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Efficiencies made possible using NX and Teamcenter Express enable a new corporate direction
Heir to Suzuki-Santana (formerly Santana Motor), SAMS is an automotive machining company that produces a comprehensive portfolio of parts and systems for global automotive, agricultural machinery and heavy equipment manufacturers. The company operates 3 production plants in Spain and Mexico and employs more than 250 people.
With more than 30 years of experience in automotive-related industries, SAMS is a key partner to many of the leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). A SAMS team of more 15 engineers and designers collaborates with these companies throughout the design process. In spite of its success in this arena, however, SAMS management is planning for the future and the possibility of entering new markets.
“The current business and economic conditions, with global markets in which it is often difficult to compete with emerging economies, demand that any first-rate company consider new business challenges, new markets, new customer relationships and more specialized products,” says Juan José Caballero, I+D+i manager at SAMS. With this in mind, several years ago SAMS management began the process of modernizing its facilities and production processes. This effort took a new turn when the company decided to become involved in the design and production of high-performance solar energy systems.
SAMS relies on Avantek, its technology partner, to provide its design and engineering teams with knowledge management, task automation and advanced design tools. In addition, Avantek provides SAMS teams with any training that is needed.
Once new tools are implemented and the team is trained, SAMS’ main objective is to minimize the time it takes to go from the concept design of a new product to its market launch. This is achieved by reducing the number of physical prototypes, by removing unnecessary iterations and by reducing the impact of design changes on production. The use of NX™ software from Siemens PLM Software plays a key role in these efforts.
“The functionality of NX allows us, through a design process based on parametric models, to reduce the time needed by the engineering and design departments,” says Caballero. “This in turn enables us to meet customers’ commissions and adapt to the constantly changing market. With NX, we have an advanced level of control over the manufacturing process and can make product modifications in a record time.”
The addition of Teamcenter Express software, also from Siemens PLM Software, has brought other advantages, such as real-time access to information, starting with concept design and continuing throughout the product development process. At SAMS, Teamcenter Express functions as a globally integrated system used by the engineering, design, quality and tooling departments. It allows the company to eliminate errors caused by outdated documentation and enforce access rights management, and has led to a reduction in the time needed to manage research and development (R&D) processes of approximately 30 percent.
With this foundation in place, SAMS began taking on projects in the renewable energy arena. One project involved designing the mounting system for the next-generation Argus solar tracker. A solar tracker is a device that orients a solar array toward the sun, turning the panels so they face the sun as the earth rotates.
“The new Argus tracker represented a revolution in both the thinking of designers and the very concept of the production process,” says Caballero. “When coming from a long experience in other sectors, the design of a new product such as this raises difficulties and requires change. However, the ability to share and manage information using Teamcenter Express, along with the advanced design functionality of NX, allowed us to bring this product into production quickly and with a minimum number of prototypes.”
The concept design, which was done in 3D using NX, was quickly transformed into fully designed parts and assemblies. As the design was being done, SAMS engineers worked in parallel to fully optimize the machining and assembly processes, with the goal of reducing production cost. Fast access to current design data eliminated cumbersome missteps and modifications caused by errors in design or documentation.
When the design and engineering stages were finished, rigorous testing began. The assurance that correct and up-to-date information is sent to the various providers is crucial at this stage, as it is during the development of the tools that are to be used to machine the mounting system components. “These are critical elements with long delivery times, and a delay in this phase of the project tends to have a major impact on the delivery deadline,” explains Caballero. “The collaborative engineering made possible using Teamcenter Express reduced the time spent in these stages.” Teamcenter Express is used to manage models from different computer-aided design (CAD) systems as well as other files and documents from a variety of sources.
Today, SAMS engineers estimate the time needed to design and manufacture preproduction units of complex mechanical solar power equipment to be less than 8 months. This fast response is enabling SAMS to carve a niche in the renewable energy sector, a diversification that helps guarantee the company’s future success.
Keys To Success:
Client's Primary Business:
SAMS produces parts and systems for automotive, agricultural machinery and heavy machinery manufacturers as well as complex mechanical equipment for solar energy applications.
Manzanares, Ciudad Real
"With NX, we have an advanced level of control over the manufacturing process and can make product modifications in record time."
Juan Jose Caballero
"The levels of traceability and quality required for this type of production make a good PLM system such as Teamcenter Express essential."
Juan Jose Caballero
"Our PDM technology, Teamcenter Express, is coordinated to perfection with our 3D CAD system, NX."
Juan Jose Caballero
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