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Previously, Alignex Mechanical Division separated their Blog postings into Technical and Marketing related content.  The articles in this section are legacy Marketing articles that still hold some value.  But since the Spring of 2010, all Mechanical Blog articles have been posted to a single Blog for Alignex.

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More SolidWorks used on the Discovery Channel by Mike Bailey

  
  

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned how much of a fan I am of The Learning Channel family of networks, especially, the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. I also mentioned that a new program, Invent This! gave SolidWorks a plug as a tool they use regularly. You can read that blog post here.

Now, a second Discovery Channel show has made a SolidWorks mention. This season on Mythbusters, in an Episode titled "Seesaw Saga", they needed to create a rig that could withstand a great deal of force transfer and couldn't rely on trial and error to get it right. They also didn't want to have to "overbuild" the rid which would waste a lot of time and materials. Their solution, use SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation to create a design and test it virtually to make sure it would work before creating the prototype.

Let me setup the scene for you. They myth they were testing was an internet rumor that a skydiver who's parachute had failed was trying to find a "soft" place to land. He spotted a girl sitting alone on a seesaw and steered himself for the opposite end hoping her weight would cushion his fall. The myth goes that he launched her straight up 7 stories to the top of a nearby building where she landed unharmed.

The Mythbuster's task was to test to see if the launch height could be achieved with that much force exerted as well as whether the action was fatal to the girl or the skydiver. Their rig was to hoist a weight equal to that of a person at the end of a massive bungie cord and stretch it so that the weight would be fired back at the ground at the same speed and force at the terminal velocity of a free-falling skydiver. The other major challenge was to create a teeter-totter that would be sure to transfer all of the energy from that impact to the crash-dummy little girl stimulant at the other end without failing by getting crushed in the impact.

This first clip is the SolidWorks mention within the show.


The actual test clips can be seen with the link below on the Discovery Channel Website.  There are some pretty impressive angles to the experiment. I highly recommend watching as many as you can.

http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-seesaw-saga/

Anyway, a big Thank You to Mythbusters for their mention of SolidWorks. Keep up the great work and thanks for making such an entertaining, yet educational show. I know they are friends of the company since their appearance at SolidWorks World a few years ago. (Also viewable on YouTube, but I'll let you search for those clips yourself.) Now, my 5 year old son watches with me. Who knows, maybe one day he'll be the one engineering parts and assemblies and making his retired Marketing Manager of a dad proud.



Alignex is presenting a “Collaborative Engineering Interactive Theater” at various locations throughout the Upper Midwest this Spring by Mike Bailey

  
  

Every manufacturer has developed, or more likely, "fallen into" a method for managing their manufacturing process as projects move from concept and design to manufacturing and documentation. While individual software components that make up this process may be evaluated and changed like CAD tools, Validation Software, Data Management, CAM software, or Technical Publications tools; rarely is the entire engineering process analyzed for possible improvements. To that end, Alignex has developed their vision for Collaborative Engineering and will be presenting this vision in an "Interactive Theater" format at live events this spring. Locations for these Theater events include Edina, Brainerd, Fargo, Sioux City and Cedar Falls, Iowa and in Eau Claire Wisconsin from mid April to early June.

To accomplish their goals, Alignex turned to one of their best customers, Vermeer Corporation, manufacturer of large industrial equipment, as inspiration. Alignex wanted to use a real life example of this process, including using actual customer data in their presentation. For this showcase, they chose Vermeer's HG8000 Horizontal Grinder (shown below). With a complex design and 5000 component parts, it provided a great example of a product requiring a great deal of collaboration to produce.Vermeer Horizontal Grinder

Specifically for the "Collaborative Engineering Interactive Theater", the Engineering team at Alignex developed a scenario whereby a significant component of the suspension system needed to be redesigned because the outsourced manufacturer of that component is going out of business. With production orders still coming and replacement part orders expected, Vermeer wanted to look at the viability of bringing the manufacturing of that component in-house. The Alignex Engineering Theater will present all of the steps that this Engineering Change Order (ECO) takes throughout the engineering process as well as the roles involved to make it all happen quickly and efficiently.

"From a Project Management standpoint, it is important to move the process along, while ensuring all of the necessary steps are taken and documented," Mack Rasmussen, Application Support Manager for Alignex said. "In addition, if you are going to re-create an existing part, why not try to improve it by making it lighter and able to withstand more punishment in the field. It is also important to develop field replacement documentation for service personnel that will have to install the new component. That is what we will incorporate into a single presentation, the engineering process from concept to implementation."

There will be many defined roles at play in this event, just like there are many roles involved in a process like this. The process begins with a Project Manager defining the process and assigning the tasks. From there, a Designer takes the existing design from a legacy system and begins converting it for use in an up to date CAD system. Next, the design is run past a Mechanical Engineer for Design Validation testing prior to prototyping. In between, design files move back and forth through various approvals and revisions, all of which are managed by a Product Data Management system. Moving on, the final design files are brought to a Manufacturing Engineer to produce the machining instructions needed for part production. Lastly, the technical publications for the updated manuals as well as the field replacement instructions need to be created before the new part can go into service. This entire process will be presented in a half-day, fast-paced presentation.

"In product development, speed and precision are imperative for success. In this economic market, tools that can provide these improvements need to be seriously considered and implemented quickly," said Al Switzer, Mechanical Sales Director at Alignex. "We wanted to get beyond the tools and the technology and focus on the engineering process and how the various roles that come into play are managed and interact."

The Alignex Collaborative Engineering Interactive Theater is open to anyone interested, provided they register in advance. More information can be found on the Alignex website or by following this link.

About Vermeer
Vermeer is a leading agricultural, construction, environmental and industrial equipment manufacturing company. Since its inception, Vermeer Corporation has grown from a one-person Iowa operation, to an international organization that manufactures agricultural, construction, environmental, and industrial equipment. Vermeer corporate offices and manufacturing facilities are located in Pella, Iowa, U.S.A., and have 150 dealerships located worldwide.


“Green Friendly” White House Playground Set was designed in SolidWorks by Rainbow Play Systems of South Dakota by Mike Bailey

  
  

White House Castle

Rainbow Play Systems playground set installed on White House lawn. March 4th, 2009

First daughters Malia and Sasha Obama got a big surprise after school on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009: a brand-new swing set from Rainbow Play Systems, a Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. and Alignex, Inc. customer.

The "Green Friendly" set, which Rainbow Play Systems have dubbed, "Malia & Sasha's Castle includes features for both active and passive play, including a "penthouse" with a double bubble, overhead monkey bars, shimmy bars, four standard swings, a race car tire swing, rock wall, step chain ladder, slide, binoculars, periscopes and chalkboard. The design of the set was reversed from the standard design model so that the "double bubble" faces the Oval Office, where President Obama can keep an eye on his daughters at play.

The design for the "Rainbow Castle" branded system was accomplished utilizing SolidWorks 3D Mechanical Design (CAD) software. This industry leading manufacturing software is unrivaled in power and ease of use and allowed the designers the flexibility to develop multiple configurations of parts and subsystems that makes customizing the final design layout a simple process. "SolidWorks helps us provide the customer with the exact play system they are looking for," said Jon Mattson, Product Design Manager for Rainbow Play Systems.
The 100 percent North American Cedar and Redwood structure was an important selling point due to President Obama's drive to promote green energy. Rainbow Play Systems markets these materials as an "environmentally responsible choice". Original Rainbow Play Systems contain only "Certified" lumber from 3rd party inspected mills that comply with all Local, State, and Federal harvesting regulations.

A factory crew from the Brookings plant installed the play set along with a "Presidential" picnic table. The massive wooden table sits near the swing set and features brass plates etched with the names of all 44 presidents.
A plaque on the play system reads:

Castle Plaque

Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, were said to have greeted the swing set with "squeals of joy", according to White House staff. The girls played on the set for almost an hour in chilly weather that afternoon. Their mother went for a swing, too.

About Rainbow Play Systems
Rainbow Play Systems has grown from a small custom job shop in Minnesota to a high-tech manufacturing facility on 130 acres in the heartland of America-Beautiful Brookings, South Dakota. While the scale of our operation has changed over the last 24 years, our focus has not. We continue to pride ourselves on manufacturing the safest, most durable and highest-quality play systems available in America.

About Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp., a Dassault Systèmes S.A. subsidiary, is a world leader in 3D solutions. The company develops and markets software for design, analysis, product data management, and documentation.  It is the leading supplier of 3D CAD technology, giving teams intuitive, high-performing software that helps them design better products. For the latest news, information, or an online demonstration, visit the company's Web site (www.solidworks.com) or call 1-800-693-9000 (outside of North America, call +1-978-371-5000).

About Alignex, Inc.
Alignex is an Engineering technology company that assists their customers in improving their manufacturing process, whether through software solutions or engineering services. Serving Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and western areas of Wisconsin and Illinois, Alignex has been the premier SolidWorks Reseller in the Upper Midwest for 11 years and in business as an engineering technology provider for nearly 20 years. Alignex has helped over 1000 companies make the transition to SolidWorks from a wide variety of 2D and 3D CAD formats.


Alignex, Inc recognized by SolidWorks for their efforts 2008 by Mike Bailey

  
  

Upper Midwest SolidWorks reseller Alignex, Inc. was acknowledged multiple times for their wide ranging efforts in 2008 at the SolidWorks World User Conference in Orlando, Florida from February 8-11, 2009. The International User Conference & Exposition is the largest annual worldwide 3D CAD event and allows SolidWorks Users, Resellers and Employees to gather, learn, share and celebrate SolidWorks' industry leading family of products and those that bring about its success. These awards included SolidWorks Presidents Club, Elite 190 Club, SolidWorks User Group Network Reseller of the Year and Top SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Reseller for North America.  Please read on for more information on these awards.

Alignex was honored with the Presidents Club award for a fifth consecutive year, given for exceeding SolidWorks performance expectations across all of their product lines. Along with strong sales in SolidWorks Simulation, 3DVIA Composer and astonishing success with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, Alignex continued to grow the installation base of SolidWorks 3D Design Software, the centerpiece of the SolidWorks family of Products. "In the economic climate we're faced with, it is satisfying to continue to surpass the expectations placed on us." said Steve Keinath, Alignex owner and award recipient. "This will continue to drive us to keep our streak going in 2009." Paul Oliver, Midwest Regional Sales Manager for SolidWorks added, "Alignex achieved the SolidWorks President's Club award because of their commitment to helping their customers get every ounce of efficiency out of their engineering processes. Alignex grew their Simulation & Data Management business by large double digit amounts in 2008 by focusing their efforts where their customer's needed them most."

In addition to the Presidents Club award streak, Alignex also received the prestigious Elite 190 Club award for the third consecutive year by exceeding the highest standards for customer retention, subscription renewals, and software subscription sales for new licensees of SolidWorks. Alignex was one of only three SolidWorks resellers in North America to receive this distinction for 2008. "It is a testament to the consistency and dedication that our Application Engineers have for our customers and the SolidWorks products we support," said Mack Rasmussen, Alignex Director of Technical Support. "We are pleased that our customers continue to value the software updates from SolidWorks as well the support that is provided by Alignex.

SolidWorks customers also played a major part in another award presented to Alignex. This one did not come from SolidWorks corporate; instead it came from the independent SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN). For 2008, Alignex was named the SolidWorks User Group Network Reseller of the Year. The award is presented annually to the SolidWorks reseller organization that demonstrates the highest level of support for user groups. Resellers are nominated by user group leaders from around the world, and based on those nominations; the winner is selected by the vote of the SWUGN Committee. "Alignex has consistently provided outstanding service for our sales and technical needs. We have had sales consultants take the time to help out with technical issues, even those outside their scope of expertise. Alignex always follows through with ensuring customer satisfaction. In addition, as leader of the Twin Cities Simulation User Group, I can always count on Alignex to step up and provide excellent technical presentations for our meetings," said Anne Yust, Exlar Corporation. Richard Doyle, User Community Manager from SolidWorks added, "Congratulations and thanks to Alignex for your outstanding support of SolidWorks User Groups."

Beyond supporting SolidWorks User Groups, the Application Engineer team at Alignex was very busy in 2008 implementing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (Product Data Management) at customer locations around the world. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software simplifies the process of managing product design changes for distributed design teams. Alignex has had a great deal of success with the product and for their efforts in 2008, Alignex was regognized as the Top Reseller for SolidWorks Enterprise PDM for North America. "Data Management is a solution we pride ourselves on at Alignex, we've been implementing Data Management in various forms for over 15 years. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is a great product with unprecedented ease of use and a proven, quick Return on Investment (ROI)" said Eric Keinath, Consulting Services Manager at Alignex. "We hope to leverage this success by creating even more opportunity for Alignex and Enterprise PDM in 2009 and beyond." Chris Cleary, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Business Development Manager for North America added, "We are thrilled at the effectiveness and efficiency with which Alignex has incorporated E/PDM into their product mix. Alignex has set the standard for successful in-house implementations of Data Management and has developed new methods for data migration as well as systems integration to and from a wide range of ERP systems."

Despite a challenging economy, Alignex has continued to find success, emerging as the Top SolidWorks Reseller in the Central Plains region for 2008. Alignex looks to continue their ongoing success by helping manufacturing companies improve the way they bring products to market and demonstrate significant return on their engineering technology investment with improved productivity, reduced materials costs and developing innovative designs faster.


3D Solid Modeling – “The Aftereffect” by Al Switzer

  
  

For more than 20 years, industry experts, technologists, CAD dealers and visionaries have been touting the advantages of 3D design and manufacturing. As 3D tools have become friendlier to operate, able to run on practically any respectable computer and cost a fraction of what first-generation solid modelers demanded, it would seem obvious that companies abandon their 2D security blankets and upgrade to 3D CAD. However a surprising number of companies that design and/or manufacture products have not yet made the leap to 3D - and most of them have very legitimate reasons. We, at Alignex, still hear regularly, "our products are so simple, there's no benefit in bothering with 3D" or, "we tried 3D and most of the things we do here are still faster in 2D".

Truth be told, there are a lot of design tasks that can be done faster in 2D than in even the most state-of-the-art, industry-leading 3D CAD systems. Surprised? Don't be. Imagine a simple part that needs to be stretched, holes moved or re-sized and then printed out. 2D will win this contest every time.

So, why should an organization that has not yet justified the move to 3D at this point consider it more strongly now? Aside from the intrinsic benefits of 3D solid modeling (improved visualization, being able to ensure things fit together right the first time, etc), there is an "Aftereffect" of 3D that is less talked about or even completely ignored because the spotlight is usually focused solely on parts modeling, assemblies and drawing creation. And the more simplistic a company's product(s), the more likely it's the Aftereffect that will drive them to 3D.

Not to be left out of my message, those that have made the switch to 3D and are satisfied with the reduction in scrap and re-work, things fitting together right the first time, modernizing the aesthetics of your products and designing new products faster, congratulations and all; but you've really done yourselves a disservice by not leveraging The Aftereffect.

So what is "The Aftereffect"? It's a phrase that we here at Alignex have coined to explain the opportunities for improved product development that can only occur after implementing a 3D design tool.

Examples:

  • Utilizing an integrated CAM System and developing tool path directly from the 3D data.
  • Design Validation to simulate the behavior of product designs without physical prototypes, over-designing or risking warranty issues.
  • Implementing Engineering Automation tools for "same-as-but-different" product designs where the output can be a complete B.o.M. for manufacturing/purchasing, real-time web-based visuals of the custom design in 3D, custom quoting, etc.
  • Product Documentation based on 3D data for assembly instructions, services manuals, installation guides, parts catalogs, training documents, etc.

Companies still using 2D to design their products are switching to 3D not for the traditional reasons but for productivity gains and cost reductions only attainable with The Aftereffect.

Companies that have been using 3D for years have now seen their productivity gains level off or innovation reaching a plateau. They're looking for their next boost in profitability and competitive advantage. For them, the answer lies in leveraging The Aftereffect.

Want to know more? Click on the links in the Aftereffect examples (above) or fill out this form to let Alignex know your product interest.  Alignex will be hosting a series of Webinars and Live Seminars on various Aftereffect topics in the coming months.  Watch for the events on the Alignex Seminar Page.

Al Switzer
Mechanical Sales Director
Alignex, Inc.


Re-Invest now to be ready for the economic rebound that’s to come

  
  

Major media spouts doom and gloom every night on the evening news. Large manufacturers with billions in overhead and owed pensions are struggling to develop a successful business model for the 21st Century. Meanwhile, with much less publicity, small and medium sized businesses are weathering the current economic storm quite well. In fact some are even thriving in this economy. In the December 28th Star Tribune article entitled Growing UP in a down economy, several manufacturing companies in the upper Midwest were highlighted as being at capacity and growing. What sets these companies apart? According to the article, there are three key factors:
  1. Companies thriving in the midst of a global recession tend to be innovative and offer customized, high-tech and engineering services in niche industries.
  2. "Nimble small companies can take advantage of [this economy] if they have invested previously in their own plants and equipment," said Bob Kill, CEO of Enterprise Minnesota, the quasi-government business assistance group that helps small manufacturers pare waste and raise productivity.
  3. Cliff Waldman, an economist with the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, noted that today's trendsetters often are firms that previously updated their plant equipment, streamlined production processes or worked to enhance efficiencies, delivery time and ultimately, profits.
At Alignex, we offer a number of technologies that can improve the way manufacturers go to market and manage their engineering process. First and foremost, SolidWorks 3D Design Software is recognized as an industry lead for its ease of use and productivity tools which helps engineers design better products, faster. Virtual Design Analysis like SolidWorks Simulation can reduce prototyping costs as well as materials costs by testing new designs as they are being created. Data Management Solutions like SolidWorks Enterprise PDM can provide the access and workflow for concurrent engineering, making your engineering team more efficient and allowing your organization to better re-use previous engineering in future designs. Documentation tools like 3DVIA Composer can help bring new products to market faster by utilizing 3D design data for product documentation as well as marketing materials. Design Automation tools like DriveWorks and TactonWorks helps environments where custom manufacturing yields many "same as, but different" products by allowing for variable engineering specifications to custom configure the design without having to re-engineer it each time. Finally, CAM tools like SolidCAM allow for machining instructions to be developed in the same window as the design, including the ability to update the machine code immediately after design changes are made.
The bottom line is, if you don't plan to survive this economic downturn, stay with the status quo. On the other hand, if you plan to weather this storm and want to come out stronger on the other end, now is the time to invest in your future. By investing now, you can be in a better position to accelerate your production when the economy gets back on track.

SolidWorks Design Software on the Discovery Channel by Mike Bailey

  
  

I'm a huge Discovery Channel fan. From Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs and Build it Bigger to How It's Made and Extreme Engineering, there is always something on that network related to how our world works and the people who are making it a better place. In 2005, Orange County Choppers discussed how they use SolidWorks to create and build parts for their custom bikes. They even made a SolidWorks bike (shown).
I saw that bike and the bike they made for HP at SolidWorks World last winter in San Diego and both were sights to behold and very popular with the visitors at the Product Showcase where they were displayed. They will probably both be on display again at SolidWorks World 2009 next February in Orlando, Florida. Click here for more information about how to attend.

Now, there is new show I'm excited about on Discovery Channel called, Prototype This! Each week a group of engineers takes on the task of designing and creating a machine to tackle a theme problem for the show. Last week, they added a hydraulic lifting system with Omni-directional wheels to a mid-sized truck to allow it to park itself in tight spaces and even hoist itself over another parked car when no spaces were available. (See Photo)
These guys are very ambitious and come up with really creative solutions for the problem they are attempting to solve. The reason I bring them up, if you haven't already guessed, is that they use SolidWorks for design and custom fabrication projects. They have a great video on their website that describes how SolidWorks fits into their process. (From the Link, go to the Design Room for the video on SolidWorks.) Watch the show Wednesdays at 9PM Central. This week, they attempt to make a Six-Legged All-Terrain Vehicle.

At Alignex, we're always excited to see what our customers are making with the software and support we provide. We really feel like we're contributing, in our own way, to making our world better. If you have a cool product you'd like to share with us, we would be happy to showcase it on our website and let you tell the story of how it developed and what role SolidWorks and/or Alignex helped make it happen. Contact me directly or tell your Sales or Support representatives about your interest.

Mike Bailey
Marketing Manager
Alignex, Inc.


Product Data Management (PDM) What, Why, When? by Mike Lamora

  
  

I meet with at least one or two customers a week in regards to Product Data Management. Each customer has unique goals or challenges important to them but some of the recurring topics I hear on a weekly basis include:

  • Control - engineering information is complex/difficult to manage (parent/child relations, etc)
  • Time - finding the right information quickly
  • Error elimination - reducing mfg waste, working on the latest revision
  • Enterprise connectivity - sharing of info with other business systems (ERP/MRP)
  • Collaboration - communicating info to others and concurrent engineering
  • Certification - assisting in standards to obtain/retain FDA/ISO/FAA/TQM certifications

PDM in brief
In today's business, companies generate many forms of product information from engineering documentation, CAD drawings, sales/marketing information, BOM's, technical manuals, product specifications, simulation studies, vendor information, digital photos, CAM files, etc. This intellectual property are some of the most valuable assets your business possesses.

What is PDM? Back in my early days when I was designing equipment we had a Reprographics Department. This area was a huge room in the building which contained all the master drawings in drawers that Judy was the gatekeeper of. To make a change to a drawing we needed to check out the drawing, make our changes and have Judy update the record in a hard copy book.

Today, the challenge is to maximize the time-to-market benefits of concurrent engineering while maintaining control of your data and making it accessible to the people who need it - when they need it. The way PDM systems cope with this challenge is that master data is secured in a 'vault' where its integrity can be assured and all changes to it monitored, controlled and recorded.

Reference copies of the master data, on the other hand, can be distributed freely, to users in various departments for design, analysis and approval. The new data is then released back into the vault. When a 'change' is made to data, what actually happens is that a modified copy of the data, signed and dated, is stored in the vault alongside the old data which remains in its original form as permanent record.

This is the simple principle behind more advanced PDM systems. To understand it more fully, let us look separately at how these systems control raw product data (Data Management and Process Management).

What is Data Management?
Manufacturing companies are usually good at systematically recording component and assembly drawings, but often do not keep comprehensive records of attributes such as 'size', 'weight', 'where used' etc. As a result, engineers often have problems accessing the information they need. This leaves an unfortunate gap in their ability to manage their product data effectively. Data management systems are able to manage both attribute and documentary product data, as well as relationships between them, through a relational database system.

With so much information being generated, a technique to classify this information easily and quickly needs to be established.

Classification is a fundamental capability of a PDM system. Information of similar types should be capable of being grouped together in named classes. More detailed classification would be possible by using 'attributes' to describe the essential characteristics of each component in a given class. Think of attributes as Google keyword searches you can use in your vault.

Common ways of classifying this data include: Classification of Components, Classification of Documents, and Customer
Product Structure. Having your data structured this way in a database will allow you to search by a combination of attributes. In addition, this data can be shared with external business systems such as ERP/MRP systems. (More on this later)

Who uses PDM?
In earlier years, PDM systems were expensive, complex and hard to use. Typically these systems were reserved to just the engineering staff. Today PDM is just as important as the engineering tool because many people in the company will leverage that data. Some departments include, but not limited to:

  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Quality
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Technical Publications
  • Document Control
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Project Managers
  • Vendors

Workflow Management
Today, companies have multiple workflow processes important for their day to day business. Back in the days when I had to check the drawing out of the Reprographics Department, we had to create an Engineering Change Order (ECO). An ECO for us back than was a hand written document describing the change and had multiple people on a distribution list for approvals. This also contained copies of the documents that needed to be changed and was all crammed in a nice manila folder. This folder was often "lost in translation" or importance diminished because it was a manual process and time required to complete the task.

Some PDM systems allow you to take the manual process and map it electronically. We can have documents routed through different people/departments for electronic approval and automate tasks that were once done manually. For example, checking a document back into the vault and bumping the revision can also generate a Bill of Materials to be shared with an ERP system or automatically generate a PDF.

Enterprise Integration
Most companies are utilizing some form of ERP/MRP system. Typically information generated from engineering is shared with these systems. For example, if you are not utilizing a PDM system today, chances are you have redundant tasks of someone manually typing in BOM information into downstream applications multiple times.

Often times, that person is someone in engineering who isn't the best at data entry, they'd rather be doing some nifty engineering work and it's expensive to have them spend time punching BOM data into ERP system. Most PDM systems have the capabilities to share information and automate the exchange of this data.

What are the Benefits of implementing a PDM solution?

  • Reduced Time-to-Market
  • Improved Design Productivity/Collaboration
  • Improved Design and Manufacturing Accuracy
  • Better use of Creative Team Skills
  • Data Integrity Safeguarded
  • Better Control of Projects
  • Better Management of Engineering Change
  • A Major Step Toward Total Quality Management (ISO9000, FDA, FAA, etc.)
In earlier years, PDM systems were complex and hard to use. Typically these systems were reserved to just the engineering staff. Today PDM is now mainstream and a tool just as important as the CAD tool because almost everyone in the company will utilize the information.

At Alignex, we have in-house experts to deploy a solution tailored to your business. If you would like to learn more about how PDM can benefit you, contact me for the first step in the discovery process.  Let us know how we can help your organization develop a comprehensive and easy to use Product Data Management implementation.  Fill out the form linked here to learn more.

Mike Lamora (mlam@alignex.com)

Sales Consultant

Alignex, Inc.


Innovate or Evaporate

  
  

I have been fortunate to be in the business of working with and helping various companies for nearly the last 20 years.  In the spirit of partnership, I want to start sharing info I have come across with people like you.  My goal is to have a monthly blog entry by ME that has valuable info that may interest you.  The idea is that its something quick that should not take more than minute for your review.

I recently participated in a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group on Best-in-Class performance of engineering organizations and the strategies they employ.  They published a paper titled "The Engineering Executive's Strategic Agenda - Designing for the Enterprise and the Environment".

You can read the article here: http://aberdeen.com/summary/report/benchmark/4902-RA-engineering-executive-strategic-agenda.asp

Some key takeaways I found in the article included:

Top 3 pressures executives are faced with:
  • Shrinking development schedules is the top pressure (60%)
  • Rising raw material costs (33%)
  • Decreasing product price-points (28%)
Best-in-Class Performance
Companies today fall in 3 basic tiers,  the top 20% (Best-in-Class), the middle 50% (Industry Average) and the bottom 30% (Laggard). 

The criteria was based on:
  • The percentage of their products that meet the release to manufacturing target dates
  • Customer or market requirements
  • Product cost targets
  • Engineering phase development costs
Strategies of the Best-in-Class
What are the Best-in-class doing differently?
  • Assessing product performance early
  • Capturing and redeploying engineering knowledge
  • Designing in a modular fashion
  • Developing plans to protect intellectual property
  • Deploying lean principles to their organization
Required Actions to achieve Best-in-Class performance
Organizations must:
  • Assess product performance digitally in the design phase with simulation and analysis applications
  • Correlate simulation and test results with computer aided technology applications
  • Assess product regulatory compliance, quality, serviceability, and cost with specialty applications and plug-ins
  • Create, track, and manage interfaces as well as map requirements and product capabilities down to subsystems and  subassemblies
  • Deploy Lean methodologies in the engineering organization to gain operational efficiencies
At Alignex, we have been helping companies achieve best in class performance for decades.  If you or a colleague have been tasked to make improvements in any of these areas I would welcome the opportunity for us to discuss how we can help with a free consultation and analysis of your current operations.  I look forward to discovering the possibilities!

Mike Lamora
Email: mlam@alignex.com
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