PLM solutions help create a more efficient organization
NX and Teamcenter bridge the geographic distance between clients, product designers and manufacturing sites
Most products are exported
From its start as a small manufacturer in 1942, the Norwegian company Ring Mekanikk AS (Ring Mekanikk) has become a leading global supplier of the adjustable torsion bar mechanisms used in high-end office chairs and recliners. The company is also a leading supplier of railway seats, having developed seats for the Oslo-Gardermoen airport express train as well as for trains produced by Siemens. Ring Mekanikk also does some manufacturing for the auto maker Opel, and produces torsion bar solutions used in other products besides seats.
“We started producing furniture in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and eventually we began developing our own mechanisms for chairs,” says Ring Mekanikk marketing director, Arne Sveen. “The result was that we became the world’s largest producer of torsion bars, and delivered our systems all over the world.”
Nearly all of Ring Mekanikks’ products are sold outside Norway. As a result, travel expenses for both the company and its clients were high. “Our largest client is an office chair manufacturer outside Jönköping, Sweden,” the company’s development manager, John-Erling Nygård, explains. “There is no way to cover this distance in less than eight hours, and then you use two days just traveling to a meeting. Today’s realities don’t allow such extravagance.” In addition, after the company moved a major part of its assembly work to Latvia in 2003, it needed a more effective communication process.
3D CAD and PLM provide a more advanced development platform
Torsion bar assemblies are still the “heart” of Ring Mekanikk, representing 80 percent of the total turnover. The competition in this market has been getting stronger in recent years, forcing Ring Mekanikk to make some major changes to maintain its leadership position.
As Nygård explains: “Our old system was mainly based on 2D drawings and very time-consuming back-and-forth communication with clients. As recently as five years ago, our representatives communicated with clients using paper drawings and, even worse, sketches made on restaurant napkins. This created problems such as misunderstandings and expensive travel.”
After deciding to do something about these problems, Ring Mekanikk implemented NX™ software and Teamcenter® software from Siemens PLM Software. This allowed the company to upgrade to a 3D design process using NX, while Teamcenter brought product lifecycle management (PLM) functionality for managing product data and streamlining communication during the product development cycle. The openness of the Siemens PLM Software solutions gives Ring Mekanikk compatibility with its clients’ product development systems. “We can convert 3D files from almost all formats,” Nygård says.
The company’s existing 2D drawings are being converted to 3D NX files, and as this happens, they are added to the Teamcenter database. As Nygård explains, “When old 2D drawings are updated, they are replaced with new 3D ones, and put into the Teamcenter system. This was a gradual transition, and is still on-going.”
Better client relationships
One of the major benefits of the new approach created using Siemens PLM Software’s solutions is that minor changes to a design can be executed very quickly. Automotive parts are subject to minor and major alterations almost yearly, and these changes can now be executed in a matter of hours.
Another benefit is that designers can get continuous feedback from the clients as they develop new products. “Now practically all our client communication is in the form of 3D data,” Nygård says. “Changes are now discussed during online video conferences using one or two screens, reducing misunderstandings to almost none. Travel has been reduced by at least 40 percent, for both Ring Mekanikk and our clients as well. And then, of course, there is the essential element of time.”
“This process has done much for our client communication,” Nygård adds. “First, it is simpler for us to present new products and solutions. Second, the client is almost always in direct communication with us, saving time. Third, almost no misunderstandings occur. And fourth, our clients and our organization are spared unnecessary travel costs. Siemens PLM Software solutions have unquestionably been a vital element in our transition to a more efficient organization.”