In a previous blog on Drawingless or Paperless, we clarified that MBD Implementations don’t require heavy upfront investment on digital equipment. However, there are indeed MBD manufacturers around the world who are also very successful with paperless processes. This post will introduce two visionary examples: Gulfstream and Yaris Kabin. Let’s find out how they upgraded their infrastructure (software and hardware) and what benefits have been realized. My takeaway is upgraded infrastructure is not a must-have initially, but can certainly help drive MBD into a higher level.
Founded in 1958, Gulfstream has become the leader on business and private jet design, manufacturing, and service. Its focus is on air frame and completion. The images below show its fleet today and a typical jet cabinet.
What’s remarkable about Gulfstream is that it’s the first to achieve a long-held aerospace industry dream: an aircraft developed with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified, fully electronic MBD system. According to Dan Ganser, PLM Staff Scientist with Gulfstream, they designed G650 completely using MBD approach in 2007. Later, lots of G650 MBD data was reused in G500 and G600 so that they were able to concurrently design these two new models together and announce both test flights in early 2015.
How could Gulfstream achieve this? One of the best practices is to equip shop floor with native CAD software and digital terminals as shown in the image below, which empowers manufacturing teams to interrogate native MBD data directly. It not only eliminates the data loss due to back-and-forth format conversions, but also reduces 3D dimensions, tolerances or other annotations so that design teams can focus on calling out critical or exceptional annotations only. Furthermore, Gulfstream requires all suppliers to use the same native CAD system at exactly the same major and minor release version. In order to synchronize, they even coordinate all internal and external system upgrades every 2 years.
Another example is Yaris Kabin, a tractor manufacturer in Turkey. There are more than 3,000 parts in more than 700 groups for a typical tractor. In order to quickly and accurately retrieve key manufacturing information such as assembly instructions, BOM tables, exploded views, and tooling, they installed touch screens and bar code scanners on their shop floor. Now all the data can be accessed instantly for the needs of a specific assembly station.
What’s worth noting about Yaris is their affordable hardware investment. For example, this touch screen costs only about $900 and it performs very well in their noisy, dusty, and greasy factory environment. A bar code scanner is less than $15. Plus we all know hardware price drops pretty fast.
One last point, besides new infrastructure, maintaining existing software and hardware also plays an important role in MBD implementation and ultimately product quality. Let’s take machining as an example. Even if CAM software is purchased for automatic programming and Numeric Controlled (NC) equipment is in place to execute the programs, quality can still vary greatly due to tool wear, frictions between moving bodies, or sensor margin of errors.
Let’s conclude this post for now before it becomes too lengthy. To learn more about SOLIDWORKS MBD, please visit its product page. Also welcome to discuss with me at Twitter (@OboeWu) or LinkedIn (OboeWu). Next topic is “Don’t overlook MBD over the web.” We will look into another exciting MBD enabler powered by new technologies.