Case Study

Designing urban lighting for citizens’ comfort and safety

AEC Illuminazione

The use of NX and Teamcenter supports advanced research and innovation for producing the highest quality lighting solutions


Since 1957, AEC Illuminazione has been implementing solutions for public lighting, combining technology and design to achieve innovative solutions that offer maximum comfort and total safety to citizens. AEC’s lighting solutions are recognized for their integration with the urban environment in a uniquely harmonious and highly functional manner. Delivering rapid design, production and distribution, the company has become a leader in Italy in its sector and today plays an important role across Europe, the Middle and Far East, Australia and New Zealand. With such a broad geographic reach, it’s important to note that the company’s products must meet the specific environmental compliance standards of each regional installation.

Achieving company goals means tight control of various factors across development, including intense product research and an emphasis on advanced technologies and electronic solutions that power its equipment. Specifically, AEC tests, approves and certifies each product in company laboratories via rigorous technical assessments, before applying to official certifications. AEC does not simply validate and verify its products, but it develops them in harmony with the requirements to fulfill a consistent and pervasive development strategy that supports its main principles – such as energy savings and safety for citizens – right into design criteria.

At AEC, product development is driven by the selection of optical instruments and the search for optimal materials and production processes. Product duration, versatility and customer support concur in honoring the commitment to the highest standards of quality.

To maintain a leadership position in the context of a rapidly evolving and highly competitive market, AEC identified opportunities to improve operations in the areas of the computer-aided design (CAD) and collaborative product development management (cPDM) platforms. The company sought a unique tool, one which would favor the development of a lighting system – across multiple integrated components – and one that would enable a significant reduction of samples and prototypes. The solution would manage the various stages of lighting system development, including the handling of optical design and mechanics (with the study and modeling of complex surfaces), checks (including modeling and finite element analysis), fast and on-time changes and electric/electronic design.

To fulfill these requirements, AEC chose Siemens PLM Software’s NX™ software, an integrated product design, engineering and manufacturing solution. AEC noted the strength of NX in addressing comprehensive design across all core components of its lighting equipment: the optical unit, the structure and the cabling.

In addition, with the production of an increasing volume of data connected to each specific component, as well as the need to exploit previous designs, trace the checks performed in various stages and manage constant updates and changes, AEC required an efficient and reliable product data management (PDM) system. The company chose Teamcenter® software, a digital lifecycle management solution preconfigured for rapid development and fast return on investment, also from Siemens PLM Software. AEC cited the capability of Teamcenter to make accurate, up-to-date product and process information immediately and easily accessible for all of the company’s operators, specialists and other persons with a need to know.

A special AEC team was formed to screen various CAD and cPDM offerings. Through a series of practical demonstrations, the team found that the tight and seamless integration between NX and Teamcenter was especially advantageous, noting the solution served as a comprehensive answer to its product development requirements. “A series of key factors contributed to selecting the Siemens solution,” notes Ing Lucchetti, project manager, AEC. “NX and Teamcenter, especially a number of their advanced attributes, seemed to us to be the most suitable for our current and future needs. We considered the technology in terms of both the company’s current requirements and projected needs.”

Lucchetti notes that the Siemens offering of specific tools in an integrated environment is another critical element. In many ways, the Siemens approach reflects AEC’s own pioneering and expansive outlook of product development processes. Lucchetti says, “The possibility of having all operations integrated and to turn to one unique supplier, or better, to a real partner – one that would give us well-defined assurances and be able to accompany us in advancing more complex projects as well as in future developments – is crucial.”

Benefits of the implementation have already been noted and are expected to become even more significant as new projects are brought on board. Benefits include increased productivity and faster production start time. AEC’s designers are achieving substantially improved information sharing, magnified by the fact that their updates are made in real time. Management of information to comply with regional and industry standards and requirements is now being automated. Other advantages are expected as a result of more efficient filing and retrieval of documents and models by the company’s technical office. The outcome will be better management and greater control of the company’s internal procedures and regulations.

The most significant advantage of the new technology rollout is the acceleration of the production start time, made possible by the structuring of the bill of materials (BOM) inside the CAD system. Lucchetti notes, “We are quite happy with the support of Siemens PLM Software, which performed a real and complete analysis of the company processes, as well as organizing and conducting the training of our personnel. Siemens’ consultants worked side-by-side with us in the performance of a pilot project in which we explored and supported the various stages of lighting system design. It was a positive transition. We found great enthusiasm throughout the technical office. In only a matter of a few days after the implementation of the Siemens solution, our people realized how much simpler and faster data access had become, improving our ability to research and create better products.”

AEC management, which embraces innovation and sets evermore challenging goals, witnessed a confident attitude in the whole staff in dealing with the technology implementation – an attitude it considers fundamental for the positive outcome of any project, especially when it encompasses a change of its technical infrastructure and internal processes.

With AEC’s focus on research and providing the best solutions to advance its lighting technologies, the company has no intention of being satisfied with its current status, and plans to assess future possibilities using Siemens technologies.

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