While Industry 4.0 is gathering momentum, it is important for companies to understand how they can go about adopting and implementing the right technologies, so that they can produce viable execution plans that can help them embark on this Industry 4.0 journey. One of the key area is to understand on how to achieve an integrated product lifecycle. An integrated product lifecycle is about how people, processes and systems is integrated along the entire product lifecycle. These include upstream processes like design and development to downstream processes like fabrication and manufacturing. With an integrated product lifecycle, it brings tangible benefits and impact to companies that include shortening of product development cycles, achieving lower cost, better quality and reliable product and as well as setting up to comply to regulation that is needed for certain market adoption and penetration.
Leveraging on Singapore Industry Smart Readiness Index (SIRI) by EDB on, “Integrated Product Lifecycle” dimension as a standard benchmark and measurement, ATE proposes the following 4 key strategies to help companies achieve an integrated product lifecycle.
- Integrated Product Design Strategy
- Simulation Driven Design Strategy
- Model Based Enterprise Strategy
- Digitalization Engineering Strategy
Let us now examine the strategic value of each of these strategies and how its impact on achieving an integrated product lifecycle.
Integrated Product Design Strategy
With systems getting more complex each day and powered by IOT, it is important that product teams will have the ability to provide timely response to customer and market demand needs. As a result, it is important to have a certain level of integration whereby it create a common view of product design data between mechanical and electrical teams. An integrated design data will prevent conflicting results arises from different systems. And this can lead to improve communication that in turn translate to lesser mistake and rework downstream.
With that, ATE proposes SOLIDWORKS empowered solution: The Connected Design.
In a connected design, SOLIDWORKS mechanical 3D CAD is connected to SOLIDWORKS electrical and SOLIDWORKS PCB. From electrical system design perspective, it can achieve a full complete 3D integration whereby 2D schematics is linked to 2D panel layout which in turn is linked up with 3D mechanical system model in 3D CAD. It is a full immersion process starting from schematic, to unified BOM to automated cable and wire routing that takes place in completely integrated 3D design environment.
The impact of this strategy is tremendous as it raises design teams’ productivity, improve communication, less mistake downstream as well as shortening product development time to market.
Simulation Driven Design Strategy
In introducing new product to the market, one of the key challenges face by product teams include detecting design problem late. Late detection only to serve to allow design solution to at best work within constraints and very often, this result in expensive design change outcome. Hence, it is important to integrate Simulation Driven Design Strategy in product lifecycle. With this strategy, it equips product team with the ability to have better insight into product behaviour and this in turn can lead to lower design changes and as well as optimizing for better product innovation.
A simulation driven design workflow will look something like this:
This workflow is iterative in itself until design matures. SOLIDWORKS simulation technologies support most of the simulation technologies in the market. These include, thermal analysis, cooling analysis, fatigue analysis, kinematic analysis as well as optimization technologies that cover for material or weight optimization.
To summarize SOLIDWORKS simulation domain area, they include finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamic analysis (CFD) and in the area of designing for manufacturing, SOLIDWORKS plastic simulation can be applied for plastic injection mold flow analysis.
The impact of this strategy include shortening of validation cycles, reduction of material cost and enabling the creation of better innovated product.
Model Based Enterprise Strategy
In an integrated product lifecycle, it is important that processes are well connected from upstream to downstream. Hence, it is important to have common design data that can be streamline for downstream manufacturing processes as well. With this, ATE proposes to adopt Model Based Enterprise (MBE) Strategy.
MBE Strategy is defined as an annotated digital 3D model of a product that serves as the authoritative information source for all downstream digital threads of the product lifecycle. These are the following digital threads that can be considered for downstream processes:
1. Paperless manufacturing
2. Design to CAM machining workflow
3. Design to quality inspection workflow
4. Design to manual and instruction creation workflow
5. Design to product catalogue creation workflow
SOLIDWORKS technologies are well covered to support all these digital threads. In paperless manufacturing, SOLIDWORKS MBD (model based definition) allows the creation PMI (product manufacturing information) information directly on 3D model. With MBD, it saves the product team from maintaining 2D legacy drawing which in turn save plenty of time. With MBD, it allows the communication to be only in 3D downstream, thus reducing the risk for miscommunication otherwise that is more inherent in a typical 2D drawing scenario.
In Design to CAM machining workflow, the 3D model data is well integrated into SOLIDWORKS CAM environment whereby it allows the generation of toolpath cutting strategies. Any design changes on the part can seamlessly reflected the change in the tool path cutting strategies as well.
For Quality process, 3D design data can be used to repurpose for Inspection report creation. This include creation of dimensioning balloons and first article inspection (FAI) report. SOLIDWORKS Inspection effectively streamlines design to quality process digital thread.
Another key initiative in repurposing of design data is the integration into SOLIDWORKS Composer. Very often, the creation of technical documentation like manuals or instructions is very administrative in the organisation. The use of SOLIDWORKS Composer allows the direct integration of design data to create compelling professional instructions, manuals and product story boards.
Lastly, with SOLIDWORKS Visualize, design data can be directly render to produce professional grade photo images that can be used in product catalogue
The advantage of adopting MBE strategy is apparent as it streamlines the design to manufacturing creating a single integrated design data throughout the product lifecycle. This leads to improve communication, increase productivity and higher engineering throughput.
Digitalized Engineering Strategy
For certain market adoption and penetration, there is a need for company to comply with certain regulation. Thus, it is important for us to understand how do we use and control data within the engineering organisation. Moreover, in moving towards Industry 4.0, there will be a tremendous growth of 3D and engineering data. Hence, a plan is needed to manage these engineering data as well.
ATE proposes Digitalized Engineering strategy where it covers the following elements:
- Data Security and control
- Ability to trace audit trails
- Change management
- Approval process and electronic signature
This strategy ensure engineering organisation create an integrated digital engineering information backbone that allow the controlled sharing of engineering data across functional teams, ability to reuse and repurpose data as per functional team needs as well as practicing good management of data compliance such as version and revision control, audit trails and allowing granular security access. This strategy is powered by SOLIDWORKS PDM where it organizes, control and find all important engineering information. It also allow sharing with downstream departments such as purchasing, manufacturing, quality assurance.
The proposed 4 Strategies above is key in achieving an integrated product lifecycle. It focus on integration of key design processes, providing intelligence insights for product teams, streamlining of design to manufacturing and also how-to to control, use and manage data compliance. Not only is the use of these strategies will improve the communication between teams, it also allows the creation of concurrent engineering processes that can greatly influence the shortening of product development cycle.