Siemens PLM Software solutions revolutionize Russian aircraft engine design and production
JSC Aviadvigatel uses NX and Teamcenter to develop new engines and retrofit old ones
Leveraging technology for growth
JSC Aviadvigatel is a leading Russian design company. For 70 years, the company has been developing civilian and military aircraft engines, industrial gas turbines and power plants. Today Aviadvigatel’s engines include the Tupolev 204, Tupolev 214, Ilyushin 96-300, Ilyushin 76MF modern aircraft and the Air Force No. 1 Ilyushin 96-300PU.
The engines are batch produced by JSC Perm Engine Company, a Russian and CIS leader in aircraft and industrial engines production. Both companies are affiliated with the United Aircraft Engine Corporation.
Making the right choice
Siemens PLM Software’s solutions have been used at Aviadvigatel since 1994. These systems were among the first large-scale deployments of Siemens PLM Software’s products in Russia. “We clearly realized that we needed a CAD system,” recalls Sergei Bormalev, CIO, JSC Aviadvigatel. “We understood that it was necessary both for production planning and engineering analysis support.”
In the mid-80s, Aviadvigatel engineers tried 3D modeling for the first time using the early versions of domestic and imported CAD systems. Before working with Siemens PLM Software’s Russian office, Aviadvigatel had used CATIA® software and Pro/Engineer® software. However the functionality of these solutions was not satisfactory for the design department. In 1994, Unigraphics Solutions, Inc.’s newly opened Russian office provided Unigraphics® software to Aviadvigatel. Eventually, Unigraphics Solutions became Siemens PLM Software and the Unigraphics system became NX™ software, a digital product development suite.
“We immediately noticed several NX advantages,” notes Bormalev. “First, the functionality: we required concurrent determined parameterization and modeling in any context. NX was able to do it in contrast to other systems. Second was the excellent price-quality ratio. Third, our U.S. strategic partner at that time also used NX (Unigraphics then). However, the greatest benefit is Siemens PLM Software’s reputation as a leading PLM supplier to the aerospace industry. Having evaluated all this, we opted for NX.”
NX – the first steps
The NX training was initially organized onsite. “Siemens PLM Software’s top experts worked with us and they provided highly efficient support,” Bormalev says. Then, in 1995 a group of engineers went to Cologne for training. Among them were Aviadvigatel’s designers, as well as several engineers from its manufacturing operation, JSC Perm Engine Company.
“It was teaching teachers,” says Bormalev. “It was an advanced course and we studied the system comprehensively. Later, these engineers transferred their skills to others.”
The first project that the company implemented with NX was designing the engine’s most complicated part – a cooled turbine blade, as well as its tooling. The molds, the external and internal surfaces and the ceramic inserts were all modeled in NX.
“It was a tremendous timesaver,” says Bormalev. “Conventional production planning for this kind of part would take about nine months. With the new technology we made it in four months. It was our first major accomplishment.”
Later when JSC Perm Engine considered implementing new CAD technology, this example played a key role is convincing their organization to choose NX.
Switching to the new NX technology has changed many of Aviadvigatel’s workflows. The advantages of concurrent product development were obvious but at that time expensive workstations were still required. That is why several concurrent development teams were created, as well as a computer lab for the product and its tooling designers and NC experts.
“All these experts looked at the screen together, reviewed the results, evaluated manufacturability, made changes, solved ongoing issues and just communicated,” Bormalev explains. “The atmosphere was business-like but still rather informal; everybody worked for the goal. These sessions helped define how to select parts for NX modeling. Specifically, NX was used if a 3D analysis was needed, as well as when a CAD model was required by production. Today, product development is almost entirely performed with NX.”
From turbine blade to a new engine
As early as 1997 JSC Aviadvigatel was using all of the CAD capabilities of NX, from production planning and tooling design to NC programming and engineering analysis. The company also has gone from designing just cooled turbine blades to non-cooled, compressor, fan blades, combustion chambers and other components.
“Today we make new engines and retrofit the old ones using NX,” Bormalev says. “For convenience, we issue tutorials on part design. Every new NX version contributes something into our workflows.”
JSC Perm Engine implemented Siemens PLM Software’s solutions somewhat later in 2003. “It was very important that we didn’t start from scratch and have to reinvent the wheel,” says Bormalev. “By that time, we had gained a lot of experience and were able to help Perm Engine Company through technology transfer and training.”
Both JSC Aviadvigatel and JSC Perm Engine now use NX to solve much more complicated tasks than ten years ago. Today, a new PD-14 engine for the MS-21 aircraft is being designed. The workflow is fundamentally different: it is based on a completely defined digital mockup.
“It is not exactly like the digital mockups we used earlier, not just the external surfaces of the cases with other components and piping inside,” Bormalev explains. “A completely defined digital model enables us to design in the context of the entire product.”
In addition, the new Product and Information module of NX facilitates direct 3D model dimensioning in the same way dimensions are specified on drawings. “Thanks to this functionality, we can get rid of paper drawings since all the information is in the 3D model,” Bormalev says. “It saves a lot of time and effort. We actively promote this functionality and have started several pilot projects.”
NX implementation has given JSC Aviadvigatel and JSC Perm Engine many advantages. First, production planning time has been significantly reduced. Second, 3D modeling supports fluid dynamics and heat and strength analysis. In Bormalev’s opinion, the most important advantage is considerable quality improvement for both design and manufacturing.
Teamcenter – a new development paradigm
The next step was implementing Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter® platform, a digital lifecycle solution. “By 1998, we were literally flooded with digital models, associated drawings and tooling,” Bormalev recalls. “It was easy to get lost in this abundance of information. Often we made tooling using outdated models or by simply changing the old versions. The only way out was implementing a product data management solution.”
The use of Teamcenter as a PLM solution was commissioned in 2006. Today, the system is used by almost all designers and a majority of manufacturing engineers at JSC Aviadvigatel. Data exchange between JSC Aviadvigatel and its manufacturer is only performed through Teamcenter – and the manufacturer is also successfully implementing the system.
“It is not just switching to a new technology. It really was a business re-organization and enhancement to a new level,” Bormalev believes. “Teamcenter is a milestone for our company; it means new thinking and new workflows. Certainly it is not easy to change what has been established for decades, but we had strong management support for this. The PLM system facilitates teamwork and goal-oriented work. For example, Teamcenter does not allow us to issue a production order unless the model or the drawing is approved. Otherwise our data will be incomplete.”
Today, Teamcenter supports both data management and the document approval workflow. It is one of the biggest achievements of PLM deployment at JSC Aviadvigatel and JSC Perm Engine. Since Teamcenter was implemented, the company has developed databases and libraries for standard, OEM components. As a result, a part is simply selected from an index with its dimensions specified. According to Bormalev this practice obviously boosts production planning.
“As for Teamcenter, we have already reached a no-return point and will keep going,” says Bormalev.
People – the most valuable asset
Bormalev notes that 3D modeling facilitates creativity. That is why the young engineers at JSC Aviadvigatel and JSC Perm Engine advance fast. For several years, the companies have been cooperating with Perm State Technical University, where Siemens PLM Software solutions are used in the academic process.
“As the university’s graduates start working in design or manufacturing, they already have basic knowledge of CAD and PLM,” says Professor Alexander Inozemtsev, JSC Aviadvigatel’s chief designer and the head of the Aircraft Engines Department at the university.
“Personnel working with the new technologies are real enthusiasts,” according to Bormalev. “It is indeed very exciting: all the advanced technologies work together over the product lifecycle. Engineers who have mastered the new approach feel the demand for their skills and are motivated for further development.”
Today, several hundred engineers at JSC Aviadvigatel and JSC Perm Engine use Siemens PLM Software solutions. The NX and Teamcenter deployments have become a determining factor for reaching the company’s strategic goal of delivering better quality at lower cost. The new technologies considerably reduce production planning time, optimize workflows and create a unified, company-wide information environment. All this has a positive effect on the quality of modern aircraft engines.