Case Study

Design-to-order process ensures market leadership in optical instruments

Ural Optical & Mechanical Plant

Fully automated product development improves quality while speeding time to market

CAD sets stage for market leadership

Ural Optical & Mechanical Plant (UOMZ) is one of the largest enterprises within the Russian military industrial complex. It was established in 1850. Presently UOMZ is a modern high-tech company, a leader in optical instruments. High-precision medical and geodesic equipment, mechanical optics for spacecraft, and airborne systems for military and commercial aircraft make up just a fraction of the company’s activities. The enterprise features 120 design teams with more than 900 employees. Its structure includes the Central Design Office as well as a large network of sales and service and design offices in Russian regions as well as in Switzerland, China, and Belarus.

Since the late 1990s, UOMZ has been committed to implementing the most advanced computer technology. “From the very beginning we set high standards for design quality as a way of expanding our market share. This required efficient design tools,” notes Sergei Mikheev, IT and Communications Center (ITCC) director at UOMZ.

In 1998 the company’s experts evaluated available CAD systems, using the price-performance ratio as the selection criterion. Solutions from UGS (now Siemens PLM Software) demonstrated significant benefits for complex instrument design. “We chose the NX™ digital product development system and the Solid Edge® mid-range CAD system because of their excellent functionality for the design of complex products,” says Mikheev. “These solutions exceed other systems in matching the needs and the thinking of the designer.”

“Traditionally the enterprise was more oriented toward serial production, and the share of our own projects was low,” Mikheev adds. “The implementation of NX and Solid Edge has allowed us to improve quality and cut costs as well as to establish a reliable and flexible design-to-order system and to handle more and more such orders.”

Manufacturing knowledge base

Russian systems integrator company, LANIT, a Siemens PLM Software partner, facilitated the implementation of NX and Solid Edge at UOMZ, creating a two-tiered design structure within the company. NX is used for complex tooling design, military and medical equipment design, mold design and NC programming for primary production. Solid Edge is used for geodesic equipment design and military engineering. In addition to NX and Solid Edge, there are several workstations of P-CAD for electronic schematics design and two workstations running the ZEMAX optical system design package.

The learning process included mastering both the interface and the top-down design approach. Following the implementation, the chief military designers were relieved of making paper drawings. As computer-aided design gained a significant share in the enterprise’s activities, engineering data management became an urgent issue, leading the company to implement the Teamcenter® digital lifecycle management solution, also from Siemens, for its product data management (PDM) needs.

The successful PDM deployment at UOMZ has optimized data creation, storage and management. It has also formalized business processes, as well as provided integration to ERP and data transfer from the legacy mainframe system. “Siemens PLM Software systems have always been ahead of the competition in terms of completeness and an in-depth approach to the design process,” says Mikheev. “For instance, data integrity is maintained at every lifecycle stage, which eliminates the possibility of data errors.”

The engineering data management capabilities in Teamcenter greatly enhance efficiency. Today the company’s branches situated in different cities are connected by dedicated communication lines. Their workstations are equipped with NX and Solid Edge, and management is performed through Teamcenter. This configuration facilitates efficient collaboration across the extended enterprise. In addition, solutions from Siemens PLM Software support engineering data capture into a knowledge base, reduce data search time, and provide for design standardization and best practices utilization. “Today a market leader is the one that manages information to make the best decisions quickly. In our experience, the best support for fast decision making comes from Siemens PLM Software solutions,” says Mikheev.

Design efficiency increased by 50+ percent

Today UOMZ has a completely automated product development process: from conceptual design to manufacturing. Products are designed at design offices concurrently in many Russian cities including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

Production planning is performed within the Teamcenter environment. Internal document flow is 90 percent paperless. (It is impossible to push it further without legislation concerning digital signature and digital representation of accounting documents.)

Annually the number of orders for R&D grows by 30 percent while design efficiency has increased by more than 50 percent. Company management believes that the best return on the investment from the NX/Solid Edge/Teamcenter implementation is a faster time to market for complex products.

The company’s experts praise the implementation of the Siemens products. Strong market competition provides new opportunities and new challenges, which can now be handled at once. “Our production is being modernized to meet the market’s requirements,” says Mikheev. “We are happy that our vision for the future is always supported by the Siemens software developers. We have been working with them so closely for such a long time that UOMZ and Siemens have become not just good partners. We are members of a common production chain.”

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