Overcoming the Barriers with Extended Enterprise

Jun 23, 2015 -- Companies globally are expanding their supply chain network to increase productivity and bring products to the market faster and that too cost-effectively. However, in reality, extended enterprises are facing problems in managing the supply chain network efficiently, affecting the product development time.

In order to be productive with the decision to involve global partners, there are several concerns or barriers that must be overcome. Failing to do so, can affect the overall efficiency of the organization and unnecessarily stretch the product development time as well as the associated costs.

For companies that take support from global suppliers, the product design information will often be in parts developed using different CAD tools available in the market such as SolidWorks, Inventor, Creo, etc. These designs are then required to be brought together on a single platform to be able to deliver complete information at the manufacturing end.

However, multi CAD environment often makes it difficult bring everything together in one place without errors. These errors occur due to different file formats the suppliers would have worked with, causing them to clash with each other due to different standards. It becomes difficult then to implement changes or assemble the parts together, affecting the development time. Rather than focusing on the manufacturing of the product, most of the time is spent on cleaning up the geometry.

In order to be capable enough to handle these challenges, manufacturers can enforce a single CAD system throughout the extended enterprise, use neutral file formats such as STEP or IGES or communicate designs only through the use of drawings. However, these methods have their own problems.

The use of single CAD system throughout is quite a conservative approach, as suppliers are selected based on their specialization and they have their own specialized tools to execute the process. Even within the organization, different CAD platforms are often required to suit specific departmental needs. While the approach of using neutral file formats such as STEP is quite useful, these files when received by the destination systems can behave as dumb geometries.

The third approach of using only 2D drawings in the communication process would cause down the line users to regenerate the geometry using the drawings, making the process even slower.

To overcome these challenges, manufacturers need to have a CAD system that visualizes the design smoothly and has the ability to manipulate the CAD data accurately even when coming from multiple CAD formats. However, in-house mechanical design engineers must track and maintain the processes effectively to make sure that the entire team inside and outside the organization are aware about the design versions.

Implementing a PLM solution can help in bringing all the data to one place, and can provide better collaboration due to easy version control monitoring. The use of PLM or PDM can bring CAD data from multiple systems together, allowing the suppliers and the manufacturer to collaborate better and speed up the design process.

About Author: Nikunj Patel is a design engineer working with Hi-Tech CADD Services - Engineering Company for the past 4 years. He loves designing specialized industrial equipments and can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming & tweaking designs. He has also worked on architectural projects taking interest in every aspect of design & analysis.

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