by 70 percent and 85 percent, respectively,” says Peng.

There is a great story behind the numbers as well.

Now that design is coordinated via the Insight system, collaboration drives innovation. Utilizing Solid Edge with Insight, the company’s standard and common parts libraries are increasing part re-use and reducing design and manufacturing costs. Designers are now easily retrieving related parts and documents, depending on the property of file names or document lists. Advanced version management ensures that older versions are either deleted or restored. Security is tight, with authority set according to users or department members, including the authority to create, browse, examine and approve.

There’s more. A convenient and easy-to-use link management feature enables hyperlinks between the products and documents. Backup and recovery are scheduled and occur automatically. Online surfing allows quick browsing of 3D models and 2D drawings. And with a little customization, the Solid Edge file format for product data is now automatically exported into the ERP system.

Velocity Series represents a strategic investment

“We are quite pleased with Solid Edge with its Insight PDM facility,” says Zimin. “We consider it important that the system can be tailored to the specific needs of our company. Solid Edge with Insight is easy to learn. These Velocity Series products are well-suited for small-to-medium sized manufacturing enterprises, especially from a value perspective. Solid Edge can be implemented within a short period of time, does not require additional investment and designers love the fact that they are productive from the start.”

Zimin adds, “By using UH PLM to further develop the software, our design group’s productivity has been further extended. One of the benefits of this customization has been measurably improved product quality.”

According to Zimin, “Although there are many IT-based systems on the market, none of them seemed to be tailored to or sufficiently customizable to meet our requirements. That’s important, as we believe that the future trend is toward IT applications that not only support an employee’s functional needs, but also integrate enterprise-wide as needed to optimize a company’s business operations. It is our goal to continuously align our information technologies with our business processes. Doing so enhances our overall capabilities, enables us to further our lean management practices and fully demonstrates the unique corporate culture of the Zuzem.”

Zimin says that collaboration is essential to the company’s ongoing future: “The ultimate goal of a ‘dynamically growing’ company is to achieve the best collaboration between the strategic business processes and IT applications. We feel a dynamically growing company is the one that achieves the right process/technology combination and pursues growth through continuous innovation. We feel Solid Edge is a strategic asset in growing our business and is the perfect choice for us.”

* The Renminbi (sign: ¥) is the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. The principal unit is the Yuan.

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