Market forces drive innovation at Baotou Hydraulic Machinery
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery
Solid Edge and Femap with NX Nastran enable company to improve design productivity by 50 percent, double the number of new products produced annually and win significant new business
Survive or thrive in a changing market
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery Co. Ltd. was founded in 1993 by Wang Manyuan, president of the company. Through development expertise gained over the years, the company is not only able to provide a wide variety of products, including hydraulic oil cylinders, gas cylinders, high efficiency fine oil filtering devices, lubricant filtering devices, piston accumulators, coolers, hydraulic hose assembly, hydraulic accessories and complete hydraulic, lubricating and pneumatic systems, but it is also able to design, manufacture, install and commission the hydraulic system components and complete system equipment according to the special requirements of the customers.
“The development of each and every enterprise is a process of encountering and solving problems,” says Manyuan. Moreover, Baotou Hydraulic Machinery has been faced with increasingly complex business challenges from customers as the general machinery market continues to rapidly evolve. Manyuan explains, “Customers now have access to an expanded variety of products and their requirements for these products are continuously mounting. In particular, as hydraulic equipment is used in the key processes of iron and steel work development, customers’ product specifications and the demand for better quality continue to grow. If customers’ requirements cannot be met, then no matter how favorable the pricing, they are not likely to buy.”
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery had been using a 2D CAD system and as is known in the industry, a great deal of non-standard equipment/parts are needed during the design of hydraulic machinery. Cui Zhongqin, chief engineer at Baotou Hydraulic Machinery, notes, “2D CAD design methods not only lack the capabilities for serious design, but are also unable to verify complex product designs. To ensure the accuracy of the products we develop, the designers generally needed to spend significant time in reviewing the drawings, which not only prolongs the design cycle but also results in a high rate of error in the drawings. This also meant an inability to ensure the quality, thus a high defect rate. Such manually-driven operations made it difficult to thoroughly check the drawings.”
Meanwhile, 3D technology was increasingly being used in the upstream and downstream processes across the industry. Customers wanted to view product models in 3D – an obvious issue in a 2D design environment. Therefore, Baotou Hydraulic Machinery management felt that its 2D CAD approach was becomingly increasingly less effective, even hindering the company’s future development.
What the company wanted in a new 3D design platform
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery identified a broad scope of requirements for a new 3D system. The company wanted a system that would enable it to rapidly complete product designs and deliver the drawings for production; improve the quality of its products; and check errors in the design automatically to ensure drawing accuracy and generate GB-compliant drawings through the 3D models. (FYI: GB stands for Guobiao and represents the Chinese national standards.)
On one hand, with more than 10 years of experience in product development, the company’s focus was on selecting a system that provided best-in-class methods for developing and completing a design while being quick and easy to learn and use – in other words, readily understood by its designers without posing new challenges to the company’s present design projects. On the other hand, the original intention of Baotou Hydraulic Machinery in implementing 3D CAD was to solve sophisticated product design problems.
Moreover, the company wanted a system that allowed designers to truly concentrate on product design and innovation.
Finally, management noted that all of the aforementioned must be accomplished within certain energies and financial resources – what management describes as “a controllable range.”
Solid Edge and Femap with NX Nastran selected
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery thoroughly screened the 3D market for the best technology to match its requirements. The company selected Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge® software as its 3D CAD system and Femap™ with NX™ Nastran® software as its CAE technology.
People familiar with the Siemens PLM Software product line knew that its Velocity Series™ portfolio, of which Solid Edge and Femap with NX Nastran are core parts, provides a comprehensive family of modular, yet integrated solutions addressing the PLM needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.
“The 3D capabilities of Solid Edge for product design and modeling are excellent,” says Zhongqin. “However, what attracted us most to Solid Edge is its ability to re-use 2D drawings for 3D model construction. In addition, Femap with NX Nastran simplifies the product validation process. Reduced prototypes also lead to reduced costs and shorter development times. The design cycle has been reduced by 40 percent.”
Like many enterprises that upgrade their design platforms, a potentially big problem during a new technology implementation process is the inertia of system users. Baotou Hydraulic Machinery anticipated this issue. “Change is risky and poses transition issues,” says Zhongqin. “One can never be too bold in imagining the difficulty of changing design methods and processes. Many enterprises have been dragged down by resistance to change from engineering and technical departments during the process of implementing a new design platform. The choice of the 3D CAD system can make or break the implementation. We found Solid Edge easy to learn and use. Nevertheless, with the implementation of Solid Edge, we issued special guidance documents, which underscored the importance that management placed on this new technology. We assigned ‘benefits’ for using 3D and ‘penalties’ for continuing use of 2D. With such a user friendly system and our motivational strategy, we realized a very successful upgrade of the company’s design platform.”
Realizing a bevy of benefits
With the combined efforts of Baotou Hydraulic Machinery’s employees, the design platform was not only successfully upgraded and put into immediate use, but also with excellent results. “A very sharp tool for design exchange” and “secret competitive weapon” are some of the phrases that Cui Zhongqin, chief engineer at Baotou Hydraulic Machinery, uses when describing the significance of Solid Edge. Zhongqin explains, “With Solid Edge, engineers now easily share data. The product designs can be completed more rapidly. Cost estimates are more accurate, and sales have increased remarkably.”
Femap with NX Nastran is a difference maker, especially for large components, technologically sophisticated components and batch components during the product optimization stage. Benefits include a significantly reduced error rate for designs, greater product quality, the elimination of repairs during manufacture and substantially reduced costs.
Customer rapport has also improved. With the 3D models and FEA report, the customer acquires full confidence in the appearance, functions and quality of each product before manufacture. Zhongqin points out, “With Solid Edge, we are now winning significant new business.”
Baotou Hydraulic Machinery measured its gains. According to the statistical data it compiled regarding its use of 2D versus 3D, productivity is up by 50 percent and the design cycle has been shortened by 40 percent. In addition, design errors have been dramatically reduced and quality is continuously improving. Zhongqin describes the bottom line: “Because of Solid Edge and Femap, the quantity of new products that we complete and deliver each year has literally doubled. Our profitability is very good, and with such success, we continue to innovate.”