About the customer
Data management with SmarTeamThe customer is one of the world’s leading suppliers of aluminum and composite superplastically formed components, supplying parts to leading companies such as Boeing, Airbus Industries, British Aerospace, Siemens, Aston Martin and many others across the globe.
Over the past 25 years, they have developed a range of unique forming processes to meet their customer’s requirements. They have two manufacturing sites that offer solutions for materials ranging from medium strength aluminum alloys to high strength airframe alloys and composites.
Superplastically forming is a hot forming process in which a sheet of aluminum is heated to 450-500°C then forced onto or into a single surface tool to create a complex three-dimensional shape.
A range of sophisticated processes are available in-house including DIN rated welding, 5 axes trimming and CMM inspection. Using their CATIA based CAD systems, their tooling engineers work with customers to develop components specifically to suit the forming process.
The customer has been using CATIA V5 for a number of years for the design of form tools and the associated jigs and fixtures. They receive surface data in various formats from their clients and the control of the data and the ability for staff to view the data has previously required multiple independent applications. Now all this information can be controlled and viewed within one product, namely SmarTeam, in the same format that the customer originally delivered the data.
Prior to the implementation of SmarTeam, each project had its own network directory along with associated sub-folders. Any common components would be copied into each folder set, thereby replicating data. Since the deployment of SmarTeam this is no longer necessary, standard components can be re-used by just creating a link to the current project, eliminating wasted server space and the risk of using out of date models.
Co-location of functional groups
The customer operates co-located functional teams in order to improve internal efficiency, improving communications and allowing them to constantly stay on top of developing situations. All new projects are now started in SmarTeam, initiated by a clients request for quotation, right through to production. Everybody uses SmarTeam to access CAD data and can either browse the relevant SmarTeam project tree or run searches to rapidly locate the information. This speeds up the process of data acquisition for the whole company, reducing the time to turnaround projects.
Support from TECHNIA
The entire process is supported by TECHNIA, a Dassault Systemes Value Added Reseller (VAR). TECHNIA installed and configured SmarTeam and trained everyone involved with the SmarTeam project. As always with a change to working practices of this nature, success depended on a close working relationship with input from both parties.
The SmarTeam implementation is based on the TECHNIA “I-SDE” template database. TECHNIA have taken all the best functionality from the Design Express product (created by Dassault Systèmes) and industrialised it for robust operation and rapid deployment.
“We have incorporated functionality which we have developed within our sister company, Integral Powertrain and this has proven to be of real benefit to our clients. As a result, I-SDE now forms the foundation for our new SmarTeam implementations and allows us to rapidly deploy SmarTeam offering an open platform that can be tailored to the exact needs of a client by our experienced staff”, says Darren Cairns, Director of TECHNIA.
Customer and supplier initially came together through an engineering project on which TECHNIA engineers provided subcontract design support. This close support gave TECHNIA insight into the needs and working practices of the customer which aided the PLM system implementation.
The customer recognised the added benefit of working with a supplier that had customer project experience of actually using the product, and could relate the system to everyday engineering issues.
One of the primary benefits that SmarTeam has given the customer is the ability to hold live design reviews using the SmarTeam viewer. This has eliminated the need for creating drawing prints that are invariably thrown away after the review has finished. SmarTeam has also provided a secure mechanism for users to share data, ensuring that everyone is accessing the correct revision and managing product structures.
The next step in the PLM roadmap is to integrate the data held within SmarTeam with other company systems such as quality documentation and MRP in order to aid the seamless transfer of information throughout the business.