Design Engineering Automation for Highly Configurable Products

Manufacturers of highly configurable products want to maximize engineering resources. By capturing knowledge and decision-making, the newest best-in-class engineering automation software speeds development of subsequent design iterations. Automating rules for engineer-to-order (ETO) manufacturers configures custom versions; these technologies allow custom products to reach markets faster and with less friction. More compelling proposals, higher quality products, and reduced engineering costs provide a rapid ROI (return on investment).

A typical design engineering cycle and common questions
Design Engineering Automation for Highly Configurable Products
 
The questions accompanying product design are many and there are no easy answers. Automation offers shortcuts that deal with these various challenges. Answering these common questions via automation technology frees engineers to do more fulfilling, interesting, and rewarding work.

Many engineer-to-order manufacturers are able to manage configured products more effectively when automation is implemented especially during product engineering, development, and release cycles.  Manually, design errors increase exponentially.

Powerful automation tools
There are powerful automation tools for defining product structures, managing configuration rules (between products and across solutions), as well as understanding the interactions of options and components in complex products. These tools empower users to make faster, more effective design decisions. Through configuration analysis, BOM (Bill of Material) validation, and collaborative modeling, engineering automation achieves faster time to market with higher quality products at lower costs.

Excel-like simplicity helps create 3D product models and assemblies
Highly configurable products cannot be effectively managed using spreadsheets alone. Solutions like Knowledge Bridge (kBridge) operate a lot like Excel. Unlike Excel, the technology builds hierarchical product models, due to the native ability to identify and drive top-level design parameters. Users most appreciate fast, simple-to-use 3D graphics.

Engineers mired in non-automated work-around solutions (and frustrated with the segregation of spreadsheet information from design engineering) crave simple and robust engineering tools. Typically, engineers’ top complaint in the manual ETO space is the constant repetition of boring, tedious operations.

Automating operations
Once implemented, engineers can work on well-engineered and dynamic designs because the repetitive issues have been removed. The right tools allow engineers to create solidly engineered products and capture knowledge in a model, then re-use it any time needed in the future.
 
Growing engineering knowledge base must be incremental and easy
Design Engineering Automation for Highly Configurable Products
©2021 Engineering Intent kBridge

Best-in-class design engineering solutions must reside in the cloud. Domain experts capture engineering, sales, geometric, and configuration rules for an ETO product. UI (user interface) tools create data that non-technical personnel can use. Inputs include product engineering parameters and geometry as well as business rules and customer-specific information. Outputs include a variety of documents, including proposals, quotes, drawings, integrations with CAD/PDM, and data.

Technology must support evolutionary product design without disrupting work as users capture and grow a company’s knowledge base of engineering design capital. Design engineers must be empowered to explore options and incrementally improve product solutions through design iteration. Enterprise engineering knowledge captured in solutions can be shared and improved. No longer tribal knowledge these data can be shared to train new engineers.

“Engineer think” versus “Accountant think”
Experts are able to express product requirements, configure customer designs visually, and automate the to-order work in familiar environments (similar to a spreadsheet). Rule-making is aligned with the way engineers think versus a spreadsheet, where number-crunching is aligned with the way accountants think. Customers want custom designs and documentation. The best-in-class tools combine custom engineered content with existing materials which reduces the engineering design hours without compromising the client’s specifications.
About The Author
Scott Heide, Founder, CEO, Engineering Intent
With more than 30 years of experience in knowledge-based engineering software, Heide has long been a key source for industry understanding of and application strategies for engineering and sales automation. Heide drove the development of Knowledge Bridge, a cloud-based comprehensive EPQ (Engineer Price Quote) and visual configuration platform. It offers tools and methods to automate custom engineering, technical sales, and business processes – the “To Order” in “Engineer To Order”.
Heide holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Wichita State University and a Master of Science in Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Connect on LinkedIn.

SPOTLIGHT

Engineering Intent is the World's Leading Provider of Enterprise Engineering Automation Tools and Solutions. We've been helping companies tame their complex product configuration solutions for decades.

OTHER ARTICLES

Wireless AGVs May Prove Most Important ProMatDX Innovation

Article | April 1, 2021

April 12 -15 ProMatDX, the largest material handling event, will take place virtually. It will feature dozens of AGV vendors. Sadly, some of these highly innovating products still need to be plugged-in to capture power. No more. Wiferion in process charging eliminates the plug-in charging making AGVs truly autonomous. In process charging eliminates the waste of AGV downtime – the fleet is always working AND charging. In process charging is safe ensuring the OSHA, ergonomics, and danger to workers significantly reduced. In process charging is cost-efficient because full vehicle deployment means a reduced fleet count ensuring a rapid ROI. For OEMs of AGVs and industrial trucks implementing inductive charging technology solves the wear and tear issues caused by conventional charging methods as well as making vehicles fully autonomous. For end-users of AGVs and industrial trucks, inductive charging in combination with lithium batteries can improve fleet availability by more than 30%. Whether driverless transport systems (AGVs), electric forklifts, or mobile robots (AMRs), the efficient use of industrial trucks is a decisive factor for competitiveness during ever- increasing cost pressures. The energy systems are being scrutinized and lithium-ion batteries are the preferred technology. The advantages versus lead-acid batteries (including the ability to recharge faster and more often) are obvious. Until now the full potential of storage technology has not been fully realized.

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The Top Five Lean Manufacturing Tools for 2022

Article | December 13, 2021

Lean manufacturing is a growing trend that aims to reduce waste while increasing productivity in manufacturing systems. But, unfortunately, waste doesn't add value to the product, and buyers don't want to pay for it. This unusual method pushed Toyota Motor Corporation's industry to become a leading Toyota Production System (TPS). As a result, they are now efficiently producing some of the world's top cars with the least waste and the quickest turnaround. The majority of manufacturers are now using lean management. According to the 2010 Compensation Data Manufacturing report, 69.7% of manufacturing businesses use Lean Manufacturing Practices. Lean tools are the ones that help you in implementing lean practice in your organization. These lean tools assist in managing people and change while solving problems and monitoring performance. Lean Manufacturing technologies are designed to reduce waste, improve flow, improve quality control, and maximize manufacturing resources. What Are the Five Best Lean Manufacturing Tools and How Do They Work? There are roughly 50 Lean Manufacturing tools available in the market. This post will describe 5 of them and their value to your business and its developments. 5S The 5S system promotes efficiency by organizing and cleaning the workplace. To help increase workplace productivity, the system has five basic guidelines (five S's). The five Ss are Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. 5S improves workplace efficiency and effectiveness by: Sort: Removing unnecessary material from each work area Set: Set the goal of creating efficient work areas for each individual Shine: Maintaining a clean work area after each shift helps identify and resolve minor concerns Standardize: Documenting changes to make other work areas' applications more accessible Sustain: Repeat each stage for continuous improvement 5S is a lean tool used in manufacturing, software, and healthcare. Kaizen and Kanban can be utilized to produce the most efficient workplace possible. Just-In-Time (JIT) manufacturing Just-in-time manufacturing allows manufacturers to produce products only after a customer requests them. This reduces the risk of overstocking or damaging components or products during storage. Consider JIT if your company can operate on-demand and limit the risk of only carrying inventory as needed. JIT can help manage inventory, but it can also hinder meeting customer demand if the supply chain breaks. Kaizen With Kaizen, you may enhance seven separate areas at once: business culture, leadership, procedures, quality, and safety. Kaizen is a Japanese word, means "improvement for the better" or "constant improvement." “Many companies are not willing to change or think they are done once they make a change. But the truth is technology; consumer demands, the way we work, human needs and much more are constantly changing.” – Michael Walton, Director, Industry Executive at Microsoft The idea behind Kaizen is that everyone in the organization can contribute suggestions for process improvement. Accepting everyone's viewpoints may not result in significant organizational changes, but minor improvements here and there will add up over time to substantial reductions in wasted resources. Kanban Kanban is a visual production method that delivers parts to the production line as needed. This lean tool works by ensuring workers get what they need when they need it. Previously, employees used Kanban cards to request new components, and new parts were not provided until the card asked them to. In recent years, sophisticated software has replaced Kanban cards to signal demand electronically. Using scanned barcodes to signify when new components are needed, the system may automatically request new parts. Kanban allows businesses to manage inventory better, decrease unnecessary stock, and focus on the products that must be stored. To reduce waste and improve efficiency, facilities can react to current needs rather than predict the future. Kanban encourages teams and individuals to improve Kanban solutions and overall production processes like Kaizen. Kanban as a lean tool can be used with Kaizen and 5S. PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a scientific strategy for managing change. Dr. W. Edwards Deming invented it in the 1950s; hence, it is called the ‘Deming Cycle.’ The PDCA cycle has four steps: Problem or Opportunity: Determine whether a problem or an opportunity exists Do: Make a small test Examine: Look over the test results Act: Take action depending on results How Nestlé Used the Kaizen Lean Manufacturing Tool Nestlé is the largest food corporation in the world, yet it is also a company that practices Lean principles, particularly the Kaizen method. Nestlé Waters used a technique known as value stream mapping, which is frequently associated with Kaizen. They designed a new bottling factory from scratch to guarantee that operations were as efficient as possible. Nestlé has been aiming to make ongoing changes to their processes to reduce waste and the amount of time and materials that can be wasted during their operations. Final Words Lean manufacturing techniques enable many businesses to solve their manufacturing difficulties and become more productive and customer-centric. In addition, useful lean manufacturing tools assist companies in obtaining the anticipated outcomes and arranging their operations in many excellent ways to meet buyer expectations. Hence, gather a list of the top lean manufacturing tools and choose the best fit for your organization to maximize your ROI and address the performance issue that is causing your outcomes to lag. FAQ What are the standard tools in lean manufacturing? Among the more than 50 lean manufacturing tools, Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, and PDCA are the most commonly used lean manufacturing tools. How to Select the Best Lean Manufacturing Tools for Your Business? Choosing a lean manufacturing tool begins with identifying the issue or lag in your organization that affects overall productivity and work quality. To select the lean device that best meets your company's needs, you must first grasp each one's benefits and implementation techniques. What is included in a Lean 5S toolkit? The lean 5S toolbox contains some essential items for achieving the goal. It comes with a notepad or tablet, a camera, a high-quality flashlight, a tape measure, and a stopwatch. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the standard tools in lean manufacturing?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Among the more than 50 lean manufacturing tools, Kaizen, 5S, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, and PDCA are the most commonly used lean manufacturing tools." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How to Select the Best Lean Manufacturing Tools for Your Business?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Choosing a lean manufacturing tool begins with identifying the issue or lag in your organization that affects overall productivity and work quality. To select the lean device that best meets your company's needs, you must first grasp each one's benefits and implementation techniques." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is included in a Lean 5S toolkit?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The lean 5S toolbox contains some essential items for achieving the goal. It comes with a notepad or tablet, a camera, a high-quality flashlight, a tape measure, and a stopwatch." } }] }

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Is Additive Manufacturing the Key to Restore American Manufacturing?

Article | November 20, 2021

Additive manufacturing in America plays a significant part in reviving the manufacturing industry and establishing the country as a leader in applying additive manufacturing technology. The United States was formerly the industrial leader, but it fell out of favor between 2000 and 2010 for many reasons, including recession and structural and financial instability. In this challenging time, technology interventions such as additive manufacturing in the manufacturing business have allowed the industry to survive. As per the recent report by A.T. Kearney, the USA, the industry leader in manufacturing, has worked hard to reclaim its top position in manufacturing and has also been named the leader in additive manufacturing. Let's look at which fields of America are utilizing the benefits of additive manufacturing technology to reclaim its position as the industry leader. Additive Manufacturing in America The manufacturing industry is gravitating toward additive manufacturing, sometimes known as 3D printing. The numerous advantages of additive manufacturing, such as the reduction of material waste, the reduction of prototyping time, the reduction of prototyping costs, the creation of lightweight objects, and the ease with which it can be implemented and recreated, are making it more popular around the world, including in the United States. In the United States, the additive manufacturing and material industry is expected to be worth $4.1 billion by 2020. China is the world's second-largest economy and is expected to reach a projected market size of US$14.5 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 27.2 percent from 2020 to 2027. How does America Leverage the Additive Manufacturing? US Airforce has launched research into 3D printing The US Air Force has begun researching 3D printing replacement parts for old planes utilizing a 3D printing platform. The project initiative credit goes to 3D Systems, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, and Northrop Grumman. America Makes will observe the project in its third stage and be led by the University of Dayton Research. The Air Force Laboratory financed the Maturation of Advanced Manufacturing for Low-Cost Sustainment (MAMLS) program. The US Air Force will investigate how the 3D printing technology may reproduce components for outdated aircraft. Using additive manufacturing, the replacement parts may be created faster and in smaller batches, with no minimum order quantity. In addition, applying additive manufacturing will reduce the aircraft ground time and eliminate the need for parts warehousing. American Manufacturing Companies and Additive Manufacturing 3D Systems, Inc. 3D Systems is an additive manufacturing company. Their work goes beyond prototyping. The company's experts use their deep domain expertise in aerospace and healthcare industries to produce competitive additive manufacturing solutions. This global leader in additive manufacturing helps you define business needs, verify manufacturing flow, and scale manufacturing flow. General Electric GE has seen the benefits of additive manufacturing and its options for product design, such as the potential to build lighter, more vital components and systems. As a result, they created goods that are better performing, more sophisticated in design, and easier to produce. Ford Ford's advanced manufacturing center in Michigan is all about additive manufacturing. The company employs 3D printing extensively in product development and is looking to integrate it into manufacturing lines. As a result, additive manufacturing is now a critical aspect of the Ford product development cycle, enabling prototype parts and product engineering exercises. Final Words The American manufacturing industry has experienced a renaissance as a result of the advent of additive manufacturing. Additionally, it has built its national accelerator and leading collaborative partner in additive manufacturing, "America Makes," which is the largest manufacturing industryglobally in terms of revenue and operates in a variety of areas. However, it is mainly focused on 3D printing or additive manufacturing, which is undoubtedly reviving the country's manufacturing sector. FAQ What are the significant challenges in additive manufacturing? Limitations in terms of size, consistency of quality, scalability, a limited variety of materials and high material costs, and limited multi-material capabilities are only a few of the prevalent issues associated with additive manufacturing technology. Which company is leading in additive manufacturing technology in the USA? 3D Systems Corp. is the leading company in additive manufacturing technology with a revenue of $566.6 million. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What are the significant challenges in additive manufacturing?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Limitations in terms of size, consistency of quality, scalability, a limited variety of materials and high material costs, and limited multi-material capabilities are only a few of the prevalent issues associated with additive manufacturing technology." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Which company is leading in additive manufacturing technology in the USA?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "3D Systems Corp. is the leading company in additive manufacturing technology with a revenue of $566.6 million." } }] }

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How to Improve Production Scheduling: The 5 Crucial Elements

Article | December 8, 2021

The manufacturing production schedule is a critical aspect that enables the manufacturing business to complete each production activity precisely and on time. Allocating different raw materials, resources, or processes to distinct project phases is called a production schedule. Its goal is to make your manufacturing process as efficient and cost-effective as possible in terms of resources and labor — all while delivering products on schedule. As technology takes over and enhances many of the processes we used to handle with manual labor, we are freed up to use our minds creatively, which leads to bigger and better leaps in innovation and productivity." – Matt Mong, VP Market Innovation and Project Business Evangelist at Adeaca So, how is the overall production schedule managed? According to businesswire, the global APS (Advanced Production Planning and Scheduling) software market was valued at $1,491.22 million in 2020 and is anticipated to raise $2,941.27 million by 2028 expanding at an 8.86 percent CAGR from 2020 to 2028. Some software and tools are available to assist manufacturing organizations in properly scheduling production planning, including MaxScheduler, TACTIC, MRPeasy, and Gantt charts. Though there are numerous software programs available on the market for production scheduling, the most crucial aspect is determining which elements to consider when planning production. This blog will look at the five most important factors to consider while planning the production schedule. Five Elements to Consider When Scheduling Production As we saw in the introduction, production scheduling is used in the manufacturing process to assign plant and machinery resources, schedule human resources, plan production processes, and purchase materials. So, what are the primary components or stages of this production scheduling process? Let's take a quick look at each of them. Planning to Make the Best Use of the Company's Resources The role of planning in production scheduling is to use the company's resources to maintain a regular production flow. As a result, downtime is decreased, and bottlenecks are minimized, allowing production to be optimized. For production scheduling, two forms of planning can be used: Dynamic Planning: Dynamic planning is carried out under the idea that process stages will alter. So, materials must be ready, but production cannot begin until demand is decided. Static Planning: Static planning is done keeping in mind that all process steps will be completed on schedule and without adjustments. Routing to Determine the Order of Actions A “bill of materials” is used in discrete manufacturing to specify what things are needed and in what quantities. Routing determines the path and sequence of required phases of the process. It may involve in-house operations, but it may also comprise sub-contracted components that must be returned to the production flow for final assembly. Scheduling to Make Use of Predetermined Planning Levels To manufacture products from components or raw materials, scheduling makes use of the previously set planning level. As a result, it is time-dependent and must meet the demand outlined at the planning level. Each department, product, and procedure can have their own unique set of timetables. Sub-schedules for sub-assemblies or mixes and blends may be defined by department-specific master production schedules, utilized at the highest level to define product timeframes. Dispatching to Decide on Immediate Actions Dispatching assigns the following jobs to be done from a subset of the production queue. Dispatching is utilized to make quick decisions. This is in contrast to planning, which involves the planning of future actions. Dispatching is utilized in both pull and push production systems. Execution to Ensure that all Processes are Carried out Correctly Production scheduling must rely on proper execution to ensure that all processes are completed appropriately and in the sequence planned. It requires everyone to know what they are expected to do and when they are expected to do it. Execution requires knowledgeable management decisions, well-trained employees, correct data in the manufacturing plan and schedule, and consistent sales statistics and forecast numbers. All must be present for the organization to carry out its production plan and fulfill orders. How MRPeasy – A Production Scheduling Software Assist Manufacturing Companies in Scheduling Their Production? MRPeasy is a cloud-based material requirements planning (MRP) application explicitly designed for small manufacturing units. Its primary functions are purchase order management, forecasting, and inventory management. This software simplifies the process of scheduling production. It enables you to evaluate all of your anticipated manufacturing orders (MO). The bill of materials (BOM), purchasing, and stocking are all maintained in one location, allowing you to quickly book inventory and increase purchase orders (PO) for acquired parts. MRPeasy enables you to: Obtain all of the detailed information on all of your MOs Consider MOs as a single block or as distinct operations. Drag-and-drop operations and operations to reschedule Calendar or Gantt chart views are available for monitoring scheduled orders. Additionally, you can manage MOs smoothly. With the production planning component, you may create, amend, and update MOs. This app compiles an exhaustive list of all your MOs. You can track their progress based on the status of an order or a part's availability. Additionally, you can search for, filter, and export your MOs. Final Words How to schedule production for your organization requires extensive research, planning, and analysis of overall product demand as well as a grasp of the time required to meet the demand. Production scheduling techniques such as job-based planning, batch method, flow method, and others help develop a productive manufacturing production schedule. Include the elements mentioned above in your manufacturing scheduling to get the best possible benefits, such as better production efficiency, lower production costs, and on-time product delivery for your manufacturing in 2022. FAQ How production planning differ from production scheduler? Production planning and scheduling are often mixed. But there is a difference. Planning decides what and how much work must be done, whereas scheduling specifies who and when the work will be done. What is real-time manufacturing scheduling? Real-Time Scheduling is a production planning, scheduling, and tracking tool that enables manufacturing organizations to improve customer satisfaction and achieve optimal operational performance cost-effectively. How can scheduling be improved? Communication with staff is a great way to improve scheduling. This is true for all businesses, software or otherwise. However, management should not burden employees with ambiguous or unclear communication, and vice versa. { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How production planning differ from production scheduler?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Production planning and scheduling are often mixed. But there is a difference. Planning decides what and how much work must be done, whereas scheduling specifies who and when the work will be done." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "What is real-time manufacturing scheduling?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Real-Time Scheduling is a production planning, scheduling, and tracking tool that enables manufacturing organizations to improve customer satisfaction and achieve optimal operational performance cost-effectively." } },{ "@type": "Question", "name": "How can scheduling be improved?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Communication with staff is a great way to improve scheduling. This is true for all businesses, software or otherwise. However, management should not burden employees with ambiguous or unclear communication, and vice versa." } }] }

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Engineering Intent is the World's Leading Provider of Enterprise Engineering Automation Tools and Solutions. We've been helping companies tame their complex product configuration solutions for decades.

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