Using Solid Edge, Forss Consulting becomes a prominent player in the high-tech design market
Company doubles design productivity
Special focus on production rate and quality of design
Founded in 2007, Forss Consulting provides engineering services to manufacturers and machinery equipment design organizations. The company has made a number of significant contributions to the manufacturing equipment design of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). The reactor, which is the world’s largest, is intended to provide enormous amounts of energy while meeting the strictest environmental safety regulations.
ITER is designed to solve the energy supply problems of the future and is being constructed jointly by the European Union (EU) countries, USA, Russia, South Korea, India, China and Japan. The reactor will be erected at the Cadarache research center in southern France. Many experts believe that ITER is the worlds’ most advanced science-driven engineering project.
Forss Consulting’s headcount is just 11, including 5 design engineers who handle all machinery design projects, including the large-scale ones. The company’s leadership believes that the high productivity of such a small workforce can be attained through competent management and the use of the most advanced computer-aided design (CAD) technologies.
“As we established the company, we had a business goal to turn our high production rate and quality of design into a competitive advantage,” recalls Andrei Pugachev, chief machinery projects designer, and one of Forss Consulting’s co-founders. “To support the company’s growth sustainably, we have to work quickly and make design documentation fully compliant with the Russian national unified system of design documentation, known as ESKD, as well as with international standards. Today, this can only be done by using software solutions for computer-aided design and production planning at every project stage, from conceptual design to manufacturing.”
Having analyzed the CAD market, Forss Consulting’s managers opted for Solid Edge® software from Siemens PLM Software. The most significant advantage of using Solid Edge was its ease of integration with other CAD systems.
Working in a multi-CAD environment
From the very beginning, the company realized that project development would require working in a multi-CAD environment. For instance, Forss Consulting has been involved in manufacturing the equipment design for making the РF1 poloidal field coil, one of six coils in the ITER’s magnetic system, under a contract with the D. Yefremov Research Institute for Electrophysical Equipment (NIIEFA), the leading organization responsible for the Russian portion of the ITER project.
The Russian portion of the project has been done with the help of Solid Edge, while the primary CAD system was from another vendor. Solid Edge costs about one third of the cost of the primary CAD system used for similar applications in the ITER project, and lower cost was one of the reasons Forss Consulting chose Solid Edge. “The multi-CAD environment did not make the work complicated or costly, because Solid Edge features two-way CAD geometry translators for geometry exchange with other CAD systems,” Pugachev says.
“We have tested Solid Edge for data translation from various CAD systems,” says Pugachev. “The results have shown that Solid Edge is the right choice for machinery design. Besides, Solid Edge handles large assemblies better than other CAD systems. It is very important since our company implements large-scale projects.”
Forss Consulting design engineers enjoy using Solid Edge because of its easy integration with other CAD systems, its ability to handle large assemblies, the ease of developing drawings compliant with ESKD and international standards, the availability of visualization tools for customer approval at various design stages, and the software’s production planning capabilities.
The deployment of Solid Edge at the company’s design and manufacturing departments was fast and easy. “The key to the new technology’s successful implementation is its short learning curve and the experts’ commitment,” Pugachev says. “The designers realized that the CAD deployment would greatly improve their productivity and efficiency. It took us a short time to learn the basic functionality of Solid Edge. Then the skills and design practices improved as the engineers learned more about the system’s comprehensive functionality.”
The company standard for project development is now Solid Edge.
A way to new energy sources
One of the first projects that the company implemented using Solid Edge was the PF1 coil 3D model development for ITER. Forss Consulting was tasked with developing the 3D model from 2D drawings forwarded to NIIEFA by the international body that manages the ITER project. The required level of in-depth engineering and the need for manufacturability analysis of the proposed design decisions have fully unleashed the power of Solid Edge.
The customer (NIIEFA) gave the company just four months to develop the 3D model, produce the design documentation and assess the manufacturing options by visualizing the major operations. With the help of Solid Edge, the job was done on time by two designers. It was very easy to import the data from another CAD system into Solid Edge. Subsequently, the 3D model was used in the manufacturing equipment design for making the PF1 coil.
The 3D digital mockup with the 2D drawings was presented to NIIEFA. The videos clearly showed how the components would be moved around during construction and final assembly. The task of visually representing the product structure and the manufacturing technology was accomplished. Forss Consulting has also used Solid Edge on several other ITER-related projects.
In addition to design work, Solid Edge was used for manufacturing process development, including setup charts based on models created with Solid Edge, and models submitted by other ITER participants who use different CAD systems. The free JT2Go viewer provided by Siemens PLM Software enables NIIEFA to review the digital mockups at various project stages. It also made the authoring of illustrated engineering reports easier.
Special cyclotron project
In 2011, under NIIEFA supervision, Forss Consulting carried out another advanced project, designing the 3D models and developing design documentation for the cyclotron unit CC1/3 solenoids. The customer was the Vinča Nuclear Institute (Serbia, Beograd).
Within five months, three designers developed the 3D models and design documentation for the solenoids used in proton beam with acceleration from one to three MeV. The entire project was done using Solid Edge, which helped enable further visualization, step-to-step assembly and manufacturing operations.
Forss Consulting’s designers solve both functional and ergonomic issues. For example, they’ll select the most appropriate colors of parts and housings. The “Virtual Studio” solution in Solid Edge makes it possible to show the customer how the product will look at various locations and under various lighting conditions. The designer works closely with each customer to choose the best-looking option.
Doubling the speed of design
Pugachev believes that using a convenient CAD system along with the designers’ skills has driven the company’s rapid growth and competitive advantage in the engineering services market. “Using such an advanced CAD system as Solid Edge nearly doubles the speed of design,” Pugachev estimates. “The five designers at Forss Consulting carry out from three to five projects a year. The average project development time is four to five months, while with the previous CAD system, it would have taken from a year to a year-and-a-half. The rate could be even faster if we perform serial production projects.”
The quality of design is high and sustainable; all the design documentation is compliant with ESKD and international standards. Modeling with Solid Edge allows you to closely follow the assembly sequence at the factory. The designer becomes the assembler and identifies any issues that may hamper the assembly, eliminates them, and updates the design documentation with the product’s or unit’s assembly instructions. In terms of business development, using Solid Edge helps a customer get visual reports at various project stages.
Increasing technological advantage
Forss Consulting plans on continuing the productive and mutually beneficial cooperation with Siemens PLM Software. The company intends to purchase more Solid Edge licenses as it expands its designer/engineer workforce. There are also plans to implement Teamcenter® software for complete lifecycle management. The company is also considering Femap™ software for engineering analysis.
“It is obvious for us that Siemens PLM Software’s technologies give us a competitive advantage,” Pugachev says. “And it will be a key reason for our future success.”