Siemens PLM Is Realizing 100% Digitalized Manufacturing6 Jun, 2018 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson
Acquisitions, key updates to core tools such as NX and Solid Edge, and developments in simulation, additive manufacturing, and more support a fully integrated, automated process.
French carmaker Bugatti recently proved the transformative powers of the Siemens PLM Digital Innovation Platform. In the effort to reduce weight and increase performance of the Chiron, a key challenge was how to keep the lighter vehicle on the ground as it reached speeds greater than 400 mph, given that physical wind-tunnel testing maxes out at 186 mph. Siemens’ STAR-CCM+ was able to analyze the vehicle digital twin operating at extreme speeds under extreme conditions.
Bugatti brought in 3D printing to manufacture real production parts in titanium. Traditional 3D printing would have required manually preparing the model for 3D printing, then “printing it and seeing what happens,” said Paul Brown, senior marketing director, NX Product Engineering Software. Now, based on the fully integrated Digital Innovation Platform, “we can digitally see how a design will perform in 3D printing, so it increases our confidence in what the result will be.” Problems can be addressed before manufacturing, saving time and materials.
“We have to move additive manufacturing into an industrial process, whether the lot size is one or multiple,” Brown continued. The company is striving to enable users to design a part digitally that can be successfully manufactured — not just prototyped, and without requiring any data conversion or other methods that reduce data integrity or design performance — all within its NX design software. And “if we want to industrialize this process and use it at scale, we must automate it,” Brown added. Siemens has the experience to do this, the technology to enable it — and, thanks to other arms of the giant company, even the machines to operate it.
All told, Bugatti achieved ten-fold faster development for the Chiron, cut assembly weight by 50%, and reduced vehicle drag through full implementation of a digitalized platform.
Another customer, Phoenix Contact, designs and manufactures all its products for electrical engineering and automation in-house. Based in Germany, Phoenix turned to Siemens PLM to improve production for its printed circuit boards (PCBs).
Validation during PCB production was critical to ensure fast turnaround, especially given that production quantities could be as low as one unit. Siemens helped the company develop a fully digitalized flow from design to manufacturing, including a digital twin of the production process. The new plug-and-play solution eliminates a manual process that was previously required to prepare design data for manufacturing, automates collection of data to validate quality, and delivers KPI data for any site, line, or machine to anyone who needs it.
Solutions for SMBs
Should you begin to think that Siemens PLM solutions support only to the automotive market — or aerospace, or other high-tech, mega-budget applications, the company would set you straight: Customers span all markets and all company sizes, including startups. Its Solid Edge product development portfolio is described as the entry point for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to the Digital Innovation Platform; it is priced “effectively” for smaller companies and offered free to startups. The rapid-start program for Teamcenter, the Siemens product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, includes an option designed specifically for SMBs.
According to the company, these efforts aim to provide SMBs with the latest design, simulation, and collaboration tools to increase productivity, packed for easy access and with the industry’s most flexible licensing terms. “Everything we do does relate to SMBs — Solid Edge and NX, everything,” said CEO Hemmelgarn. SMBs and startups really are tackling digital transformation: “It’s helping them compete against larger companies. ... We’re very proud to play a role in the business of startup companies.”
Fully Integrated, Yet Open
For all its potential value as a full-fledged integrated solution, the Digital Innovation Platform is not a closed one. During a Q&A session with company executives, Hemmelgarn reminded media attendees that Siemens PLM will always be open. “You can do more if you use our full offerings, but we work with others’. ... Where things are headed, I think, will be less about what the authoring design system looks like. The future will rely on combinations of tools. We don’t care where the data comes from; we’ll work with it and use it to figure out how to help you.”
Manufacturing is a constantly evolving discipline, driven by change that can come in many forms — from natural iteration to disruptive innovation. That’s an obvious conclusion if you’re looking at, say, automotive manufacturing. But what about manufacturing shirts, or envelopes, or printed circuit boards? At the Siemens PLM Connection user conference this week, company executives suggested that if your entire product development and manufacturing process isn’t digital, you’re in a position to change.
How does a company transition from a mostly manual manufacturing process to a digital one? The key lies in creating a blueprint that identifies areas for improvement and the processes to automate them — then determining how to continually improve. Evolving to a fully digitalized development process can streamline operations, save money, and even take design to a new level, helping to ensure long-term success.
Editor’s note: Watch for the second half of this Siemens PLM Connection report, which will cover the latest updates to Siemens PLM’s Solid Edge and NX product development solutions.