Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho Co., Ltd. provides superior metal processing engineering technology for the manufacture of diverse high technology products, such as IT instrument enclosures, optical equipment enclosures, automobile equipment, various metal containers and sheet metal building materials. The company also offers metal surface treatment for stainless steel, aluminum, titanium and other metals/composites.
Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho Co., Ltd. is well known for its superior metal processing engineering technology, which includes die design, processing, surface treatment and measurement. Using proven expertise and superior die design technologies, Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho helps companies produce an impressive array of high techbased products, many of which are used daily in Japan and around the world. These products include IT instrument enclosures, optical equipment enclosures, automobile equipment, PC enclosures, and more.
Among advanced tools, Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho uses Siemens Digital Industries Software’s NX™ software for die face modeling. Having achieved outstanding results leveraging NX in its product development process, Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho planned to extend its 3D design capabilities companywide. Management noted that doing so represents a key part of realizing even more advanced and efficient engineering processes.
“NX is well-suited for our specialized die face modeling needs, as well as a variety of other design applications, providing excellent NC path generation capabilities and compatibility with our CAM software,” says Takashi Nakayama, an engineer in the Development Group of the Technology Department at Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho. “However, we did not require the comprehensive product development depth of NX for our extended-enterprise CAD needs.”
Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho sought a solution that featured advanced 3D capabilities, adaptable licensing structure and attractive operating costs. “After reviewing several leading mid marketoriented products, we chose Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Solid Edge,” says Nakayama, who is in charge of implementing the Solid Edge® software throughout the organization. “Not only does Solid Edge provide leading-edge 3D functionality, but its license and implementation structure represents a smart investment, the right fit for our needs. Solid Edge is easy to learn and easy to use.”
Nakayama notes, “With Solid Edge and NX both from Siemens, there is absolutely no issue in exchanging data between the systems; it’s absolutely seamless.”
The company’s Technology Department designs press dies based on the parts data it receives from its customers, including creating part drawings, assembly drawings and other design documents that will be required for the manufacturing process. Traditionally, this die design process was done using 2D CAD, and the die face subsequently modeled using 3D. However, with 3D technology so prominent, most of Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho’s customers are now using it to design their products. In fact, most parts and assembly data are now in some kind of 3D format. The time had come for the company’s die designers, who were using a 2D process, to leverage the rich design information and geometry data contained in the 3D model received from customers. Die design would become an entirely 3D-based process, including creating the die in 3D, versus having to redesign the die based on the interpretation of 2D drawings.
In order to ensure a successful new die development process, Nakayama was assigned to implement Solid Edge while developing a pilot program that would eventually become the new 3D modeling process. Six months after the initial implementation, Nakayama is designing dies completely in Solid Edge. Furthermore, the 3D-based process has been established and proven successful from design through production.
Management considered implementation a significant issue. A fast start with highly productive users portends well for the long-term. A slow start with unhappy users sometimes leads to significant problems. “Appropriate training was deemed essential,” says Nakayama. “However, management also felt that system usability represented another important point. When we started to review various 3D CAD systems, we received advice from Albi Technology Co., Ltd., a Siemens Digital Industries Software partner. We had already been working with Albi Technology for our CAM implementation, so we were comfortable with their knowledge of product lifecycle management-based applications.”
Albi Technology recommended Solid Edge. Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho was impressed with Solid Edge after a demonstration of its capabilities. The company felt that Solid Edge offered the right functionality to meet its needs, as well as provided the type of licensing and cost structure that the company wanted. Solid Edge just made good business sense. “With Solid Edge we only needed the standard introductory training to get our users ramped up and ready for real-world assignments,” notes Nakayama.
As the training was wrapping up, Nakayama was beginning to apply Solid Edge to actual projects. “Naturally, there was some trial and error while transitioning from training mode to real-world production; nonetheless, our Solid Edge implementation went quite smoothly,” says Nakayama. “So much so that the thought of going back to what had been our comfort zones in the 2D environment never even crossed my mind.”
The speedy implementation and immediate project productivity is the byproduct of synchronous technology. “Synchronous technology is one of the key enablers for a quick start up,” says Nakayama. “Synchronous technology, which is implemented in both Solid Edge and NX, greatly contributes to a remarkably fast learning curve on the part of CAD users with literally no 3D design experience. The users don’t have to worry about history, yet get the speed and flexibility of direct modeling with the precise control of feature-based design. Regardless of the past 3D CAD operations performed on a part, users can easily create whatever geometry they want. Such effortless operability is achieved through the same functionality that enables the easy transformation of existing 2D drawings in DXF format into 3D geometry.”
One of the benefits of implementing Solid Edge is the easy distribution of data throughout the die development process. Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho was already using NX for die face modeling and other modeling operations in order to leverage NX compatibility with the company’s CAM software (relative to NC path generation). Data exchange between Solid Edge and NX is absolutely seamless. In addition, there are periods when more than 90 percent of the data that the company receives from outside sources is in some form 3D. The standard for the exchange of product model data (referred to as STEP) and Siemens’ Parasolid® software XT files are among the most commonly used formats for data exchange. Solid Edge readily handles these and other data formats, and with synchronous technology, imported models can be edited as if they were native designs.
If the original data format is in NX, Solid Edge imports it without any translation. By passing 3D models along with 2D drawings to the shop floor, personnel can work from common images and share the same understanding of manufacturing intent, which is particularly advantageous for large models. “Errors in complex products have dramatically decreased,” says Nakayama. “This demonstrates that if 3D data is distributed from design through production, total optimization of the development process is possible.”
Nakayama notes, “We’ve only been using Solid Edge with synchronous technology for six months, yet we know we’ve made substantial improvements in terms of productivity. And we know there are great opportunities for additional improvement in our development process. Once we have a number of finished projects for measurement, I am quite confident that using Solid Edge, we will achieve an approximately 30 percent or more improvement in design process efficiency compared to our prior design and engineering approach.”
Another major reason Toyo Rikagaku Kenkyusho chose Solid Edge is value. In much of its design and engineering work, the high-end functionality of NX is not required. Nakayama explains, “NX is a great technology, but we use it only when its functionality is truly needed. It is important for us to have strong 3D CAD capabilities, but at an investment that fits our financial requirements in order to distribute it companywide,” says Nakayama. “Engineers in our Technology Department are in charge of the entire development project – from end-to-end. They actually go to the shop floor and to customer sites to complete their work. Typically, they are not working in a specific design room.”
According to Nakayama, plans are in place for every engineer in the Technology Department to learn and leverage Solid Edge. He adds, “In the near future, when every single engineer has shifted to Solid Edge, there is no doubt that we will have a tenfold increase in 3D use based on a single best-practice approach, and no doubt this will bring substantially greater efficiency to our company.”