SOLIDWORKS 2017 and an attractive future for manufacturing in APAC

Manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region is about to be gifted an extraordinary tool: Magnetic Mates, one of the newest features coming out in SOLIDWORKS 2017. As people around the globe are talking about the innovative features in the latest edition of the software, Magnetic Mates is set to play a strong role in helping improve productivity in industrial settings.

Given the importance of manufacturing in the region – as well as its competitiveness – Magnetic Mates will be a major asset in boosting efficiency through plant layout and design.

But what exactly is Magnetic Mates, and why will it have such a significant impact in Asia-Pacific manufacturing?

Production volatility in Asia-Pacific

The countries of Southeast Asia and Oceania are key players in the global manufacturing sphere, though their position in the market has been in flux over the last three years – a trend that is expected to continue to 2020.

Deloitte's Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index charts the positions and performance of the industry in countries worldwide. We've compiled the results for countries of interest in the region with data from Deloitte's 2013 and 2016 releases of the index.

Though they are slowly trending lower over time, Singapore and Taiwan have led the region, and are expected to maintained their lead over the next four years. Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia are less stable in their positions, but all show an overall growth potential. Australia, on the other hand, has dropped from 2013 to 2016 and is not expected to perform much better in 2020. China (not pictured) is the clear dominant force in the region; it has held the number one spot in 2013 and 2016, with Deloitte's projections putting it in second by 2020.

Driving factors behind competitiveness

Two of the main factors that affect market performance on the index are productivity and cost; these come down to matters of efficiency, output and the workforce, all of which are closely intertwined.

Plant layout plays a significant role in determining productivity.

Thailand, Deloitte's research notes, boasts a highly skilled workforce. However, that is accompanied by higher salaries – and therefore operating costs – than neighbouring countries. While manufacturing costs are more sustainable in Malaysia, the country's output suffers from lower productivity. Holding the number one and two positions from 2013 through to 2020, China is still the powerhouse in Asia Pacific. While Indonesia is cost-competitive, it is unable to match China's output.

These patterns show room for improvement, whether it be in improving productivity or decreasing costs. Both of these goals are achievable through improvements in efficiency. Better layout and design of production facilities is a key strategy in this regard.

The layout-efficiency connection

Research into plant design improvements has shown that such changes can have a drastic impact on efficiency. Findings published in a 2014 issue of the International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology showed that one plant saw an productivity increase of 85.31 per cent by reducing the distance each produced unit moved by 309.37 metres.

A similar experiment, carried out in an automotive parts plant, also showed improvements from reducing the distance units travelled through the facility. The results show an 11.95 per cent efficiency increase.

3D design software is an invaluable asset for such improvements, providing planners with a virtual space in which to examine different options and configurations. With Magnetic Mates, SOLIDWORKS 2017 brings this a step further. Reconfiguring assets in a model is simple, as components can be easily moved through a drag-and-drop interface. Magnetic Mates are connection points that can be configured for each asset, which allows for easy joining of two components. Snap lines indicate when a Magnetic Mate can be applied, enabling the user to seamlessly make the connection in the model. Through this functionality, entire production lines can be reorganised without hassle.

Get in touch with us or watch this video to learn more about the Magnetic Mates feature in SOLIDWORKS 2017.