Designing for Precision on the Shop Floor at Wamore, Inc.

Wamore - AirdropApparently, before the idea of a “precision air drop” was invented, there was only the standard “air drop,” which was military-speak for dumping tons of supplies from an airplane and keeping your fingers crossed that at least some made it to the intended target. As you can imagine, this could be wasteful, and sometimes helped an army’s enemies as much as its own troops. I learned all about precision air drops on a recent visit to Wamore, Inc., located in Phoenix, Arizona.  As a side benefit, I also got a lesson on how to greatly reduce production line errors.

Among other things, Wamore builds cargo parachute systems specifically designed for air drop situations. But these aren’t just any parachutes; they’re precision-guided units that deliver their cargo to precise locations automatically. I specifically went to Wamore to see how they have successfully implemented 3D assembly instructions on the shop floor. Obviously, these airdrop systems must be built to very strict standards, and production line errors are very costly.

Like many companies, Wamore used to print assembly instructions on paper, which were created from photos of the products in different stages of production. The use of printed assembly instructions for the shop floor does work, but if there are any changes to the design or assembly process, the time to update documentation be time consuming and products can easily go out of the door incorrectly. Mark Kusbel, President of Wamore, said they needed to implement fail-proof systems to be sure that the shop floor is using the most up-to-date assembly instructions, and eliminate errors.

Wamore solved these problems–and also reduced creation time of assembly instructions by 85%–by implementing SolidWorks Enterprise PDM (EPDM) and SolidWorks Composer for use on the shop floor. Designs are created or edited in SolidWorks, then instructions are built using Composer. The instructions are stored with EPDM, and are accessible from the shop floor.  The assembly technician accesses the 3D Composer instructions for whichever part he needs to assemble from EPDM. SolidWorks Composer Player is used on a shop floor monitor, and the technician will walk through the assembly process in 3D. There’s no paper involved, and he is always using the latest version of the instructions.

Here’s the best part–if there are any errors in the instructions found on the shop floor, they’re tracked using EPDM, and the instructions are blocked out so no one can access the instructions until the update has been made.  Updates are made in 3D, so no new photos need to be taken and nothing needs to be reprinted.  Reviewing the revised instructions all happens in EPDM.  Having congruity with SolidWorks files and Composer files managed with EPDM, and accessible from the shop floor as well as the engineering office, makes Wamore very efficient.  I was really impressed with their operation, even though I didn’t get to fly on a test air drop mission.

This video dives into more detail the process that Wamore uses with SolidWorks Composer on the shop floor:

shop-floor-video

To read more about Wamore, view their case study on our website: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/successes/customer-story.htm?record=Wamore&id=4910

Here are my questions for you:

  • How are you eliminating paper in your company?
  • What barriers are stopping you from eliminating paper?

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Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks