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 The Interoperability Advisor

Posts Tagged ‘CAD’

Processes & Metrics – Missing Pieces of the ESI Puzzle (Part 2 of 5)

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

“The Case for Automated Remastering” is a 5 part series exploring a changing paradigm within Engineering Systems Interoperability (ESI). This latest post explores how processes and metrics can be applied to ESI.

Part 2: Processes & Metrics – Missing Pieces of the ESI Puzzle

When it comes to architecting processes for PLM solutions, many manufacturers are drowning in a sea of technical and administrative due diligence.  However, organizations often neglect to apply this same type of due diligence to architecting and implementing Engineering Systems Interoperability (ESI) solutions. 

The situation offers tremendous upside for managers that oversee process and/or quality controls.  In some cases, the internal rate of return on an ESI project can be two to ten times the investment.  The problem is that some manufacturers treat ESI as a problem point within the value chain, when in essence, these problems can (and will) propagate themselves at multiple points within the value chain. 

With the model-based enterprise (MBE), as more data is populated in the upstream CAD model, conversely, there is more that can go wrong in the downstream systems.  In cases where these models are constantly being manipulated and reused (but not in a consistent way), process controls, operational metrics, and technical oversight are the primary means of enforcing MBD policies.  Automated remastering can help solve these problems by providing processes, metrics, and activity tracking.

The Automated Remastering Process – A Holistic View

Figure 2.1 illustrates an end-to-end holistic view of automated remastering to help engineering IT managers create the overall project vision. 

Using an automated remastering process offers three distinct tactical advantages: 1) scales to accommodate multiple programs, the enterprise, and/or the supply chain, 2) portable to other programs/products and 3) includes API “hooks” into PLM software applications and workflow.

The process also dovetails into three financial advantages:  1) incorporates/integrates your team’s existing ESI technologies, 2) uses a hybrid model that balances both automation and manual intervention to offset labor costs, and 3) leverages Lean building blocks to justify, measure and oversee the process.

Figure 2.1 – Automated Remastering Top-Level Process

Lean Goals Automated Remastering

Each point within the process above represents a separate workflow that can be modified to fit within your PLM environment and/or IT infrastructure. Figure 2.2 (below) represents a simplified, project-specific automated remastering workflow for a 5,000-part dataset.

Figure 2.2 – Automated Remastering Sample Workflow

Automated Remastering Workflow

Forming the Basis for an Internal Rate of Return

As with any ESI process, regardless of domain (CAD, CAE, CAM, PLM, MRO, etc.), a manager’s ability to measuring the internal investment return and subsequently realizing those results, is critical.  For many purchasing situations, finance recognizes Lean methodologies to help justify capital expenditures. 

In the example below, we illustrate how process efficiencies and labor waste may be depicted in a visual management model depicting value-added and non-value added time.  For this particular project, labor hours were assigned to each bar on the chart; the subsequent report included detailed workflows.

Figure 2.3 – Depicting ESI Value-Added (VA) & Non-Value Added (NVA) Time

ESI Value Added Time

Collecting ESI Metrics for Cost-Benefit Analyses

 The Process of automated remastering includes a qualification workflow to help managers analyze data sets, predict potential trouble spots, mitigate risk and prioritize spending.  The technology within this workflow provides both top-level and in-depth analyses for MBD data moving between systems, including 3D models and assemblies, the 2D drawings and Product Manufacturing Information (PMI).

Figure 2.4 – Sample of Metrics or Cost-Benefit Analyses

Cost Benefit Analyses resized 600

ESI Projects should leverage Process-Centric Methods & Measures

The reasons why automated remastering is an acceptable option for any ESI initiative is that the solution offers a scalable, repeatable and portable process that captures metrics and measures.  The technology powering the process offers managers the capability of overseeing the details of what is actually happening to their intellectual property.  In the next article, we will explore the technologies that managers can use to deploy a cost-effective hybrid solution consisting of automation and manual intervention. 

Learn How to Achieve Lean Goals through Automated Remastering

To learn more about using a process-centric approach to Engineering Systems Interoperability, please register for our 30-minute webinar, Achieving Lean Goals through Automated Remastering, facilitated by my colleague, Program Manager & Senior Consultant, Tony Provencal. To register, click here.

CAD Model Translation – A Commodity in Question (Part 1 of 5)

Friday, December 10th, 2010

“The Case for Automated Remastering” is a five-part article series that explores a changing paradigm within Engineering Systems Interoperability (ESI). Part 1, “CAD Model Translation – The Commodity in Question,” explores how the maturation of CAD is changing the industry’s approach to ESI.

Part 1: CAD Model Translation – A Commodity in Question
Architecting and implementing ESI solutions is becoming increasingly difficult – you can’t throw a translator at the problem and expect it to be a cure-all. There is still a need for automation tools that manipulate geometry, but the interoperability market is rapidly expanding beyond geometry-centric translation point solutions.

Manufacturers need consultative ESI solution providers that know how to architect processes, pair them with automation tools, and integrate these solutions into their PLM environments.

The Maturation of CAD and the Effects of Model-Based Definition (MBD)
Eight-to-ten years ago, interoperability software applications were often limited to desktop-based, 2D and 3D-BREP software translators (see Figure 1.1). Clients evaluated these solutions like any other point solution – by comparing features, functionality, price, and performance. In most cases, buyers hoped to achieve 100% success, and were mostly satisfied when it was technically possible to get close (90-98%).

Figure 1.1 – Legacy CAD Translation Scenario
Legacy CAD Translation resized 600
Today, 3D models have essentially become holding containers for intellectual property (see Figure 1.2). With the proliferation of MBD, and the advances in 3D modeling technologies, more entities are now being introduced into the CAD model. It is increasingly difficult to maintain 100% of these entities, despite the fact that they are managed and manipulated throughout the product development value chain.
Figure 1.2 – Today’s MBD Translation Scenario

MBD Translation

As CAD systems continue to mature, and PLM systems become more complex, the ability to achieve 100% translation success in an MBD-centric environment is diminishing rapidly. In most cases, some form of manual intervention is required. Even with feature-based translation, model completion is often required to ensure design intent and model quality, and preserve drawings and/or manufacturing information.

Move Away from the “Translator” Mindset and Execute Strategically

MBD has created an explosion of new data, and this proliferation of intellectual property requires a different approach to CAD data management. Manufacturers are becoming strict about how they deliver data to partners and suppliers. Technical environments are changing; the size of models is increasing, as is the need for improved hardware and robust infrastructures.

MBD strategists are looking for solutions that offer better performance, robustness and investment returns. This is where automated remastering can play a strategic role in moving MBD data between containers (CAD systems). The automated remastering process is scalable and repeatable, and in many cases, serve as a confidence-building first step in constructing an ESI strategy.

In the next article, we will examine the process of automated remastering, and how this process can factor into your Lean Manufacturing initiatives.

Acknowledgments: My thanks to colleagues Tony Provencal and Peter Heath for their time and contributions to this article series. For more information about the solutions their teams provide, visit: and, respectively.

Best Practices for CAD-to-CAE Interoperability Projects

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

CAE tool providers attempt to close the data exchange gap between CAD and CAE with built-in pre-processors. Unfortunately, the overall success rates are low, ranging from 20-50%.  These failures are associated with conversion, repair, or simplification processes and add a significant amount of non-value-added labor.

Third-party solutions push success rates to 75-95%.  However, in global organizations, the proliferation of multiple tools, processes, and methodologies eventually erode productivity gains. This article explores best practices to help you increase your internal rate of return on CAD-to-CAE interoperability investments.

1.  Use Value Stream Maps to Illustrate Labor Waste

Many CAE teams struggle to find investment capital for interoperability initiatives.  By using value stream maps, non-value-added time (NVAT) is illustrated within the context of the process and quantified in terms of hours and labor dollars.  If you wish to see an example, email me.

2.  Minimize Downstream Risks by Classifying Data Formats

Modeling kernels all pose different risks to downstream applications.  If your CAE teams consume data from multiple sources, document all import and export formats, and include any requirements that involve custom CAD packages and proprietary analsysis tools.

3.  Standardize Your CAE Interoperability Platform to Reduce Costs

In cases where multiple CAD and/or CAE packages are used, acquire technology that will enable the standardization and consolidation of your CAE interoperability needs under a single platform.  For instances where proprietary CAD and/or CAE packages are used, use a third-party provider to develop interfaces that will integrate with your chosen platform.

4.  Stabilize the Data Before Engaging in CAE Pre-Processing

Unknown, destabilizing conditions within complex parts or assemblies can pose serious time delays for teams performing specialized analysis scenarios.  Third-party data stability analysis tools can be used to predict and/or troubleshoot downstream usability failures in models used for simulation, before they happen.

5.  Centralize CAE Interoperability Technologies

Establish a technical center of excellence that will centralize your CAD-to-CAE interoperability processes and technologies.  For small-to-medium companies, a single application implemented as either a workstation or server solution can fill the gap.

For global enterprises with a myriad of CAD and CAE applications, a CAE Interoperability Center of Excellence can be implemented and scaled to include support for native and/or neutral formats, proprietary systems, and integrated within PLM workflows.  The figure below illustrates an in-production use case:


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