Case Study

NX ensures innovation


Design and modeling are complementary processes at KeyOx, where NX provides a complete solution that optimizes creativity – from the definition of specifications to the documentation needed for documentation needed for manufacturing

Design-engineering partnership

Before founding KeyOx, Mathias Allély, an industrial designer who graduated from the ENSAAMA (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Arts) and Paul Laurens, an INSA engineer (Mechanical Engineering Construction) with an advanced diploma in materials engineering, had worked together in product development since 1998. They made the following observation from their first collaboration as customer and supplier: “Too many innovation projects do not attain the goals assigned to them in terms of sales, profits, market share, or brand recognition.” Their analysis was that the problems encountered during product development are usually related to a lack of shared vision between the specialists at the beginning of the innovation process.

The two entrepreneurs formulated a new product design approach and started their company, KeyOx, with the goal of providing their customers with a method aimed at offering different and highperformance products more rapidly. “An innovative product determines the rules of the game for the competition,” says Mathias Allély, KeyOx partner.

Their method, a balance between technological pragmatism, maintaining values, and a culture of well-being, is based on a preliminary study done with their customers’ teams about uses, sales objectives, and technology to be implemented. The end product of this study (led by the industrial designer, who is an expert in form and use, and the engineer who ensures the manufacturability) is a shared and dynamic vision of what the future product will be. This shared vision is divided into objectives and actions, and the integrity of the whole is ensured during the entire project by reviewing and updating the intent illustrated by the designer. According to the partners, “During the continuous process, which is what innovation is, our company’s mission is to provide our customers with strategic, creative, and development expertise which is indispensable to the project’s planning and success.”

Selecting a suitable tool

Being design and modeling experts, the two partners know the computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) market very well. They therefore decided to make the rounds of the main solution providers, testing at the same time. Their basic specification was a complete design and manufacturing solution, sufficiently robust and industrial to adapt to all their needs and all phases of the process, from the designer’s creative spark to defining the product’s details.

“We were really looking for a ‘magic’ toolkit that would allow us not only to implement our own methods, but also to adapt to all our customers’ requirements, and to all phases of product development,” explains Allély, the team’s industrial designer. “We needed to be present from start to finish, in a project manager role if necessary, providing the customer with all our know-how while transparently and rapidly integrating into his teams. We were also looking for a tool capable of simultaneously managing simple and complex forms as well as all the various manufacturing techniques, which themselves can be complicated.” Their search led to the selection of NX™ software from Siemens PLM Software.

The NX solution proved its value during the first project awarded to KeyOx by Raisonance, a company in Grenoble, France that specializes in software tools for onboard systems. Using the NX solution enabled the team to build on its knowledge and create in 15 days: the 3D model of the Rlink microcontroller debugger and programmer, the synthesis image validated by Raisonance, the model for the toolmaker, and the documentation for the mass production manufacturing lines.

To benefit even more from the competitive edge of reducing time to market, KeyOx wanted to provide its customers with advanced digital prototyping tools. Using NX Nastran® software, KeyOx can validate and communicate the performance of its designs using digital simulation (finite element analysis). KeyOx’s customers are therefore sure of the yield on their investments.

Product development, R&D support, design services

Today KeyOx works with companies in a variety of ways. For example, KeyOx works with companies that do not have an engineering and design department (Raisonance, STMicroelectronics, Eliot) to study their expectations, propose a design that takes their use cases and brand image into consideration, realize the development and follow it down the line, and verify the tooling. With other companies, such as Waterslim, KeyOx leads the development of their products based on market goals, from R&D phases to industrialization including the identification of product differentiators and technology.

KeyOx can also provide services on demand, such as product design or technology consulting, for customers who have mechanical engineering resources, such as Coval and Parker Pneumatic. “Finally, we assist companies like Salomon or Baccarat in introducing NX into their product development process while adapting it to the techniques of their sector,” Allély adds.

One tool from industrial design to industrialization

The NX CAD solution is an integral part of KeyOx’s operations. NX, a powerful and integrated continuous digital chain, covers and documents all aspects of industrial development, from exploring concepts to their validation (analysis of surface and form quality, and digital simulation using NX Nastran), including decision-making documentation and unequivocal data for manufacturing.

“NX allows us to ensure the finest details of the design,” explains Paul Laurens, KeyOx partner. “The effectiveness of NX is such that it is possible to optimize the product definition at any time during the collaborative process.”

Project management is even more effective with NX because the teams, internal and external, collaborate completely using a base file that is continually updated. This collaboration process for innovation therefore benefits from each person’s expertise within the scope of the defined objectives. As Laurens explains, “In this way NX enables us to increase our productivity in the range of 20 percent.”

This comes down to a 50 percent savings in product development time and its corollary, time-to-market, without having to sacrifice either design quality or product cost. A number of elements enable these savings. One is the very powerful, userfriendly and robust NX modeler, which allows working without any restrictions linked to the software. “There are no limits as to shape, which is essential for a designer. We do not have to adapt our design to the tool,” remarks Allély.

Another time-saving factor is the use of the same data during the entire design process. The designer and engineer work with the same NX software, taking the design intent and technical limitations into consideration. “It is the mark of the quality and robustness of the process,” explains Laurens. In addition, NX allows certain tasks to be done in parallel through strict structuring and management of the data using NX Wave functionality.

Digital prototypes created with NX save time by making it possible to evaluate the relevance of various technical solutions very early in the process. Simulations using NX Nastran allow mechanical, thermal, and fluid validation. NX with synchronous technology, as well as the effectiveness of the dual surface/volume modeling capability in NX, reduce re-design iterations to a minimum. Strong modeling functionality gives the designer or engineer the ability to intervene in the development even during the late phases of the process. Finally, NX design data is re-used throughout the project to document, support, speed up, and ensure the reliability of the product’s implementation phases: industrialization (NX models document the designer’s intent), manufacturing (NX data documents the control, assembly, and test phases), and pre-sales and sales (NX data is used for product documentation such as synthesis images, operational diagrams, and maintenance diagrams even before finishing the tooling).

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