Solving the engineering to manufacturing puzzle

As part of my duties at SOLIDWORKS, I visit customers to see how they are using our products and get ideas on how we could improve them.  I am always amazed at how customers find new ways to use our products to make their businesses more efficient.

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting KUKA Assembly and Test Corporation in Michigan.  KUKA designs and builds custom assembly and testing equipment for the automotive industry and has changed how engineering communicates assembly information to manufacturing.  Lev Mondrusov, the VP of Engineering at KUKA, explained that his team of engineers and designers create beautiful 3D CAD models of the complex machines they design but were handing “puzzles” to manufacturing in the form of assembly drawings.  Let’s take a short look at how they resolved their disconnect and improved communication between engineering and manufacturing.

We all know the benefits 3D CAD models can provide when creating 2D representations (drawings) of those models like automatic isometric and section views, shaded images and easy details views. These types of views were extremely time consuming to produce using a drafting board or 2D CAD systems and these types of drawing views were usually omitted or over simplified.  This created an even harder puzzle for the people in manufacturing who were left to create products with limited information, often resulting in them forced to become experts at solving 3D puzzles.  Solving the puzzles took time and despite their best efforts and intentions, errors were made.

The manufacturing workforce has seen the retirement of many of those expert puzzle solvers who are now being replaced by people with less experience at deciphering 2D information. In addition, the workforces at companies building capital equipment grow and shrink based on the jobs that are won.  This introduces people who are less familiar with the type of work a company does and how things need to fit together.

To address the problem, KUKA has eliminated traditional 2D drawings of assemblies and instead provides electronic interactive and animated 3D assembly information created with SOLIDWORKS Composer.  Manufacturing now receives information that is easy to understand and describes how components and sub-assemblies go together not just what they look like afterwards.  They still create SOLIDWORKS drawings of individual components with all the necessary product manufacturing information (PMI) to accurately create the component and use the 3D model for generating CNC data.

What’s the next step for them?  Providing viewing devices for everyone in manufacturing and going completely paperless.

Visit our data managment page to learn the fundamentals of SOLIDWORKS EPDM and the real cost of losing data.


Kurt Lundstedt

Kurt Lundstedt

Kurt is a Product Portfolio Manager for PDM Solutions at Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS.
Kurt Lundstedt

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