This case study examines the experience of an internationally successful European automobile manufacturer.
"Our solution helps the company to launch new vehicle models onto the market more quickly. In today’s competitive environment, this is more important than ever", PITERION.
Situation and challenge
In the automobile industry, factories start planning the manufacture of a new model while the car is still being developed, otherwise it would take too long to launch the product onto the market. This usually involves two or three years of intense digital collaboration between the areas of construction and factory planning over numerous milestones, together with a vast number of modifications and adjustments at regular intervals.
At this particular company – a renowned automobile manufacturer – this process presented factory planners with a number of challenges. For instance, the construction data did not always consider information that was important from a factory-planning perspective. While a designer tends to categorize a car according to its various components, factory planners look at a vehicle primarily in terms of the manufacturing process.
To be specific, certain parts of the construction data lacked sufficient differentiation – not least because of the minimal interface between the respective PLM systems. For example, data for connecting elements like spot welds and adhesive bonding were grouped together and handed over to factory planning in one folder, without further details to help factory planners differentiate the components. After all, factory planners require an ID for each individual spot weld.
Furthermore, with construction data updated every two months, there were often difficulties in recognizing the sometimes thousands of changes that had been made where factory planning would have to be adjusted.
Initially, a solution was put forward to integrate the factory planning’s PLM system into the company’s main PLM setup, where the construction department was also integrated. However, this plan was scrapped due to the amount of time and effort this would have involved. Instead, the Piterion specialists who were assigned to this project decided to set up a live interface between both PLM systems consisting of several software applications.
Due to the complexity of the associated processes, each system was tailor-made by Piterion. This also turned out to be the more cost-effective option: standard solutions would have required extensive customization, resulting in higher expenditure.
In practice, the solution differentiates components, including connecting elements like spot welds and adhesive bonding, so that when factory planning receives them, they can be easily identified.
In addition, the application allocates a date to each individual detailed plan from construction to indicate when it expires. Thanks to an automated link with current data versions, the factory planners can immediately see all changes in construction planning. Synchronization on a daily basis ensures that any changes can be addressed quickly – a more preferable solution to the one previously, where an enormous number of modifications were received all at once at every milestone.
Using an automated process, the new system instructs vehicle designers to add certain information from the beginning – data that factory planning often didn’t receive before. This information is also automatically adjusted and updated after any changes.
In the near future, there are also plans for the solution to allow automated feedback from factory planning to construction – for example to find quick and easy solutions to design-related issues that may occur later on in the manufacturing process.
Thanks to PITERION’s solution, the company is now benefiting from a significantly closer link between two fundamental areas of the corporation. It takes less time to set up new factories or to adapt existing manufacturing facilities; this contributes to new vehicle models being launched sooner, resulting in a faster return of development-related investment.
If required, vehicle models can be switched several times a day on production lines that are based on the new system. This allows the company to respond more effectively to short-term fluctuations in demand, for example.
Furthermore, with each component being custom-designed, the solution was developed so that it could be used for similar scenarios and requirements elsewhere within the company. This is already the case in four areas of the corporation. This also allows the solution to be quickly and smoothly customized to future methods of production that could involve new processes that we do not know about today.
PITERION is an international PLM service provider headquartered in Germany with branches in the USA, India, Singapore, Tunisia, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland. Our highly qualified staff offers solutions and services independent of system manufacturers. We always follow the provisions of the EN 9100 (aerospace), ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality management standards. We have set up internal standards and processes that enable us to maintain a consistently high quality of service across our sites throughout the world.
We constitute a competent and independent partner of our customers providing tailor-made solutions and services. Jointly with our technology providers we may therefore support the PLM strategy of our customers in the best way possible.