SDI excels in office products and electronic components
NX helps manufacturer successfully develop two major product lines and improve competitive position in challenging global market
Professionalism, competitiveness, new orders
It’s Friday, early summer. A group of businessmen arrive at Taoyuan International Airport, get in a car that has been waiting for them, and go directly to the Stationery Design Company (SDI), located in Changhua City.
An SDI project team is well-prepared to receive its guests for a “counseling and creative brainstorming conference.” The meeting begins. In short order the client has proposed initial requirements and SDI’s designers have responded with a virtual product. There is collaboration regarding the design until a final consensus is reached. After what seems a very brief weekend, the client returns to SDI, where the proposed design is presented in prototype form. The client takes the prototype home, discusses it with colleagues, confirms and approves the design, and places a purchase order. The products are made, delivered and launched – all on schedule.
Completing an Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) project in a matter of days represents a typical business process for the SDI research and development team. It also illustrates the team’s professionalism and competitiveness. The key to this successful process – quick and effective design concepting, client review and approval, and efficient large-scale production – is a digital product development system that integrates CAD and CAM.
Office products line paves the way for electronic components products
A successful manufacturer for more than 50 years, SDI got its start by producing stationery products (also commonly referred to as office products) under the Hand Brand. Its super penknife, a popular product among people who were born in the 1960s and 70s, remains a strong seller today.
While SDI primarily handles Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and ODM projects, the company is gradually shifting its focus to producing and marketing its own brands. Today, SDI brands represent approximately 40 percent of the company’s business, but management plans to increase that to about 60 percent within three to five years.
SDI’s office products have created a solid foundation for growth, with the company’s advanced transfer die technology (developed and enhanced throughout the years) now serving as the core competency for its electronics components production. Traded on the Taiwan stock exchange as an electronics company, SDI is recognized as one of the country’s largest manufacturers of semiconductor lead frames, machining equipment and testing equipment. It is the leading manufacturer of power lead frame devices in the world, with the product line addressing varied industrial applications, including automobiles, refrigerators and appliances.
In 1989, well ahead of its competition, SDI introduced Siemens PLM Software’s NX™ digital product development solution, then called Unigraphics. A comprehensive CAD/CAM process automation tool, NX is leveraged across design, simulation and production. The company has built an impressive process and product knowledge repository with NX. In large part, management attributes SDI’s best-in-class products and continuously improving competitive advantage to NX. “Looking back to when we first introduced the Siemens technology, we have to say that it was a very wise decision,” says Chen Chao-Hung, assistant vice president of SDI’s R&D center. “NX has enabled us to optimize our business process ‘from design to production.’ We have established a very smooth CAD/CAM mechanism within the company.”
Chen points out, “We have used NX a long time and we have found that it is superior to the other solutions in integrating CAD and CAM. Our designers are able to focus on creative solutions without worrying that there will be problems in the manufacturing to production cycle.”
Consistent digital product definition facilitates design through production
“Highly integrated CAD and CAM capabilities enable our users to access graphic files from the same database along the entire process, from design to manufacturing and on through mass production,” says Chen. “We are confident regarding the completeness and coherence of the graphic files. In addition, with users no longer needing to change file formats for different software systems, we save time to further accelerate design innovation.”
NX has greatly reduced the time needed between mold design and tooling.What used to take one week now takes just to two to three days. That’s significant, especially considering that a single product has as many as 500 to 600 parts. The time savings from mold design to manufacturing is even greater. What used to take 40 to 50 days has been cut in half. With NX, the process now requires just 20 to 25 days.
SDI also uses NX to design and deliver specialized production equipment and product testing machinery. As it is not only inconvenient but also time-consuming and expensive to make detailed modifications and adjustments to purchased machinery, SDI utilizes its skill sets to design its own production equipment. Much of its machinery is now tailor-made to its production needs, improving both efficiency and quality control.
Chen notes that substantial time savings (from improved CAD/CAM processes) and enhanced overall operations (from internally designed equipment) have given the company a much stronger marketing and production edge in its highly competitive market space.
Rapid innovation, new brands
SDI’s improved operations efficiency and equipment performance across its electronics components lines has also laid a solid foundation for developing new brands of office products.
The company’s major office products include correction tape, staplers, cutter knifes and pencil sharpeners, with its correction tape accounting for one third of the market share in Taiwan. However, R&D remains critical to success; therefore, SDI continuously explores innovation across its office products portfolio. This includes introducing not only improved usage and appearance features for new and recent offerings, but also for mature products like its stapler.
SDI’s R&D Center is required to design three to five unique products for mass production every year. The ratio of “ideas to products produced” is about 50 to 1. Chen notes, “NX is so deeply rooted in the automated process from design to production that our designers need not worry about the transfer die. They can focus energy on turning ideas into valuable products.” Among practices that keep SDI’s creative team in touch with the latest market trends, designers visit international office products shows in Frankfurt, Shanghai and Brazil annually.
Better processes and greater efficiency through customization
While SDI appreciates NX’s advanced CAD/CAM functionality, it also cites the software’s ability to be customized according to the company’s development needs. SDI has programmed and continues to program various operations to improve efficiency and accuracy. Hsiao Ken-Wang, an engineer in charge of developing CAD add-on programs at the company’s R&D Center, says, “NX allows users to design their own useful programs. For example, users can easily program the software so that one command links up a series of actions. It simplifies the process and saves time from CAD to CAM.” Hsiao notes, “As a result, human errors are minimized, if not wholly prevented. Together with SDI’s certified calibration laboratory, NX helps enhance the precise design and delivery of our products.”
With 41 seats, NX serves as the company’s standard CAD/CAM product development tool. Wisdom Engineering Services Corp., Siemens PLM Software’s channel partner, provides SDI with standard training for new employees to accelerate familiarization with NX. Wisdom’s training results in high user productivity in a short period of time.
Chen concludes, “In the beginning, NX was used for strictly CAD purposes. However, as we’ve grown, we’ve expanded our use of the software from product design all the way through the manufacturing process. NX has provided SDI with all the functionality we have needed through every phase of our operations. But it’s more than just the right software for our company. The people at Siemens and Wisdom Engineering Services have always responded promptly whenever we have a question or encounter a problem or challenge. I believe this strong technology partnership will last a long time.”