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Heidelberger Druckmaschinen develops and manufactures sheet-fed offset printing machines, establishing its credentials as one of the leading solution providers for the print media industry.
Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is one of the world’s leading solution providers for sheet-fed offset printing. Apart from printing presses, the company’s product portfolio includes plate imaging devices and finishing equipment, as well as software components designed to integrate all print manufacturing processes.
The company’s sheet-fed presses are sophisticated systems comprised of assemblies containing 60,000 to 80,000 parts; even their subassemblies consist of more than 2,000 parts. Approximately 450 design engineers create new custom and semi-custom models for approximately 200,000 customers around the world.
Assemblies of this scale involve the use of an enormous amount of data, which consistently taxes the limits of today’s hardware and software. In addition, the complexity of these assemblies and subassemblies increases as more components are used. For example, presses increasingly consist of electronic, hydraulic and pneumatic modules that include wires, tubes and even software.
For a number of years, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen has been using NX™ software – Siemens PLM Software’s 3D CAD/CAM/CAE system – for all of the company’s digital product definition tasks. As Heidelberg’s products have increased in complexity and involved the use of more component modules, the company has broadened the scope of the tasks that NX is required to perform. From design to mechanical detailing, from sheet metal design to tubing and wiring, from FEM calculation to kinematics, from NC programming of machining tools to computer-based simulation of machining processes, NX now supports all of these functions.
Just as importantly, the company considers it essential to re-use its 3D models as part of its initiative to improve product development efficiency. The company decided to achieve this vertically throughout a series of processes that range from finite element model (FEM) calculation to prototype and model definition in production and service – as well as horizontally throughout its products and their modules. Moreover, the company’s re-use initiative depends on data quality.
The quality of CAD data and its re-use require consistent and obligatory rules and guidelines, which need to be generated in cooperation with Heidelberg’s user community. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen has implemented a sound and comprehensive CAD training program. In addition, Heidelberg’s users are able to rely on tailor-made consulting services for their everyday work. These services include an always available CAD Helpdesk that provides CAD consultants who are assigned to help team members work on new development projects. Heidelberg’s user community and work groups also discuss work methodologies among themselves.
A tool integrated with NX for automated part testing provides a second level for CAD data quality control. Currently, each model is evaluated by 58 different test routines to avoid flaws from the outset, such as outdated drawing status. Thirty-eight tests are required for approval. The quality department performs the final check in this program as single models are chosen at random and verified in an external audit that applies given rules and guidelines.
When the latest version of NX was introduced, Heidelberg made the effort to verify in detail the announced enhancements with respect to large assembly performance improvement. Guenter Zentgraf, who is the systems administrator for Heidelberg’s CAx IT Infrastructure F&E, observed significant improvements in several facets: “The handling performance of huge assemblies increased significantly, including loading and changing between assemblies.”
Heidelberg also wanted to leverage another NX advantage by becoming less dependent on the Windows® XP operating system. According to Zentgraf, it was important that NX enable the CAD system and operating system to proceed on a decoupled basis. This has now happened.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of Heidelberg’s design engineers successfully operate on the new NX platform. Assemblies with 60 to 80,000 parts still reach the system’s limits. However, special approaches combined with the “product outline” feature (visualization based on the JT™ data format) enable engineers to load complete printing devices and transfer them to the appropriate assembly modules. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen benefits from this as problems, such as those encountered during the laying of circuits, tubes and cables, are solved more easily within the context of the assembly.
New assembly connections are now more stable and easier to manage: “Our assemblies are created much faster and with fewer mouse clicks,” says Zentgraf. With the consistent user interface of NX, Heidelberg is able to realize continuous development, which is also facilitated by simpler handling and fewer clicks.
As Zentgraf indicates, “At first, the re-setting is connected to costs. However, with NX, every change definitely led to higher productivity.” A new, in-depth and revised sheet metal module makes it possible to receive native NX modules that can be directly integrated into assemblies from sheet metal suppliers. The CAM enhancements of NX generate additional advantages for the company.
The integrated digital product definition based on NX – which extends from product development to manufacturing – has significantly contributed to Heidelberg’s shorter development cycles. The company’s ability to increasingly re-use its models throughout a complete process chain has contributed to this improvement. The company is now able to manage many more new projects with the same staff – a clear demonstration of how Heidelberg is able to leverage NX to increase its competitiveness.