NX fuels auto supplier’s bid to become billion-dollar company
Air International relies on Siemens product lifecycle management solutions to win “the big contracts” – large programs with major automakers worldwide
The automotive supplier’s challenge
Air International needed to boost design efficiency, leverage existing capital and enhance enterprise collaboration to meet ambitious sales goals. Air International’s customers include many of the world’s leading automakers, including Ford, which standardized on I-deas™ software, and General Motors, a long-time user of Unigraphics software. As a supplier to both companies, Air International was forced to maintain both systems. Although Air International incurred the extra costs associated with multiple programs, the company found other issues to be equally detrimental. For example, it was difficult to move design personnel from project to project since most were trained in only one system. Also, it was cumbersome to transfer parts between systems so design re-use was minimal. These problems cost time and money, and jeopardized Air International’s plan to become a billion-dollar company by 2004.
Air International implemented a three-part upgrade of its product development process, employing Siemens product lifecycle management technology. First, it installed Unigraphics NX (now called NX) as its standard CAD/CAM/CAE platform. The NX™ product development software eliminated the dual-system inefficiencies of the past, permitting data re-use between Ford and GM projects and enabling more effective personnel assignments. The second step, aimed at better leveraging of knowledge and information from past projects, was accomplished by installing Teamcenter® software. Teamcenter gives engineers, as well as those outside of engineering, immediate access to product data. Third, the company adopted Teamcenter community collaboration technology to improve knowledge sharing among product team members around the world.
Success on all counts
NX process-specific tools – prepackaged applications containing industry knowledge and best practices – streamlined workflows for greater productivity within the design department. In addition, having best practices captured within the design process improved product quality. “What NX really means is that we spend less time worrying about technology and more time delivering better products to our customers,” says Anthony Carpenter, CAD Manager, Air International Limited.
With Teamcenter, Air International has seen design re-use increase significantly along with a corresponding drop in new product development costs. Use of Teamcenter outside of engineering is enabling faster quotes. “Sales staff can rapidly put together bids because they can access knowledge and data from past projects and reapply it,” says Carpenter. “PLM is the glue that holds all the pieces together.” Using a Teamcenter web account, engineers at Port Melbourne collaborate with their colleagues in Detroit in real time. Air International intends to expand around-the-world collaboration to “create what we need overnight.” The use of Siemens software helped Air International win a huge contract with GM North America. Carpenter explains, “Siemens software gave us the ability to leverage knowledge from past projects and quickly capture data from diverse sources.”
With increased design efficiency, greater re-use of intellectual capital and significantly improved collaboration across the enterprise, Air International is staying on course to hit its billion-dollar target.