Manufacturing AUTOMATION

2008 Case Study Software Guide

June 10, 2009
By John Tenpenney

A series of Canadian application stories from leading CAD/CAM, PLM and ERP providers.


Paper company improves business intelligence
Catalyst Paper Corporation is one of North America’s largest mechanical paper companies with four pulp and paper manufacturing divisions, a paper recycling division located in British Columbia, and one pulp and paper 100 per cent recycling division based in Arizona and produces over 2.8 million tons of paper.
THE CHALLENGE: Catalyst prepares a monthly presentation consisting of 20 separate reports for its sales and manufacturing team, which captures quality and service issues. Producing consistent, reliable products and providing the best in customer care is the number-one priority for Catalyst. As part of this commitment, the company produces a detailed monthly analysis presentation looking at the root causes associated with claims and complaints. The complexity of the views and spreadsheets made it difficult for staff to find the data they needed and obtain the appropriate amount of detail. It became clear that Catalyst needed to develop a strategic approach to creating, managing and sharing its business intelligence.
THE STRATEGY: To help streamline a lengthy reporting process, improve their usefulness and implement better document control, Catalyst implemented Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 upgraded to Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Catalyst sought the help of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Haba-ero Consulting Group. After conducting an assessment, Haba-ero recommended that Catalyst upgrade to the 2007 Microsoft Office system, leveraging Microsoft Office Excel 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 for the front end, with an upgrade to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 on the back end.
THE RESULTS: With Microsoft SharePoint 2007, Catalyst now has the ability to better manage the reports, track the versions and put controls around copies of the reports, allowing staff to look at the history of changes and enforce accountability with report owners. Microsoft Office 2007 is increasing customer response times. Staff can proactively address the claims from its customers in a timely manner and easily identify any instances of repetitive defects. Microsoft Excel 2007 produces deep analytical reports around product costs and quality issues. With full support for SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services, Catalyst can query the most current business data and quickly and easily build a custom report. Since implementing these technologies, Catalyst’s QMS, sales and marketing teams are expecting tremendous benefits from the software upgrade, including document version control, time-savings and improved insight into business data. As a result, Catalyst benefited from improved document control, reduced processing time, faster data analysis and better collaboration.



Roll form manufacturer picks up the pace
For more than 35 years Toronto-based Samco Machinery Ltd. has manufactured quality custom roll form systems. This ISO 9001 registered firm offers complete lines of equipment, serves multiple industries and enjoys an international reputation for producing exceptional products.
THE CHALLENGE: With the rising Canadian dollar, Samco sought to increase efficiency in its electrical division. With bulky methods and manual processes that hindered production, the company required a solution to address diverse needs in schematics and standardization. “It was tough. Cross-references, the slightest changes to drawings, libraries; everything was done manually which was very time consuming for us,” says Gus Theoulis, electrical manager of Samco. “The drawings always looked different, causing inconsistencies, which wasted a lot of time. We had to become more productive.”
THE STRATEGY: “Upon examination of Samco’s business model, it was clear a complex solution was needed,” explains Gino Barone, senior business development manager at SolidCAD. Building on the features of Autodesk’s AutoCAD Electrical software and featuring Samco-specific libraries, blocks and methods, this “Samco-CAD” would be the foundation of a multi-purpose solution to maximize internal practices and knowledge base.
This customized application combined with ongoing support, personalized training and a standards manual connected business divisions while addressing efficiency and production issues. “We determined this combined package of products and services allowed for a seamless integration to address immediate and future needs,” says Barone.
THE RESULTS: By providing the right tools and necessary customization, SolidCAD created many more manufacturing possibilities for Samco. “Potential issues are identified early on because of the automated system and the shop is a lot more efficient. There has been an increase in profitability across the company,” says Theoulis. Samco’s electrical engineers are now fully able to forge benchmarks for line speeds, productivity outputs and rapid change automation. “The feedback from our engineers is amazing. They are now 30 per cent faster in their work. The reporting capabilities and ease of use have translated into huge cost savings for our department,” says Theoulis. “Since the implementation, I have reconfigured time estimates because we can now turn around projects far more quickly.”


Small firm makes the right impression
Automation Systems & Integration Inc., based in Mississauga, Ont., specializes in the design and manufacture of industrial marking systems, which is the process of adding serial numbers, product logos and other identifying marks to products through the use of technologies such as lasers, stylus marking machines, and electro-chemical etching.
THE CHALLENGE: Every job the company takes on is unique. “Each machine is tailored to the customer’s individual specifications,” says company president David Gibson. “So each one is a custom design.” Even though the company competes against much larger operations, his approach differs from that of the competition in that his sales presentations provide much more information.
THE STRATEGY: Although Gibson had used SolidWorks with a previous employer, when he founded Automation Systems, he decided to switch to the Solid Edge design solution from Siemens PLM Software. Gibson is completely self-taught on Solid Edge. “I thought it would be hard to switch (from SolidWorks), but Solid Edge’s functionality is better, and in general the program is better-organized,” he notes. He values the support he gets from his local Solid Edge reseller, Designfusion, as well as the Siemens technical support, Global Technical Access Center (GTAC). “Support is my safety belt and it is well worth the investment,” he says. “Customers with one seat of Solid Edge get the support just as if they had 100 seats.”
THE RESULTS: Gibson gives Solid Edge much of the credit for Automation Systems’ ability to win $2.5 million worth of business in the last three years. And big orders keep coming in. But in the meantime, Gibson keeps doing what works, which is to create winning sales presentations based on Solid Edge 3D assembly models. “In the quotation stage, others give a rough outline of the machine and the cost,” he says. “With Solid Edge, I’m able to present a deep level of detail. Prospective customers can see what the machine is going to do and how it will fit into their process. I can even give them the virtual viewer and send them my 3D file. They can rotate it, zoom in on areas, and so on. It’s very effective. With Solid Edge, I present a level of professionalism that I need to contend against big companies,” says Gibson. “Image is everything, and the 3D visualizations I create with Solid Edge allow me to present a very good image.”


Design firm delivers electric truck on time
Toronto-based Inertia Engineering + Design Inc. (IE+D) is a supplier of fast-tracked, streamlined product design and engineering services to the automotive, motor sports, and manufacturing industries.
THE CHALLENGE: The company needed a tightly integrated 3D development platform, including integrated analysis and PDM capabilities, to facilitate collaboration, the handling of product data, and project management. “Our business model and competitive advantage are based on doing away with the cumbersome design data communication and management issues of the past, which enables us to deploy our engineering expertise more efficiently,” says company founder Ray Minato.
THE STRATEGY: IE+D chose SolidWorks Office Professional 3D CAD software, COSMOSWorks Professional analysis software, and the PDMWorks Enterprise PDM system.
THE RESULTS: IE+D’s first project that involved utilizing PDMWorks Enterprise was the development of a zero-emissions delivery truck for Unicell, a leading truck body design and manufacturing company. For end customer Purolator Courier Ltd., Canada’s leading overnight courier, Unicell developed the QuickSider – an all-electric, lightweight composite urban delivery vehicle – in partnership with ArvinMeritor, the world’s largest truck suspension company, and with several design consultants. “We knew that doing this project without a centralized PDM system – relying on FTP, date-coding of all drawings, file conversions, and data translations – could become a nightmare in terms of revision control,” says Minato. “So we worked with Javelin Technologies, our SolidWorks reseller, to implement a web-enabled version of PDMWorks Enterprise software to tie everything together.” By implementing PDMWorks Enterprise on the QuickSider project, IE+D shortened the development cycle by 30 to 40 percent, streamlined project communication and management, reduced the potential for design errors through automated revision control, and accelerated delivery of an industry innovation. “Our PDMWorks vault included documentation, design specifications, open-issue lists, status reports, and project timelines, as well as CAD files, analysis results, and revision control manuals and procedures.The streamlined, automated approach to data management and revision control on the QuickSider project really opened my eyes to the power of PDMWorks,” Minato stresses. “We are using it to collaborate and communicate with clients outside of Toronto, setting up customer folders so they can access project data any time they want with a simple web browser.”


ERP improves speed and accuracy of sales
Dupar Controls Inc. (a subsidiary of the Dewhurst Group), headquartered in Cambridge, Ont., is a manufacturer and supplier of components for the elevator and ATM industries.
THE CHALLENGE: To improve the speed and accuracy of the sales order process for highly customizable products in a complex manufacturing environment. Three years ago the Dewhurst Group, and Dupar Controls with it, outgrew its largely ad hoc business platforms. After looking at a variety of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, Dewhurst made the move to SYSPRO. “Before that,” says George Foleanu, Dupar’s Manager of IT & Engineering, “we ran the business on various ERP systems, some of them off-the-shelf. In general, we needed a more reliable platform, with more technologically advanced programs that would allow us to control our manufacturing environment, as well as control our costs more accurately.” Specifically, says Foleanu, the challenge was to improve both the time and accuracy of processing sales orders for highly customized products. “We’re in the custom design and manufacturing business. Our huge variety of components compounds the complexity of our processes, and every product we create is essentially new. Before implementing SYSPRO, we literally had to sit down at the computer, look at a drawing, and create a Bill of Materials. Processing a job took up to eight hours.”
THE STRATEGY: With Dupar’s CAD program integrated to SYSPRO, the sales order process is much simpler, and many times faster. “All we have to do now,” says Foleanu, “is click a button to import the Bill of Material (BOM) data from AutoCAD to SYSPRO. After that, we go into the Quotations module in SYSPRO and find the already created quote, which contains the line items and their respective BOM’s. From there we pick the customer the order is meant for and update the selling prices on every line. SYSPRO converts the quotes to a sales order, then prints the order acknowledgement and the factory documentation.” One of the reasons SYSPRO is right for Dupar, says Foleanu, is its out-of-the-box performance. “We didn’t want to reinvent a computer system. We wanted some flexibility and control, but if we had too much latitude we might end up breaking it. We also appreciate the fact that SYSPRO supports Microsoft .NET, which itself has great advantages.”
THE RESULTS: “Since implementing SYSPRO, we can process even the most complex job in about fifteen minutes,” says Foleanu. “To tell you the truth, with SYSPRO it takes longer to print the paper, collate it and send it to the shop, than it does to create the sales order, related work orders and purchase orders. The result of integrating our systems with SYSPRO has been a net savings in time. That’s allowed us to channel our employee’s intelligence and strength in other directions. Our inventory accuracy has improved; we’ve reduced costs, and been able to get product to our customers in a more timely fashion.”


Fire safety manufacturer locks in future growth
Sidelco Inc. has been manufacturing, distributing and servicing fire detection products in North America since 1977. Over the years, Sidelco has expanded its business to deliver advanced security, fire alarm and access control systems for public, commercial and industrial buildings. In 2006, Sidelco was acquired by Siemens, and now has 60 employees in three locations in Quebec.
THE CHALLENGE: Since the 1980s, Sidelco relied on disparate systems to manage its business processes, which proved to be inefficient as its business grew. For instance, its order management process was hindered by the need to manually transfer data between key systems. Sales and accounting personnel did not have ready access to complete and up-to-date information on customer orders. To sustain profitable growth and continue delivering products with the highest level of performance and reliability, Sidelco needed to align its information technology systems with its long-term business strategy.
THE STRATEGY: Sidelco replaced its legacy systems with the SAP Business One application to integrate business processes and standardize record keeping across departments to better manage customer relationships. Working with N’ware Technologies, an SAP partner, Sidelco quickly deployed the software with minimal user training and without business disruption.
THE RESULTS: Using SAP Business One, Sidelco has fully automated and integrated its business processes, including accounting and financials, production and inventory planning, sales, and customer and vendor management – leading to increased efficiency and enhanced visibility across its operations.
By consolidating records into one system, Sidelco has eliminated the need for duplicate data entry, reducing errors and delays. The process from sales quote to billing statement now takes place in one unbroken chain. With all business information stored in one place, users in every department can access the right information they need quickly via Microsoft Excel-based reports and dashboards. SAP Business One has enabled Sidelco to better monitor work-in-progress, improve decision-making and optimize new sales opportunities. The software has also provided Sidelco with the capability to automatically set customer prices to reflect changes in costs along its supply chain. “It now takes 75 per cent less effort for us to carry out the same processes,” says Renault Jacques, systems administrator for Sidelco. “The integrated solution meets all our requirements and provides us with a flexible and scalable platform to drive and support Sidelco’s growth.” Within two years of implementing SAP Business One, Sidelco has more than tripled its revenues.


Aerospace company improves collaboration
Bombardier Aerospace is the third largest civil aircraft manufacturer in the world and a leading supplier of business, regional and amphibious aircraft.
THE CHALLENGE: Rapid market shifts often require that aircraft designs be quickly repurposed from one program or application to another. In this environment, changes need to ripple across the extended enterprise in real time so that everyone is working with the most current and accurate information. Engineers need to understand the reasons for and the impact of changes in order to perform cost-benefit analyses and drive right-first-time innovation. They also need to re-use parts and assemblies from other aircraft programs to jump-start projects, reducing cycle times and cost. Downstream processes such as manufacturing and after-sales require access to detailed design information so they can quickly analyze the impact of design changes on shop floor automation and design, as well as scheduling and allocation of global resources.
THE STRATEGY: Bombardier chose a multi-faceted solution to help enable its engineering team and meet the challenges for aircraft development. Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA V5 was selected as the centerpiece of new product definition methods in which the 3D model becomes the central source of all product information. ENOVIA VPLM extends the power of CATIA V5, and allows for Bombardier’s globally dispersed teams to collaborate anytime and anywhere, knowing that each contributor can easily access up-to-date product information. Bombardier Aerospace’s integrated product development teams also use DELMIA.
THE RESULTS: The implementation moved forward on a program-by-program basis at Bombardier Aerospace. Many of the early V5 PLM successes have come in the test integration department. As an example, the company’s Test Integration Group was able to rescale a wind tunnel model in two hours – instead of 40 – to accommodate an internal motor used to simulate engine flows. Using ENOVIA VPLM, the Bombardier Completion Center Montreal (BCCM), which manages design information used to provide luxurious custom interiors for Global Express business jets for customers, saw reductions of 80 per cent of the time required by BCCM personnel to locate data. Finally, Bombardier also realized cost savings by using DELMIA to simulate the manufacturing operations for a proposed new production facility. The simulations made it possible to reduce the size of the factory by 50 per cent compared to previous standards, providing potential savings estimated at US$9 million. Engineers also improved the productivity of the factory by using the virtual model to identify potential bottlenecks.


Chemical maker builds EAM system
At its plant in Montreal, Interquisa Canada manufactures purified terephthalic acid (PTA), a raw material for the manufacture of polyesters. The facility boasts an annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes of PTA.
THE CHALLENGE: A new plant construction process would put into place thousands of pieces of equipment that would naturally have no operational history on which to build a maintenance program and no human resources or contractor management methodology to manage maintenance work. Interquisa management would have to quickly design and implement a system that would keep the new plant running 24/7.
THE STRATEGY: Even as ground was broken for plant construction, a team from Interquisa and IFS partner GFI Solutions of Montreal implemented and began working to create an enterprise asset management (EAM) system using IFS Applications.
Interquisa and GFI were able to migrate data supplied by engineers, contractors and manufacturers of the pumps, compressors and centrifuges into the IFS EAM system.
THE RESULTS: The close integration of EAM and Human Resources systems within IFS Applications has allowed Interquisa’s 45-person maintenance staff to accomplish 97 per cent of all preventive maintenance work scheduled, all with limited use of contractors. The company has also been able to reduce its maintenance materials inventories. During times of peak maintenance demand, such as plant shutdowns with tight deadlines, contract labor is brought in to augment Interquisa’s own team, and they are scheduled in a very similar fashion in the HR and EAM modules. “Contractors are integrated into the system,” says Interquisa IT Manager Jean Trudeau. “We give them restricted access to IFS, but they are scheduled the same way as everybody else.” Tight integration between human resources and EAM allows managers to move employees from one internal division of the company to another. According to Trudeau, the factory is split into two sections, PA for the production of terephthalic acid, and PTA, where the acid is purified. “The flexibility of IFS Applications allows the planner to swap resources from one section to another seamlessly through the maintenance module, without going through HR,” says Interquisa Maintenance Team Leader Michel Longpré. “This allows us to instantly modify the distribution of workers during peak periods or for emergencies.”


Information flows in real-time for water company
Founded in 1970, Quatic Industries Inc. provides a wide range of water treatment products and services. A wholly-owned Canadian company with headquarters, plant and laboratory facilities in Guelph, Ont., Quatic operates two divisions: an industrial products division that blends and packages chemicals for the treatment of boiler systems and cooling towers, and a consumer products division that serves the swimming pool chemical market.
THE CHALLENGE: Quatic Industries was looking for a means of managing their ISO 9001 compliance. They needed a solution that was able to adhere to their internal work- flow requirements to manage a variety of processes, including corrective and preventative actions, non-conformances and opportunities for improvement (OFIs).
THE STRATEGY: The company decided to implement Exact e-Synergy, a Web-based business management solution that seamlessly integrates with Exact Macola ERP on the backend. Specifically, e-Synergy’s workflow and document management capabilities would enable the company to better manage non-transactional processes, such as contract and customer relationship management (CRM), that are critical requirements of ISO 9001.
THE RESULTS: Through their use of Exact e-Synergy, Quatic Industries has been able to provide employees access to insight and data they didn’t have before, while providing management with complete assurance that everyone is working off the right versions of policies, procedures and other important documentation. e-Synergy’s powerful workflow engine automatically directs tasks to the appropriate people within the organization, providing a “closed loop” system to successfully move all processes along to completion. As a result, the company has been able to significantly streamline its processes – a benefit to Quatic’s employees and its external ISO auditors. “When corrective actions were paper-based, the process was a nightmare, and people literally dreaded seeing the forms on their desk,” says Terry Leis, vice president of finance and co-owner of Quatic. “With workflow, these processes are much more efficient. Moreover, because the entire workflow history is available within e-Synergy, we have achieved greater visibility and accountability throughout the organization.” By integrating e-Synergy with Macola ERP, Quatic has consolidated corporate data into a single database, enabling employees throughout the company to access information in real-time via the Web. This is a critical requirement, as a significant portion of the company’s sales and service staff work remotely. “The solution gives employees access to insight and data they didn’t have before, while providing us with complete assurance that everyone is working off the right versions of policies, procedures and other important documentation,” says Leis.


PLM software helps bring innovative car to market
The Company:
ZENN (Zero Emissions, No Noise) Motor Company is a Quebec-based developer, manufacturer and supplier of innovative zero-emission electric vehicles. The car is equipped with front-wheel drive, rapid acceleration and can keep pace with traffic on local streets, with its regulated maximum speed of 40 km/h and a battery capacity that gives 56 kilometers per charge.
The Challenge: With a manufacturing facility in Quebec, Canada and major suppliers in both Europe and North America, ZMC needed a standardized Engineering Change Order (ECO) process and the ability to quickly and accurately share appropriate information with their key supply chain partners. In addition, the company needed to provide its engineering teams with product information at key times to fuel continued improvement to the product and drive cost improvements. Finally, regulations associated with bringing a car to market can be onerous. ZMC required a PLM solution to help them meet industry standards and compliance requirements.
The Strategy: After subscribing, a joint ZENN Motor Company/Arena Solutions team worked together to fully deploy a ZMC-customized version of Arena PLM in just five weeks.
The Results: The results of the deployment are tangible. ZMC engineering now has product-costing information earlier in the development cycle. This new visibility empowers the ZMC development team to reuse components and enables them to eliminate costly mistakes and with better visibility into Bill of Material (BOM) and part information ZMC expects to cut product costs five per cent. When a change is necessary, the ZMC team routes it for approval immediately. They can track change approvals and maintain an audit trail of them, whether internal to their organization or in their extended supply chain. Through automated routing and status notifications, ZMC expects to reduce ECO approval cycles by 65 per cent and by engaging suppliers in ZMC’s product development processes, the company expects to reduce inventory obsolescence, product costs, and improve supplier relations. “Arena PLM gives us the ability to manage a tremendous amount of product information, collaborate with our key suppliers, and comply with industry standard – all with extreme confidence – as we bring our game-changing ZENN vehicles to market,” says Michael Bergeron, Vice President, Engineering.


Software reduces design/build time one step at a time
The Company:
Ryan Foot Care of Etobicoke, Ont., Canada, is a second-generation company that provides a full gamut of services including surgical intervention, diabetic care, and biomechanics, and recently began manufacturing orthotics.
The Challenge: Using the traditional approach, which involves mold making and thermoforming, it takes about six hours to make a single orthotic device from start to finish. However, it is very inefficient to perform each of the many complicated operations on just a single device. The normal approach is to perform each operation on a batch of orthotics, which greatly improves the efficiency of each individual operation. However, this also increases the lead-time required to produce a device to about two weeks. The traditional approach to producing orthotics is heavily dependent upon highly skilled labor. “I learned how to build orthotics over a lifetime,” says James Ryan, President of Ryan Foot Care. “It’s very difficult to train a person to carve and shape casts.”
The Strategy: The company purchased the Delcam OrthoModel software along with a 4-axis machining center and a laser scanner. The new automated process at Ryan Foot Care begins with creating a digital image of the patient’s foot. If the patient comes directly to Ryan’s lab, then one of his technicians scans the patient’s foot with the laser scanner. If another doctor provides a physical model or impression, then the technician scans the negative cast to produce a 3D model of the foot. The technician then imports the geometry of the foot into OrthoModel software. “Delcam makes it possible for the user to define corrections in the orthotic device in the same terminology used by the doctor simply by filling in a form,” Ryan said. “This approach makes it possible for technicians without a great deal of experience to produce perfect designs.” The next step is nesting, which involves positioning the device onto the plastic plate from which it will be machined. The software keeps track of the amount of material remaining from any plates that have been partially cut, making it easy to get full use from each plate. The program then generates the toolpaths that will be used to produce the devices and shows the results.
The Results: “Delcam OrthoModel and PowerSHAPE software provide dramatic improvements over traditional methods for producing orthotic devices,” says Ryan. “They help reduce the time required to produce a single device from six hours to one hour and reduce the lead time required to produce a batch from two weeks to two days. The Delcam software also greatly reduces the amount of skilled labor required. The result is that only six months after we started our orthotics lab we are already producing 175 devices per month and growing at a rapid rate.”


Chemical manufacturer improves inventory accuracy with ERP
The Company:
Recochem is a privately-held, Canadian-based chemical formulating and packaging company. Its consumer division distributes chemical products from strategically located facilities in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Multiple distribution sites enable the company to efficiently ship identical products to any location coast-to-coast as well as south of the Canadian border. The company’s international division, with branches in the United States, Australia, and Belgium, manufactures and refines industrial and consumer chemicals.
The Challenge: Like many manufacturers, Recochem used manual processes to manage its warehouse and production data. As the company expanded, it realized a need to replace the labor-intensive, error-prone manual systems by standardizing on a company-wide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The company recognized it must consolidate information such as inventory, orders, and purchasing to improve inventory accuracy, delivery times, customer order fulfillment, and profit margins.
The Strategy: After reviewing two ERP systems, the company chose Infor ERP XA to drive its business practices. Recochem implemented multiple modules of Infor ERP XA, with functionality for advanced planning, inventory management, material requirement planning, purchasing, procurement, customer order management, production monitoring and control, product data management, and order-based production monitoring, among others. These capabilities enabled the company to standardize data and processes across its multi-national enterprise.
The Results: With the new Infor ERP XA system, the benefits were immediate. Gone were the days of searching endlessly through stacks of paper to determine if an order had been fulfilled. Customer order and inventory information was now available within three clicks of a mouse. The streamlined processes transformed Recochem’s business. Through process reviews, the company found that there was a significant level of redundant data checking, which was eradicated by the new software. Elimination of duplicate tasks allowed employees to use time to perform more tasks that are results-driven, boosting productivity. Overall, the company experienced a 50 per cent reduction in planning time and a 25 per cent increase in inventory accuracy. Further, shipping times improved, leading to increased customer satisfaction. An additional benefit was a reduction of paper waste, which supported Recochem’s commitment to being environmentally responsible.


Manufacturer measures improvement with inventory turns
The Company:
Established in 1981 in Waterloo Ont., Northern Digital Inc. (NDI) is a leading supplier of 3D/6D measurement products used in industries as diverse as image guided surgery, robotics, aeronautics and biomechanics. The company is a past winner of the Canada Export Award and the Global Traders Award. They are also ISO9001 registered.
The Challenge: NDI faced a challenge when rapid growth and aging technology threatened to stand in the way of company goals. Instead of enabling operational improvements, NDI’s existing systems were impeding progress. Existing technology was causing missed deliveries and creating a high number of back orders.
The Strategy: NDI’s selection of Intuitive ERP from Intuitive Manufacturing Systems was based on factors that directly supported corporate objectives. Intuitive ERP provided a level of system functionality that could immediately improve inventory management and the expandability and flexibility to support NDI’s growth. Equally important was the system’s level of ease of implementation and ease of use.
The Results: After implementing Intuitive ERP, Northern Digital has experienced continued success in improving inventory management and increasing revenue. Prior to implementation, the company struggled to achieve even two inventory turns per year. Inventory turns have now more than doubled and expectations are that the company will better that in the near future. Since implementation, Northern Digital’s revenue has increased from $10 million to over $20 million with little increase in inventory value. In addition, the company has reduced their order cycle time for their flagship product from four months to four weeks, an improvement of almost 80 per cent. With some customers expecting shipment in as much as nine months and others expecting shipment in as little as nine days or even less, more sophisticated and accurate planning has been critical. The addition of better planning capabilities had an immediate impact on labor and materials. “We were able to better understand what was in stock, what we were buying and what was needed,” says Tom Kane, NDI’s Production Manager. “Improved planning has made a huge difference in improving delivery.” Northern Digital was interested in upgrading their operations by leveraging Intuitive ERP’s standard functionality but also had some unique conditions that required modification of the system. With a relatively small IT staff, it was important that modification and customization could be done with limited resources. According to Robin Smith, Systems Administrator for Northern Digital, Intuitive ERP’s “ability to customize easily” made the implementation process go smoothly.


Wireless company speeds up development process
The Company:
Located in Markham, Ont., Redline Communications designs, manufactures and markets a large roster of carrier-class, standards-based wireless products.
The Challenge: With a large and geographically dispersed product development team, Redline Communications was searching for a software solution that would integrate all their bill of materials (BOMs), engineering change orders (ECOs) and part data into a single repository that could be easily and immediately accessible by everyone involved in the product development process.
The Strategy: After evaluating tools for product lifecycle management (PLM), Redline selected Omnify, which seamlessly integrated with Redline’s engineering environment, ORCAD Capture CIS, to further speed the product development process. The engineering team was linked to the Omnify database in less than a day without any disruption in development. The entire PLM solution was up and running in only two days. Omnify PLM is used on a daily basis by the engineering and operations departments at Redline and its local Contract Manufacturing and offshore Design partners. In developing new products and new parts, as well as customized solutions for client requests, Redline is able to manage the entire process, from request, to idea inception, to delivery of product, all in a single location via Omnify PLM.
The Results: Omnify has helped Redline improve the communication of engineering changes among all departments by documenting the events in a systematic manner. This has led to a decrease in their prototypes development cycle, which in turn has greatly improved their turnaround time, speeding time-to-market. Having their external partners leveraging the system has dramatically reduced the communication cycle. Omnify has enabled Redline to streamline its communications with its design center in Romania through a single system. They can sign-off on ECOs and BOMs online and Redline no longer has to update the replicated Access database at that site. This has saved an invaluable amount of time in addition to increasing the quality of data. “We achieved 100 per cent return on investment from Omnify in the first year and we expect our return to be even greater in the future”, says Jim Dickerman, Vice President, Engineering at Redline. Omnify enables Redline Communications’ engineers and extended support team to bring products to market more quickly, reduce rework and meet customer demand. The streamlined processes created by Omnify PLM free the engineering staff to continuously focus on creating innovative broadband and wireless products.


Visualization software streamlines engineering change control process
The Company:
With over 9,600 employees operating in 32 countries, and revenues that amount to nearly US$2.8 billion, Smith & Nephew designs and manufactures advanced medical devices in the fields of arthroscopy and advanced wound management.
The Challenge: The global manufacturing activities of the orthopedic units required a visualization solution that would allow engineering and manufacturing teams across the globe to easily access, view and review documents and drawings. Most importantly, because the medical devices industry is highly regulated, Smith & Nephew needed a robust solution that would complement and streamline its engineering change control process, assist with compliance of regulatory bodies, and improve the company’s product time-to-market and competitiveness.
The Strategy: Smith & Nephew considered several solutions for its visualization and collaboration needs, but only Oracle’s AutoVue 3D Electro-Mechanical Professional offered the necessary integration with the PLM environment. “On top of delivering native document viewing and supporting a comprehensive range of document types, AutoVue was the only visualization solution that offered a reliable integration with our PLM solution,” says Randall Reavis, manager of CAE at Smith & Nephew in Memphis, Tenn. “It was essential for our global design manufacturing strategy that the PLM and the visualization solution work together. AutoVue was the perfect fit.”
The Results: Collaboration is enhanced, and engineering changes are communicated in a faster and more thorough fashion, improving operational efficiency and cutting days from the review cycle. “Medical devices today are very complex,” says Reavis. “Design processes incorporate a broader array of contributors and stakeholders. The combined use of AutoVue and our PLM solution helps us collaborate on native documents faster and more effectively, minimize engineering changes, and do the right thing the first time.” AutoVue also helps Smith & Nephew better comply with strict regulatory requirements, and reduce the time spent by employees in meeting these requirements. Reavis explains that the advantages of using AutoVue for regulatory compliance are threefold. First, AutoVue respects the PLM system’s permission settings, ensuring that only authorized users have access to documents. Second, authorized users can create markups and annotations, which enable teams to document and track engineering changes, ensuring traceability across the board and reducing audit time. Third, AutoVue automates the extraction and inclusion of metadata onto printed documents. Information such as when a document was produced, its expiration date, status, etc. are captured by AutoVue in the headers, footers and watermarks of printed documents, allowing Smith and Nephew to comply with strict government regulations.


Application optimizes power purchases for paper mills
The Company:
Montreal-based Abitibi Consolidated, Inc. is the world’s largest producer of newsprint and value-added paper. The company maintains approximately 16,000 employees worldwide, deployed in 27 paper mills, 21 sawmills, three remanufacturing and one engineered wood facilities and 10 paper recycling centres.
The Challenge: To create a system for monitoring electric power usage at its five Ontario paper mills, enabling response to internal and external factors on a timely basis to reduce the cost of power following market deregulation in the province.
The Strategy: The PI System from OSIsoft provided a centralized archive for real-time production data that can be shared easily with other corporate applications, as well as linked to external data sources for optimizing electric power utilization.
The Results: The company saved millions of dollars – first by creating its own in-house energy management application for only CDN$77,000 rather than spending $3 million for an off-the-shelf solution; second, by giving management an effective tool to proactively optimize production around market conditions. The second approach yielded a $1 million reduction in electricity costs in its first year alone and saved the company an estimated $450,000 per year for support and maintenance. The entire solution was created and deployed in less than six months. Abitibi’s philosophy from the beginning has been that an energy management system doesn’t replace human involvement in the decision-making process. It simply provides the information to facilitate real-time business decisions. A system doesn’t tell managers what to do, but rather provides them with the information necessary to make their own timely decisions. Also, mistakes can be reduced or eliminated. The system provides pricing and mills integrate that into their local business rules. Different mills will have their own respective strategies depending on paper grade, the money they make on it, and other factors – but management now has complete control over how it responds and how quickly. “This new tool enables the five Ontario mills to manage their electricity consumption and save an estimated $1 million per year. In addition, the system can be adapted for the company’s other mills in the short term with minimum modifications,” says Jean-Guy Trudel, Abitibi Consolidated Vice President, Newsprint.


CAD software fits design firms needs to a T
The Company:
QFD Consultants Inc. is a product development and custom training company, founded in Vancouver in 1997, with offices in Seattle and New York City.
The Challenge: When Microsoft engineers needed help getting its new ergonomic keyboard to market, the global giant turned to QFD. Designed with the goal of helping alleviate hand and wrist fatigue by encouraging a more natural typing posture, the keyboard had to be as beautiful as it was functional. QFD was charged with combining hard-and-fast usability requirements and an ultra-cool look into a mathematically precise and manufacturable design – all on a tight schedule.
The Strategy: When it came to developing the layout of the individual keys, Pro/ENGINEER allowed QFD designers to quickly manipulate huge amounts of engineering data. As well, Pro/ENGINEER Interactive Surface Design Extension (ISDX) offered the fine level of control the QFD team needed for high quality surface modeling. And, with the ability to see design changes being made on-the-fly, the approval process – and the project itself – ran much faster.
The Results: “We encountered the usual delays from design changes throughout the development process,” says Peter Newbury, QFD Principal, “but even in the fast paced environment, Pro/ENGINEER ISDX module enabled us to capture design changes in time for weekly prototype deadlines.” The accelerated modeling process facilitated a reduction in the number of prototypes required to ensure that both ergonomics and design were both satisfied. In fact, Newbury estimates that Pro/ENGINEER ISDX alone saved a week of development time and nearly $10,000 in prototype machining costs. Another excellent way to keep that cost down is to reduce expensive down-stream corrections. A 15- minute design change early in the modeling process can equate to a $100,000 tooling change when the product is on the manufacturing line. “Getting accurate 3D data in front of the industrial designers and mechanical engineers as fast as we could was a primary goal.” To accommodate the fast-paced changes the project demanded, QFD relied on Pro/ENGINEER. “The faster you can turn ideas into usable 3D data, the more time you can spend refining the design,” states Newbury. “The capability to create a stable and reliable model let us spend more effort on getting details into earlier CNC models.”

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