The industry is facing challenges: speed and flexibility are called for because customers expect more and more from their products and take high-frequency innovations for granted. This is unlikely to be achieved without an end-to-end digitisation strategy.
A strategic approach is the integration of engineering tools such as CAD and simulation systems into a central PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system. A multi-CAD PLM not only reduces a company's data silos but also helps to break down the increasing complexity of new products and bring transparency to relationships between the product characteristics and product data of different departments.
Joint product development across locations, functions and disciplines is much easier to implement when centrally controlled. It is also agile. At the same time, downstream processes can be involved earlier, which leads, among other things, to a smooth start to production because time-consuming and cost-intensive reworking is unnecessary.
The question remains as to how the data can be entered into the PLM system with as little effort as possible and whether it can be organised according to the differing requirements of the individual development disciplines.
PLM systems integrate all relevant information that arises in the course of a product life cycle. Interfaces ensure that this data finds its way into the PLM system.
Designers benefit particularly from intelligent direct integrations. With a wide range of functions, they process native engineering data on the basis of individually defined templates and automatisms and store them at a defined point in the data model. This means that they not only derive the desired objects and documents from the CAD tools but also process, combine and distribute the engineering data in a user-friendly manner for the different target groups in the value network. Examples are the pending approval process for procurement or internal or external production.
This means that ready-assembled information packets migrate from the CAD systems via the integration platform directly to the correct location in the PLM system. These intelligent integration platforms therefore free designers from time-consuming routine work.
Designers do not need to know how the PLM system works because the intelligent direct integrations are embedded as a plug-in in the navigation of the CAD tool in order to be able to access the native engineering data. In addition, users trigger all PLM functions directly from their familiar CAD environment.
This increases the acceptance of a central PLM system, which is the only system capable of the integrated management of mechatronic products or assemblies and of the interdisciplinary control of engineering workflows. This eliminates the need for a manual, error-prone exchange of information via Excel or email.
With each additional tool integrated into the PLM, innovative and therefore competitive strength increases, for example through the following automatisms:
Opening and check-in of projects
The innovation process should be fast, flexible and cost-effective. The short time-to-market expected by the market makes virtual prototyping more relevant. For more transparency in the development history and for the consistent development of the digital thread, the product data in the PLM system can be linked to the simulation results.
The simulation is started via a plug-in in the EDM system. This is connected to the simulation tool to manage the extensive analysis results. A plug-in in the navigation of the EDM system also automatically establishes a connection to the PLM system in order to link simulation results to the corresponding project.
For the user, the integration simplifies and shortens a complex and time-consuming process and contributes to the development of the digital thread.
Even if the various engineering disciplines manage their data in a mechatronic data model, the individual teams can structure their data according to their way of working and individually control their workflows, for example:
Short project lead times due to parallelised production processes in electrical engineering
If the work preparation tasks are completed in parallel or if individual tasks are assigned externally, the ECAD integration stores the corresponding evaluations for assembly and production separately and generates corresponding neutral formats, such as:
Required production data for different suppliers
Regardless of whether the printed circuit boards are produced internally or externally, wholly or in part, production often specifies the structure, format and, in some cases, the naming convention for the data. It helps to optimise the manufacturing process, especially with multi-layer printed circuit boards.
Intelligent direct integrations generate the production data differently, according to the specifications of each supplier. This means that they generate the following packages fully automatically:
Numerous processes can be digitised via the automation of intelligent integration solutions. A centralised multi-CAD product lifecycle management system offers tremendous potential for building a highly efficient value network. The goal: end-to-end processes that provide all departments with automated engineering data. Because time is money.