CAD Automation App Reduces Quoting Time by 30%

September 19, 2012 - Metalsa engineers previously spent an average of 32 hours per month quoting a typical three programs for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This time was spent opening CAD files, obtaining information and a snapshot, and populating a spreadsheet with the data. Metalsa worked with CCE ( http://www.cadcam-e.com/) to develop an app using CCE’s EnSuite product that opens the CATIA files, captures the needed information and populates the spreadsheets. The new app saves Metalsa 30 hours per month, reduces lead-time required to produce a quote by two days and does not lock up an expensive CATIA license to extract information for quoting purposes.

Metalsa is a subsidiary of Grupo Proeza, a global tier one automotive supplier with 8,000 employees. Metalsa manufactures structural components for the light and commercial vehicle markets. Products include chassis frames, suspension modules, engine cradles, body structures, safety components and fuel tanks for passenger cars, trucks, and utility vehicles as well as customized side rails, cross members and frame assemblies for heavy trucks and buses.

A substantial portion of the company’s quoting process involves obtaining information from CATIA V5 CAD part files provided by automotive OEM customers and entering it into spreadsheets used for quoting. In the past, this task was performed by engineers because they had access to CATIA V5 and know how to use the software. The programs almost always involved multiple part files. The engineer opened up each file and obtained information including the part number, thickness of the part, etc. The engineer then looked up the volume of the part and calculated its weight based on the density of the material used. Finally, the engineer oriented the part in an appropriate view, created a bounding box, took a snapshot, exported the snapshot and imported it into the Excel file as a thumbnail illustration of the part. This process had to be repeated for each part file.

Quoting distracted engineers from other higher value added tasks and the need to get engineers involved delayed each quote by an average of two days. In an effort to streamline the quoting process, Metalsa managers talked to CCE, developer of the EnSuite design automation framework that enables the creation of apps to automate routine design tasks. CCE engineers developed an app that automates the tasks previously performed by the engineers and can be used by an estimator because it does not require a license for CATIA nor knowing how to use CATIA.

The estimator now runs the app inside EnSuite, which opens up a window to select all of the CATIA files involved in the program. The script also works with other CAD formats so Metalsa can also use it even with customers that do not use CATIA. The script automatically extracts the information from each part file, creates a separate Excel worksheet for each file and puts the information from each file into the appropriate worksheet. The app is interactive and asks the estimator for needed information such as the density of the part and to orient the part in the right view for a snapshot.

The script enables an estimator to enter all of the needed information for all programs quoted in a month in less than 2 hours, saving 30 hours per month. The savings will be significantly higher as Metalsa quotes more programs. The leadtime for the quotation process has also been reduced by two days. Highly skilled engineers have been freed up for more critical tasks. Besides quoting, Metalsa also uses EnSuite’s multi-CAD features to view data from multiple CAD systems and translate native CATIA data to other CAD formats as required.

For more information, contact CCE at +1-248-932-5295 or email sales@cadcam-e.com. Visit CCE’s Web site at http://www.cadcam-e.com/.

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