Case Study

Precision engineering specialist shortens time needed to develop mechanical components and production equipment by 30 percent


Using Solid Edge and Femap, Brovedani delivers higher volumes with greater accuracy

Organization and creativity behind innovation

Among the key strengths of the Brovedani Group (Brovedani) are organization and creativity. These have been proven continually by innovations introduced in the field of business-to-business precision engineering, both in product concept delivery and the parallel cross-functional development of manufacturing processes, including industrialization.

Brovedani consists of three companies and six manufacturing sites that share strategic direction and established values derived from a corporate culture and history dating back to 1947, when the company was originally founded in Pordenone. Today, Brovedani has become a leading supplier to global corporations like Bosch, Continental, Daimler, Delphi, Eaton, Magna, Magneti Marelli, Sanden, VCST and others.

“There are so many cars on the road that have incorporated a Brovedani component,” says Giuseppe Mainardis, process design development director at Brovedani in San Vito al Tagliamento, near Pordenone. Initially launched as a subcontractor specializing in the production of screws and small pins, the company gradually expanded to large-volume production. Subsequently, Brovedani’s successful venture into the automotive industry resulted in the opening of new factories close to the assembly lines of customers, from Bari to Perignano (near Pisa).

Tackling new markets

In 2005, Brovedani built a greenfield site in Slovakia; in 2009, the company acquired the majority share of a company in Mexico that would enable it to open up new markets. Such acquisitions were often driven by customers wanting greater efficiencies and lower production costs. “Now we have plans to approach the Asian market, including building a new factory in India,” says Mainardis. “Currently, 98 percent of our business is represented by the production of high-precision parts for the automotive industry, with tolerances below one micron. Brovedani’s specialty is its ability to produce high-precision parts in large volumes for different process stages. We don’t handle just single processes, but all machining operations, thermal treatment and transfer operations.”

As a result of its operational approach and to further secure a competitive edge, the company established a dedicated equipment and automation department. Mainardis explains, “We are not mere subcontractors. We prefer to be involved in the design and development of the products requested by our customers. Being directly involved in all technology aspects, we can stand close to the customer and be highly proactive on one side, and develop final product and production equipment in parallel on the other, designing parts so that their production is cost-effective.”

Tools for continual improvement

Industrial equipment design requires advanced technology tools. Like many mechanical engineering companies, Brovedani made the transition from the drawing board to 2D design software in the early 90s, and then introduced 3D computer-aided design (CAD) in 1999. “Our decision to implement a 3D tool was driven by the need to cut costs, to increase product performance, to develop a bigger number of machines and to ensure the technical quality of products,” notes Mainardis. “After an extensive analysis of product lifecycle management (PLM) software, including testing solutions for a month, we selected Solid Edge from Siemens PLM Software. We chose Solid Edge not only because the product is proven, but also because it is widely deployed in the automotive industry, both across our customer and supplier sites. We noticed the widespread use of Solid Edge at a global level, not only in Italy.” He adds, “Clearly, information and data exchange is quicker and more reliable if all parties involved use the same software.”

The implementation of Solid Edge® software began with a one-week training session on two workstations in the offices of CCS Team, the Siemens PLM Software partner that has been supporting Brovedani from the start of the project. “CCS Team has always provided excellent service, starting from the conversion of our 2D design heritage, up to user training in well-equipped rooms on their premises,” says Mainardis. When we adopted Solid Edge, 3D was a new technology; therefore, users had to be trained not only on the software itself, but on a totally new approach to design.”

Use of Solid Edge enables 30 percent savings in the part and machinery development cycle

The implementation of Solid Edge started in the company’s design department, which had the most urgent need to extend its capabilities and productivity. After its initial deployment of the software in 2008, Brovedani acquired additional licenses for the use of Solid Edge, choosing different configurations according to specific requirements. “To design industrial equipment, full licenses are required, including sheet metal, cabling and other functionality, while design and drafting licenses are proficient for handling small drawings and machines,” says Mainardis. “Solid Edge has become a corporate standard and will now be extended to the plant floor, including our factories in Italy, Slovakia and Mexico.”

The benefits realized at Brovedani using Solid Edge are tangible and measurable. Virtually everly project is complex. There are 3,000 to 4,000 components and approximately 800 2D drawings for each machine, which is essentially a unique piece. The level of customization is very high. “Our decision to apply 3D to the design and development of standalone machines was pioneering,” says Mainardis. “However, there are a few standard components that are common to all machines, and here, use of Solid Edge makes it easy to re-use the data. Overall, we estimate an approximate 30 percent savings in our part and machinery development cycle.

Use of Femap provides competitive advantage with customers

In 2005, Brovedani added Femap™ software to complement Solid Edge in managing the increasing complexity of its machines. Femap has proved to be a very effective productivity tool for Brovedani, enabling its designers to quickly and easily address the structural analysis of automation systems installed on machinery early in the development cycle. “Our automation requirements are quite advanced, so it is essential to have an analysis and verification tool like Femap,” says Mainardis. “Using Femap has been instrumental in supporting our relations and interactions with quite a few customers.”

The next step in PLM

“Until recently, the engineering organization was based in San Vito, where the entire product development cycle and subsequent modifications requested by customers were carried out,” notes Mainardis. “Currently, to handle our outsourcing and distribution operations, we must keep all project development and update activities under strict control. We want everyone to comply with corporate standards and to share all information. An engineering change carried out in Mexico, for instance, can be useful in other locations, so it must be distributed and accessible throughout the group.”

Enter Teamcenter® software for complete PLM and even smarter decisions. Brovedani and other key Brovedani representatives evaluated the software, and then did so again with the support of CCS Team. “Our target is to finalize the project and be up and running by the end of 2012,” he says. “Today, the group employs almost 1,000 people, with approximately 50 persons directly involved in engineering data management. By implementing Teamcenter, we plan to make technical information also available to our people in manufacturing, sales, provisioning and other business areas.”

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