Efficiency along the value chain
Aerospace supplier gains 25 percent time savings through engineering and manufacturing processes
Aerospace suppliers face many demands
Aerotech Peissenberg GmbH & Co. KG specializes in the manufacture of complex parts for the aviation industry. Its customers include such well-known companies as MTU Aero Engines, EADS, Rolls-Royce SNECMA and Volvo Aero Corporation.
Manufacturing complex, rotation-symmetrical components from Class 1A, highly heat-resistant materials requires expertise in metal processing and cutting. It also means that important worldwide customers and aviation authorities must give approval, and that the manufacturer must be certified according to ISO standards. To achieve all this, clearly defined, traceable manufacturing processes are essential, as well as detailed documentation covering all manufacturing steps. This documentation must be archived for at least 30 years.
To optimize internal and external processes, Aerotech decided to replace its existing high-end, Unix-based CAD system with a Windows-based solution. The new system was to be used for production planning and documentation as well as for the design of manufacturing equipment (such as special clamping devices and tools that are needed to guarantee that narrow tolerances can be realized). An interdisciplinary team under the leadership of Harald Dallmann, the person responsible for the use of CAD and applications development at Aerotech, started analyzing possible systems in 2004.
Two midrange systems, SolidWorks and Solid Edge® software, soon emerged as potential candidates. The team evaluated differently weighted criteria that included: 2D functionality, 3D functionality, interfaces, macro programming, standard parts, SAP integration, hardware and costs, both for procurement and also from the point of view of ongoing operating costs. Last but not least, the team looked at supplier competence and expertise. In early 2005, the team made the decision to replace the old system with Solid Edge.
Measurable success – and beyond
The anticipated benefits of the new system were achieved without question, due to good planning, a high degree of functionality and the fact that the system is easy to use. Further factors in the success of the project included effective interfaces and good cooperation among all involved, both inside and outside the company.
Between 10 and 15 percent time savings have now been achieved in all processes, and at least 25 percent less time is needed for drafting and submitting quotations. However, optimization that cannot be measured in precise concrete terms is just as important. The quality of the manufacturing documentation is now much better, and the use of 3D representations makes it easier to understand drawings, both for those who actually manufacture the parts as well as other employees – and of course for customers when they receive the quotations. For tool and jig makers too, work has become much clearer and more transparent through installation of viewing software on their PCs. This can be used for showing and also measuring the 3D models of the jigs in any way they like.
The functionality for generating component families, normally used for fast, parameter-controlled extrapolation of similar parts, is used at Aerotech to handle up to 25 different manufacturing processes of a component. This means that today all 2D manufacturing drawings are generated automatically from model variants – whereas before they had to be created individually.
An interface called Edge PLM for SAP, from ISAP AG, permits direct integration of Solid Edge CAD models into the company’s SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This makes CAD data available for all processes throughout the company.
All in all, the system change to Solid Edge has been completely worthwhile. The system is installed at 20 workstations, and the targets that were set, including integration with the SAP system, were achieved.