A&D focus: automotive industry  |   Article

Manufacturing innovation

PLM or product lifecycle management, is an essential element in effectively creating and utilising global innovation networks

The vision to enable a world where organisations and their partners collaborate, develop and deliver world-class products and services, allowing them to deal swiftly with emerging risks and opportunities, is based on the creation of global innovation networks.

P LM is a powerful value proposition helping companies transform their process of innovation in order to deliver products to market in shorter time period, reduce manufacturing costs, increase the number of successful product introductions and continue increase margins annually.

Automotive OEM

This technology supports the automotive OEM industry with an open and modular suite of solutions for all aspects of the OEM’s manufacturing operations and information. These solutions address the design and execution of body-in-white, assembly, machining, paint and quality processes within the OEM enterprise and across the OEM’s network of suppliers. Global competition is the strongest it’s ever been, driving automotive OEMs to provide wider, high quality, content rich product ranges, without increasing price points. Over-capacity and increasing costs have forced automotive manufacturers to begin creating common and flexible manufacturing systems. Rapidly designing, reusing and validating manufacturing processes before implementing has proven critical to automotive OEM success. Engineering industry expertise and software solutions enable automotive manufacturers plan, develop, manufacture and launch innovative vehicles, profitably, by addressing elements critical to success.

Automotive powertrain

Solutions for automotive powertrain applications improve competitiveness by reducing preplanning time from as much as 4 weeks to as little as 1 week, line design time from 12 to as few as 9 months, ramp-up time by about 13 per cent, and increasing throughput by up to 30 per cent, reusability by as much as 15 per cent and quality of output by up to 15 per cent.

Planning a machining line

These solutions enable plan a complete powertrain line while considering all available and existing machine and line components. Using 3D CAD data, the system automatically defines the part’s machining features and their hierarchy. Manual definition of features is also possible in the absence of 3D data. The system automatically selects suitable operations and tools from the system’s library of knowledge and best practice operations.

Standard solutions for automotive powertrain generate cost estimates of selected operations, considering the machining time, cutting tools and cost of material removed. Line proposals and their performance, including machining line throughput, resource utilisation, work-in-progress, buffer utilisation and bottlenecks can be compared and analysed.

Engineering and optimising

Solutions for automotive powertrain also allow designing efficient and balanced machining lines by allocating operations according to machine specifications. The software generates NC tool paths and calculates machining cycle times for each set of features and their operations. Running a 3D simulation of the NC path helps detect collisions between the part and the machine or fixtures analyse material removal and optimise cycle times. The optimised program can then be automatically downloaded to machines in NC program format (G-code). The system generates discrete-event simulation models, providing a dynamic perspective of the balanced production line.

Body-paint and assembly

Automotive body-in-white solutions enhance competitiveness by accelerating project time by as much as 25 per cent, reducing project investment by 5 per cent or more, shortening ramp-up time by up to10 per cent, increasing throughput as much as 10 per cent, cutting engineering change orders (ECOs) by as much as 20 per cent and reducing tooling and related cost by up to 10 per cent.

Planning a body-in-white process

Automotive body-in-white environment facilitates multi-user and multi-site planning and engineering, and enables create hierarchical representations of body-in-white manufacturing processes which make up the bill of process (BOP). The BOP captures process logic and flow, and defines the relationships between operations, manufacturing resources and product parts. With such tools as standard robots, fixtures and welding or painting guns from the system’s libraries, you can quickly plan a spot-welding or painting layout in a 2D sketching environment. Process planners can define welding points and allocate them to welding operations.

Designing to off-line programming

Engineering applications for automotive body-in-white engineering applications enable detailed design of robotic and manual operations in a spot-welding line and cell. Guns are automatically selected from the system’s libraries, and verified using the sections feature, which lets view the gun’s fit and reach from all angles. 3D simulations of the generated robot paths let detect collisions, check reachability and optimise cycle time. Discrete-event process simulation allows analysis of line performance, including throughput, resource utilisation, bottleneck detection and buffer sizes. Solutions for automotive body-in-white automatically generates robot and programmable logic control (PLC) programs (off-line programming), as well as work instructions for shop-floor workers and suppliers.

Plant design & optimisation

Producing and selling more units does not necessarily lead to more profit. If plant layout and material flow is not optimised, building more products forces to spend more money to get the output. Even as revenues go up, profits can actually go down. Good product design certainly improves revenues, but the factory determines how much of that revenue will become profit.

Digitally operated plant design and optimisation enables the modeling and simulation of production systems and processes to ensure, in advance of the start of production, that they operate at peak efficiency. By enabling engineers to see the outcome of plans in virtual plants, organisations avoid wasting resources fixing problems in real plants.

This article is an authorised reprint from AIA Newsletter, Issue 11. For more articles, related to the automotive industry, visit AIA publications section at

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