Iconic bicycle component manufacturer kicks new product development into a higher gear
Campagnolo uses NX and Teamcenter to digitize the entire product development cycle
Benchmark for design of groupsets and wheels
Campagnolo S.r.l. is an iconic, globally recognized, high-end sports cycling brand. Founded in Vicenza in 1933 by Commendatore Tullio Campagnolo, the company expanded over the years, while focusing on three fundamental concepts: performance, technological innovation and quality of products and services.
Today, the company operates in more than 30 countries, exporting 80 percent of its products to the United States, the United Kingdom, Benelux, Germany, France, Spain and Japan. Campagnolo products are known for embracing new technology, including the use of top-quality materials from the aerospace industry, such as carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum alloys. The company is a benchmark for design, as evidenced by the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award from the Associazione Design Italiano in recognition of the Veloce groupset, Ergopower integrated controls and Shamal high-profile wheels. (A groupset is a bicycle manufacturer’s organized collection of mechanical parts.)
It normally takes almost three years for Campagnolo to develop a complete product groupset. However, a highly competitive and ever-changing market has led the company to squeeze the cycle down to two years, starting from project specifications. Stefano Garbin, CAD/CAE/PLM (computer-aided design/computer-aided engineering/product lifecycle management) and computing technology manager, says that development consists of different stages: from concept to technical pre-series, from industrial pre-series to production launch. “With very narrow deadlines, we need flexible tools that allow us to view each part inside the overall assembly,” says Garbin. “Because we have high component re-use rates, when we decide to change an existing component, we have to consider the possible performance impact on the entire range. A simple spring, for instance, can be found in 70 percent of our present and past groupsets.”
The share of new components in a new groupset design can reach 50 percent, while for simple restyling projects it can be as low as 10-15 percent. The company must ensure full traceability and preserve all the documentation of the development cycle, in case of complaints or legal issues. “Campagnolo must always be at the top of performance,” says Garbin. “Our products are at the high end of the market. We are a sort of a Ferrari for bikes, with the difference being that, besides performance, ergonomics and weight, we also have to deliver products at a reasonable price.”
The technical department of Campagnolo has been using NX™ software from Siemens PLM Software to design groupsets, wheels and other components since 2000. With a tool such as NX being used to boost design productivity, the company was soon confronted with the challenge of handling a huge volume of project data with all related changes. “Each designer was used to saving projects on their own PC,” says Garbin. “If you just changed a tiny spring in a groupset or a spoke in a wheel and forgot to update one or two assemblies out of thirty, this was enough to generate unsustainable issues and confusion, wasting time and money due to errors.”
Campagnolo management started searching for a PLM solution, scouting a variety of options and finally identifying Teamcenter® software, also from Siemens PLM Software, as the most suitable technology to address its needs, especially considering its tight integration with NX. “NX and Teamcenter are two faces of the same coin and they work best when they run together,” says Garbin. “Their integration level increases at each new release.”
Teamcenter was implemented gradually, because company management wanted to minimize the impact on the engineering department. Initially, a pilot test with a few designers was conducted and then the solution was deployed on a team-by-team basis. Without migrating the entire legacy archive in bulk, new components were developed using Teamcenter first, only importing the necessary parts to complete or modify assemblies.
Tidy and fast
The use of Teamcenter at Campagnolo has evolved from basic CAD vaulting to simple workflows in the technical area. Legacy paper-based processes were initially converted to electronic form, then gradually modified, enhanced and optimized.
“We have completely eliminated paper, with annual savings in the range of several thousand Euros,” says Garbin. “Now all data are managed electronically using Teamcenter, with approval workflows involving the development of groupsets, electronics and wheels. At the end of each workflow, PDF (portable document format) files are generated automatically for approved and tested products that are sent to manufacturing. The Teamcenter workflow continues with our ERP (enterprise resource planning) software, through one-way communication interfaces that we have developed internally thanks to the easy customization options of Teamcenter.”
Garbin has a clear vision of the tangible benefits offered by Teamcenter, starting with organization, speed and efficiency in creating new products and in updating existing ones. With stricter control, errors in the engineering departments have been cut by approximately 50 percent. “With an ever-expanding product range and increasing complexity, we could no longer manage all information manually,” notes Garbin. “With Teamcenter, we can now handle the complexity of our portfolio more effectively, keep control of huge data volumes and, consequently, we have cut unnecessary work for late modifications and corrections in half.”
Two years ago, Campagnolo launched an electronic derailleur gear that relieves the hassle of fine adjustment. Instead of operating mechanical levers and cables, the bike rider simply presses buttons that send information to a central control unit, which in turn issues commands to and gets feedback from the derailleur gears, delivering accurate self-adjustment in virtually any situation.
“To develop our electronic derailleur gear, we used the electronic design software OrCAD by Cadence, which provides a specific integration with Teamcenter,” Garbin says. “It is vital to manage all electronic component specifications systematically, because electronic parts are subject to frequent updates, and communications with suppliers must be as quick and reliable as possible. The printed circuit boards designed with OrCAD are inserted into the model created with NX as simple shapes and then they are managed using Teamcenter, just like all other project data.”
Campagnolo is not only a star of the cycling world, but also in sports in general. The Wall Street Journal named it as one of the most prominent sports brands in the world. This reputation has been earned not only through countless racing successes, but also by virtue of the attention Campagnolo places on delivering the highest quality and service, which has earned the company a tangible competitive edge in its sector.