Industrial Manufacturing Has Reason For Optimism According To Report

The full Manufacturing Barometer report is available at

Optimism in manufacturing is enjoying a nice upward ride right now, at least in the minds of those interviewed for this report. The full report illustrates a number of interview results by way of graphs and trendline charts, which give a quick and clear picture to the statistics gathered during the interviewing. Although manufacturing companies were not the exclusive source of the information presented in the report, that business sector is what we will focus on here. The demographics of the manufacturing companies interviewed are impressive - average number of employees is 10,433; average revenues are $2.90 billion; and average 5-year growth is 24%. Interestingly, the report shows that manufacturers are planning on adding the most new employees in the areas of production workers (34%) and professionals/technicians (23%). The percentage of companies interviewed planning to reduce these job categories are 2% and 4%, respectively. The increase in production workers is somewhat surprising based on all the news we hear about production reductions, but keep in mind many of the companies interviewed are multinationals, so at least some of the production work that is lost in North America is growing substantially elsewhere. A good sign for manufacturing in general are the areas where increased investments are expected, namely, new product/service introductions, IT, and R&D. On the other hand, manufacturers concede that their biggest (potential) barriers to growth include competition from foreign markets, unfavorable monetary exchange rates, and inability to implement growth, and a lack of qualified workers (especially at managerial levels). As informative as the report is, it paints the status and direction of worldwide manufacturing in strokes too broad to really see the true picture. Sure, they interviewed executives in 77 large companies, but it would be as useful to see results from interviews from at least this many small- to medium-sized manufacturing firms to gauge where the entire manufacturing realm is, since there are thousand upon thousands of companies of this smaller magnitude worldwide. It also would have been helpful to know what sectors the manufacturing companies interviewed represented - automotive, medical, consumer, instruments, agricultural, etc. - instead of just generic manufacturing. Finally, presenting the information broken out geographically would also be helpful in determining where the real manufacturing hotspots are. All in all, though, the report presents some food for thought on the state of manufacturing from a worldwide perspective. Although things may not be so hot here in manufacturing right now, on a worldwide scale, there appears to be reason for at least cautious optimism.

Delphi Selects Certification Training Partner For Its Unique CAD/CAM Design Methods

Delphi Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Delphi Corp., has selected SCATE Technologies Inc. to provide an online certified training program for its patented CAD/CAM methods -- Horizontal Modeling (HM) and Digital Process Design (DPD).

These formal, structured methodologies lower product and process design costs and increase productivity throughout the design-to-manufacturing cycle. SCATE provides the MCAD/PLM industry with advanced web-based, vendor-neutral training and services.

"Our CAD/CAM design methods, which we developed internally and now license externally, have started to change the way the industry designs," said Michelle Drage, director of commercialization and licensing for Delphi Corp. "These proven methods have started to gain a lot of traction in the industry and internet-based learning systems have gained in popularity."

SCATE, using its e-Learning system, will be able to bring HM and DPD to the next generation of designers and engineers by allowing them to learn the methods as part of their normal course work.

"Delphi's methods are the cutting edge of advanced techniques in CAD/CAM," said Stephen Sadler, chief executive officer of SCATE. "These new methods will help vastly increase enterprise efficiency, saving time and money, and shortening the design-to-production cycle time."

Using HM, designers can produce higher quality 3-D CAD models with their existing CAD systems. Editing and changing data is easier and all the data is available and usable in downstream functions. DPD starts with horizontal models to rapidly create master process models and their associated process sheets. When combined, these methodologies enable greater concurrency between product and process design, shorter design-to-product cycles, increased productivity and greater innovation.

"By teaching these methods to young designers and engineers on campus, these advanced techniques will become second nature," Sadler said. "We are pleased to partner with Delphi in this endeavor to help manufacturing companies increase productivity."

The training and certification program is available immediately from SCATE and includes a full self-paced internet based course and appropriate measurement of learning. Initially, the training is offered for the CATIA CAD platform and training in the Unigraphics platform is under development.

Delphi's patented Horizontal Modeling (HM) and Digital Process Design (DPD) have not been around all that long, but picking e-learning firm SCATE as the certification trainer for its unique CAD/CAM design methods should help the technologies gain greater credibility and wider acceptance. Delphi developed and has used the methods internally, now licenses them to other manufacturers, and says they reduce product and process design costs and boost productivity throughout the design-to-manufacturing cycle. HM and DPD are in production use today at over a dozen Delphi plants worldwide, and close to 3,000 parts have been produced using the methods.

Delphi-conducted studies have shown that, when combined, HM and CPD can provide the following productivity improvements:
  • 50% reduction in time to create product design and manufacturing process models
  • 65% reduction in time spent on editing models
  • 75% reduction in total project time
  • 100% reusable designs in downstream applications
  • 50% reduction in staff and resource requirements
HM and DPD support lean design and 6-Sigma quality manufacturing practices, optimize use of existing capital equipment investments, and can accelerate product cycles by integrating design and production processes.

In theory, HM produces data that is easier to change and is more usable in downstream functions, such as DPD. Traditionally, feature-based CAD methods stipulate vertical hierarchies of features with multiple, associated parent/child relationships between them. Changes to features can sometimes prove difficult because of the parent/child relationships, and can force model dismantling or complete model re-creation to make changes. The HM method captures design intent without creating parent/child relationships, minimizing dependencies throughout the design process. Working in conjunction with HM, DPD lets you create manufacturing process documents that can be automatically changed through direct edits to a single master process model. The HM and DPD methods have been employed with CATIA, UGS NX, and SolidWorks MCAD applications, but since the methods are said to be CAD-neutral, any MCAD system could be used, according to Delphi. These methods are still emerging, but are starting to make sense to a growing number of customers in other segments of manufacturing beyond automotive.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at Email Contact or 408.850.9230.

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