Aerospace & Defense
Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Duqueine Group specializes in the design and manufacture of composite parts and subassemblies for the aerospace and sports and leisure industries. The company is a leading player in the field of composite materials, and has a large range of engineering and industrial skills in the design and manufacture of high-performance parts for small and serial production.
Duqueine Group (Duqueine) was founded in 1982 by Gilles Duqueine, a specialist in composite materials who developed the first carbon shell for race cars. Initially, the company specialized in the manufacture of prototype race cars and composites processing. In 1992, Duqueine installed its first production line of carbon bicycle wheels and soon became one of the world leaders in that category, producing 20,000 annually.
In 2004, the company began to penetrate the aerospace sector thanks to a contract with Techspace Aero (Safran Group) for the research and implementation of collecting cold flux tunnels for the turbo reactors of the A380 aircraft. That same year, Duqueine also began developing airplane cabin interiors and first-class seat structures for EADS Sogerma and the Sicma Zodiac Group. That helped open other parallel mass markets in the sports and leisure industry, and led to producing security systems for racecar drivers.
With its industry-leading experience, Duqueine clearly aims to become internationally known in the field of composite structures. In the last decade, Duqueine’s staff has grown from 20 to 800 people. Duqueine’s market focus is now 85 percent aerospace, 10 percent general industries and 5 percent sports and leisure.
As part of its growth strategy, Duqueine management realized that deploying a good methodology and developing collaborative knowledge sharing required the company to implement tools that would help organize the operations of several departments. Duqueine started by conducting a benchmark among the leading product lifecycle management (PLM) vendors to identify the best product data management (PDM) and digital manufacturing solutions for its needs.
Siemens PLM Software won the benchmark because its Teamcenter® software and Tecnomatix® portfolio offered the best collaborative platform for reaching Duqueine’s needs. The fact that Teamcenter demonstrated its ability to easily manage the data created using CATIA® software, Duqueine’s computer-aided design (CAD) system, was also important. More than that, Duqueine’s management has found that Siemens PLM Software has proven to provide excellent support, which Duqueine considers critical to a successful deployment.
Duqueine made the initial deployment of Teamcenter in 2010, followed shortly thereafter with the Manufacturing Process Planner (MPP) solution in the Tecnomatix portfolio. MPP is embedded technology inside Teamcenter.
“We quickly realized that if we have a good bridge between the engineering department and manufacturing activities it will help us in terms of time-to-market and knowledge capture,” says Xavier Danger, head of engineering at Duqueine. “It will improve the consistency between shop floor data and data that is created by the engineering teams.”
The deployment of Tecnomatix for the manufacturing phase was a natural move because it was critical to maintain only one repository for sharing data and knowledge. “By selecting the Tecnomatix solution, we improved our position with our customers by reducing time-to-market and improving product quality,” says Danger.
Stéphanie Burgun, sales and communication director, adds, “We proved to our customers that a PLM solution is required because it helps eliminate design mistakes and helps improve product and process data quality.”
Another advantage of MPP is that it enables Duqueine to create standards for tasks and workflows. “With the Tecnomatix MPP solution, we were able to standardize tasks,” says Danger. “We can track the execution of each task. The engineers find that the solution helps define their work. All the work is controlled by the digital manufacturing solution.”
“Today, the PLM technology is the master for Duqueine’s design and technical data, with the ERP (enterprise resource planning) tool connected to this system,” says Danger. “Teamcenter enables consistent data at all times. Having a single repository enables Duqueine to achieve more efficient manufacturing scenarios. Before that, we had to try a manufacturing scenario and if it wasn’t good, we had to go back to the ERP system, revise the product and try again. We realized that a single repository is mandatory for our workflow.”
An important advantage of the Tecnomatix solution is the ability to validate data. “With the digital manufacturing solution, we can capture product data and link it directly to our ERP system,” says Danger. “When we build the bill of materials (BOM) and bill of processes (BOP), we can validate it and transfer it to our ERP system. We know there aren’t any mistakes in the data and that data in the PLM system can also be present in the ERP system. Moreover, the system enables us to always work with the latest version of the data.”
As a result of data consistency validation, Duqueine has reduced time-to-market from 30 to 14 months. “Before using MPP, the operator had to collect information from several people,” notes Danger. “Sometimes it even took a while to realize that some of the data was missing or out-of-date. Now, we have all the data in one repository, so both engineers and operators have all the up-to-date information in one place. Before using the MPP application, data was added manually. Now, with the application, a number of the procedures are automated, and this eliminates human mistakes.”
Duqueine’s engineers see the template functionality of MPP as a huge advantage because it enables workers to re-use an existing model to generate a new BOM and BOP. “The re-use of the template makes the work much easier,” says Danger. “Often, we have multiple customers with products that have similar geometry, which makes adaptation very easy. Using the templates is of great value to Duqueine. In fact, 60 to 70 percent of the data for both BOM and BOP are created through templates. This is a huge savings for us.” He points out that a good example of template usage is the test nacelle equipment program in which there is recurring production.
Currently, there are 150 Teamcenter users in four sites at Duqueine. In Massieux, 18 manufacturing engineers use MPP on a daily basis and are responsible for manufacturing planning and the bridge to the ERP system. After the product engineers create the BOM data, the manufacturing engineers create the BOP data. The BOM is then used inside the BOP.
The use of MPP provides a straightforward way to consume parts during the planning process. Danger explains, “The test nacelle equipment is made of 1,500 different parts. This is a complex product and assembly process. If the BOM and the BOP would only exist on the ERP, it would have been very difficult to manage the changes. With the digital manufacturing solution, we can just use the component we want to utilize on a specific operation. Considering the significant number of components in larger assemblies, the advantage is even greater.” Machine tools are also managed using Teamcenter and linked to the BOP using the MPP application.
The manufacturing engineers are also responsible for the creation of work instructions. The work instructions are created using Microsoft Office® software technology – Word software and Excel® spreadsheet software. The document is attached to an object in MPP and is actually part of the BOP. The BOP data is filtered to extract the exact BOM. After the data is created and updated using MPP, the data is transferred to ERP through an Excel export.
ERP is used solely to manage production data, while PLM is used to manage all the technical information that is needed on the shop floor, including raw materials files, numerical control (NC) programs and milling applications.
The workers on the shop floor get work instructions that contain all the steps they need to perform their duties. The workers can also access related 3D data using the MPP tool that further clarifies the work to be performed. The 3D data created with CATIA is converted and delivered in the form of JT™ data format files.
Other important MPP capabilities that Duqueine uses are traceability and configuration management. “All our customers have lots of requirements and the requirements are often changed,” says Danger. “With the digital manufacturing tools, we can manage different versions and different variants. We supply the same component with different variants to different sites. With this solution, we know the exact product variant for each customer.”
The MPP application helps both manufacturing engineers and manufacturing technicians to manage changes in a BOM. When there is a change in a BOM, they are notified that a specific BOM was changed. They then run the Impact Analysis application to know which subassembly was affected by the BOM change, and check what they need to do to adapt this change relative to the BOP. If the change is significant, a new version is created for the specific parts in the BOM.
Currently, the integrated Teamcenter and Tecnomatix solution is used in all new Duqueine programs, with the airplane cabin program making the most extensive use of it.
“Tecnomatix enables us to create high-performance parts for our customers in a short period of time,” says Jerome Aubry, senior vice president, marketing and business development manager. “We create the machine to fit the exact requirements of our customers.”
To compete aggressively and stay at the top of the market, Duqueine must maintain its capacity for high-performance part production. “We know that if we want to succeed with many customers in France, we have to develop and work on high-performance parts,” says Danger. “This is our way to develop business with new customers and to increase profitability. The Tecnomatix portfolio helps us reach higher quality standards.”
One of the important challenges Duqueine faces is moving to mass production: “We started discussions with big customers in the automobile industry,” says Danger. “It is a challenge for us to be able to manufacture large quantities of parts. To reach this goal, we need to invest in our production lines.”
The same goes for the tidal turbine industry: “To be in this market, we need to adapt our production strategy and production lines,” notes Danger. “We need to improve our time-to-market. This is something we can reach with the Tecnomatix digital manufacturing solution. It represents a key conduit on our roadmap to growth.” Danger adds, “Other markets comprising Duqueine’s success strategy include space, telecommunications and automotive.”