Ansaldo Energia is Italy’s major provider of power plants, with global operations serving the public sector, independent energy producers and industrial customers.
Over the years, Ansaldo Energia (AEN) has implemented a full-featured product lifecycle management (PLM) solution with Teamcenter® software from Siemens Digital Industries Software. Teamcenter has been progressively extended to handle data for component design, configuration management, product classification, and configuration and document management. The next step is to integrate plant engineering and service.
AEN is a full-cycle, integrated operator, with the capabilities to build turnkey power plants on green field sites using its own technologies and its own independent design, production, construction, commissioning and service resources. Italy’s largest manufacturer of turbines and thermal power plants is divided into three main product lines: gas turbines, steam turbines and generators. For AEN, PLM is a vital and strategic tool to manage information, processes and resources in order to support the entire plant lifecycle.
Today, all applications are used in conjunction with Teamcenter, which provides significant benefits in cost savings and organizational efficiency.
AEN uses Teamcenter to manage all 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data and the corresponding product structures and configurations, leveraging change and configuration management functionalities. Also, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) data are completely integrated with engineering information, providing factory employees with all relevant information on dedicated kiosks that display electronic work instructions in 2D, 3D, notes, production data, etc.
“The great business value of Teamcenter is information traceability and reliability in engineering as well as in production, where we have implemented Teamcenter for manufacturing,” says Mauro Macciò, the chief engineer for structural analysis at AEN.
Based on the pilot projects and considering the different types of applications (data management, process management and optimization), AEN managers estimate that Teamcenter has helped them reduce design process time by 10 to 15 percent.
“What users value most in Teamcenter is the intangible benefit of being able to retrieve and review all past calculations, trace each process and all data used, and also re-use processes from other people knowing that the data is reliable because you can make a direct comparison between different solutions,” says Macciò.
AEN also estimates that it has increased component re-use by 20 to 40 percent and consolidated corporate know-how in about 80 design practices.
“Teamcenter is a key source of information for anyone involved in the design and validation of designs based on real-world data,” says Stefano Santucci, a business process analyst who is in charge of PLM operations, software and related processes at AEN.
Santucci works with Development Engineering, Product Engineering, Production Engineering and Maintenance Engineering.
“I joined the company at the time Teamcenter was being adopted,” says Santucci. “The software was introduced in 1998 as a management system for machinery and plant documentation. Later it was extended to materials and product structure, and finally change management was also deployed.
“In 2008, a pilot project in the manufacturing domain was launched to reorganize all factory operations through the implementation of Teamcenter Manufacturing. We introduced a system to manage machining cycles and manufacturing bills of materials (MBOMs), the use of resources, tooling, equipment and machinery, and integration with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Ansaldo Energia has a portfolio that includes diverse numerical control (NC) equipment, so accurate management is required.”
In 2008, the Development Engineering unit was created with a team of 150 people to create new machines (gas turbines, steam turbines and electric generators) and refurbish existing models. The creation of this team met a specific need.
“Until 2005, AEN worked under the umbrella of licensors, for whom it built gas turbines and other equipment,” says Macciò. “Following the decision to give up subcontracting, it was necessary to create Centers of Excellence for all disciplines focused on development issues and feedback collection from the operation of equipment in the field, so this information could be transferred to production.
“The new department gathered different units and staff from Ansaldo Ricerche to deal with development projects, with no direct involvement in production issues,” says Macciò. “This unit is involved with teams that work on products using a crossdiscipline approach – everything from mechanical engineering and aerodynamics to secondary air cooling. Based on the experience of Finmeccanica and other international companies, we recognized the need to adopt a solution that could unite all disciplinary teams involved in product development, approval and release.
“That’s how the Teamcenter project was born. The value of Teamcenter was acknowledged by the Finmeccanica Group, which awarded Siemens Digital Industries Software an innovation award.”
Davide Pinna, member of product innovation and development in Development Engineering, closely monitored the Collaborative Engineering project, resulting in the implementation of Teamcenter for Simulation to manage engineering processes.
“Our goal was to find a single tool to manage all development and design data and processes, enabling adequate design optimization,” Pinna says. “After conducting an accurate screening based on a questionnaire, followed by a test case on the thermomechanical design of a turbine blade, we realized that there was no perfect solution, but rather products that were more suitable for data and process management, and others that were more efficient for optimization purposes. Therefore, we selected one in each category, including Teamcenter, to manage data and macro processes.”
To define the new platform, three pilot projects were carried out on real components. The first pilot revolved around data and process management for the design of a compressor blade, a new concept that involved the aerodynamics and mechanical engineering disciplines.
The second pilot was conducted on an existing component requiring a verification process on a turbine blade in which 3D models were available in the corporate storage system. In this process, all data and documents exchanged among the participating disciplines (aerodynamics, heat exchange, secondary air system and mechanical engineering) had to be managed. The goal of the second pilot was the complete management of data generated during the design process of a cooled turbine blade.
The third pilot related to the design of an existing turbine blade, involving heat exchange and mechanical engineering disciplines, in which the objective was to define an optimization process for the blade’s internal cooling system.
“All pilot projects were completed at the end of January 2011 with excellent results,” says Santucci. “Then we moved on to the actual production phase, connecting the working environment to the rest of the company and the other Teamcenter modules. After the initial focus on engineering, development and manufacturing, we added the idea and concept engineering upstream, and in the next two years we will expand downstream, implementing maintenance and service in order to close the loop and get direct feedback from the field, so that we can improve the product concept and engineering activities.”
Approximately 20 people were involved in the pilot projects, which received high marks from customers.
“Accurate preparation was necessary to develop a knowledge management culture internally,” says Macciò. “Apart from the selected tools and before undertaking any information technology (IT) deployment process, we had to define a formal structure for the entire corporate knowledge structure. We classified our know-how in documents called Design Practices, which are now stored in a secured folder inside Teamcenter, accessible to all authorized users in a tracked and monitored mode.”
There were three major benefits realized by AEN’s Development Engineering through the Collaborative Engineering project built with Teamcenter. First, AEN was better able to share corporate know-how, a key factor for an organization that is constantly growing and an essential condition to release optimized new products within narrow timeframes.
Second, AEN realized superior data generation, management and traceability. Santucci explains, “The ability to collect analysis data and reports from our operations delivers clear benefits in terms of cycle time and data reliability, as you can re-use previously implemented processes to achieve documented and reliable results.”
Third, the standardization and optimization of design processes, which are official, shared and identical for everyone, resulted in a significant reduction in processing and computing time for all users.
Today, there are 1,300 Teamcenter users at AEN. Two hundred people also use Siemens Digital Industries Software’s NX™ software. According to management, those numbers are sure to grow, with significant cost, time and quality gains anticipated.