Creating products that make people healthy and happy
Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd.
NX and Teamcenter set the stage for global development of wellness products
Wellness products make life more pleasant
Matsushita ElectricWorks, Ltd. (MEW) consists of six core businesses: Lighting products, Automation Controls, Electronic & Plastic Materials, Building products, Information Equipment & Wiring products, and Home Appliances. The Home Appliances business unit organizes its products into the four categories of beauty, health, fun and comfort.The products include shavers, hair dryers, power tools,massage chairs and blood pressure monitors, to name a few.MEW refers to this product line as “wellness products,” and studies physiological and psychological factors to ensure a steady stream of innovation.
The market for these products is experiencing both a deflationdriven price decline and increased competition.With these factors shrinking the product lifecycle, the unit’s strategy for maintaining market share is to continually offer new products. Another strategy is to expand the market for the unit’s wares by selling them globally.“To meet these objectives, we needed a more efficient development process,” says Tetsuo Kawamoto, who works in the unit’s Development Process Innovation Group.“That included improving our overseas development capabilities as well as the responsiveness of headquarters.”
Digital engineering reduces cycle time
To boost the efficiency of the product development process, the unit implemented a digital engineering approach based on the NX® digital product development solution from Siemens PLM Software.NX has enabled the unit to practice concurrent engineering and to make use of product data throughout the development process. For example, NX data is used downstream to generate virtual and rapid prototypes, as the basis for mold designs, to speed manufacturing preparation through virtual assembly analyses and for faster creation of marketing materials.
One of the benefits of NX in the design process is more complete designs. This is due to the use of computer analysis, digital mockups and virtual prototype verification, all of which improve the accuracy of the final design. Another benefit is 50 percent faster mold fabrication due to the incorporation of mold requirements into design data and about half as many modifications to the molds.“Overall NX has reduced the cycle time for new product development by 30 percent and we expect to eventually reach a 50-percent reduction,” says Kawamoto.
Global engineering to expand the market
MEW’s global design strategy is described by the acronym“WISDOM,” which stands forWorldwide Intelligent Communication System for Development of Matsushita Electric Works. This strategy is based on the Teamcenter® solution for digital lifecycle management from Siemens PLM Software, along with NX.
Prior to implementingWISDOM,members of the product development team attended a five-day training session that covered Teamcenter, basic NX operation and MEW-specific issues. The unit also migrated existing data to Teamcenter (only what was needed for new development) and established modeling methods for NX.
WISDOM is built on two Teamcenter capabilities: product data management and collaboration. Using Teamcenter to manage product data, the unit is now able to take advantage of NXWAVE functionality to use control structures that quickly create top-down variations of product designs. This is another way the company is reducing the design cycle time.
Teamcenter’s collaboration functionality is used to link MEW in Japan with its facilities in China and Thailand.Designers in Japan and abroad now share product data more efficiently, and it has become possible to divide work between designers in Japan and their counterparts abroad for parallel development. In addition, data is now sent between sites two to eight times faster than pre-Teamcenter.Virtual collaborations are now possible as well, with designers at multiple sites simultaneously viewing and manipulating the same digital model on their computer screens.
The NX/Teamcenter solution has allowed MEW to save $2.7 million (¥300 million) per year. This is achieved in large part by re-using design data downstream, such as in the creation of marketing graphics, and by reviewing mold fabrication requirements upfront in the design cycle, which virtually eliminates errors during actual mold production.MEW plans to expand its global, digital engineering process to meet its goal of a 50-percent reduction in development cycle time. The unit also plans to expandWISDOM to more sites and increase the use of knowledge-driven design practices. These goals are firmly supported by the Siemens PLM Software solution.