The Challenge: JSP's major challenges include: global competition; the need to provide products that are innovative and leading edge; and the desire to improve client presentations and services.
"We migrated to 3D design in the late 1990s when we were using Autodesk Inventor software," recalls Pierre Perreault, the company's president and son of the founder. "In 2003, we started managing our business with ProdManager, enterprise resource planning software developed by SPI Software/20-20 Technologies. The ERP system is targeted at secondary wood processing programs that communicate with parametric modelling and 2D and 3D drafting software for furniture applications. However, this software combination has limitations that make its operation relatively complex. Modifications are difficult, especially when a part is used in many pieces of furniture. Collision control is non-existent; plan processing is long and tedious; and finely detailed plans are difficult to understand."
"Moreover," states Perreault, "20-20 Technologies provided an offer that was not aligned with our needs, since it fundamentally centred on design and support for mass-produced kitchen furniture layouts, while we were heading toward on-demand custom furniture manufacturing." He adds, "Parametric modelling proved to be extremely difficult to manage, and formulas had to be introduced. That's why in the summer of 2008, we chose a synchronous technology-based CAD solution, Solid Edge, which is much simpler to use and perfectly suited to our activities."
The Strategy: "Designfusion, a partner of Siemens PLM Software, presented us with Solid Edge with synchronous technology," explains Perreault. "We were impressed with the demonstration. We received one half day of training so that we could operate and test Solid Edge during a 30-day trial. The procurement stage started in the fall of 2008 and ended when we integrated the software in February 2009."
Perreault points out that Solid Edge software from Siemens PLM Software is especially adept in handling changes.
"We needed software that can quickly and easily handle modifications," he says. "Changes, in fact, are commonly requested during our on-demand projects for the hospitality industry. Solid Edge with synchronous technology has proven to be very powerful here. The ability to handle changes, in fact, is what led us to adopt Solid Edge."
JSP has three Solid Edge licences. Workstations with Solid Edge viewers are installed for the plant manager, the engineers and the workshop foremen. This setup allows projects to be viewed in 3D throughout the entire design-build-assembly process.
"Emphasis was put on increasing productivity in the Technical Drawing Department during the implementation of Solid Edge," says Frédéric Ménagé, project co-ordinator at Designfusion. "For example, hardware parts can be quickly chosen, and inserted with their associated crosscuts and predefined assembly relations. The interface of ProdManager was duplicated from features and functionalities in the previous interface, which enabled users to continue to transfer data to the ERP system as they did before. The interface was even improved to better guide the user and minimize errors. Finally, synchronous technology was implemented with easily resized assemblies using predefined PMI views."
The Results: Using Solid Edge with synchronous technology, JSP significantly increased its design productivity.
"This is far from immaterial in our climate of global financial crisis," says Perreault. "This is a period characterized by delayed decision-making and late issuance of letters of credit. One can say that being more productive, creating designs faster and presenting a project sooner to the customer are all key elements that benefit JSP. Our customers receive, in PDF file format, highly lifelike colour renderings of the future rooms, and this admittedly promotes decision making. We consider this a key asset of Solid Edge. Moreover, the commercial gains are self-evident. Relative risks are lowered mainly because of the 'search interference' feature of Solid Edge, which wasn't available in our previous CAD solution. It is also essential that the initial design, up to the rendering stage (that was done prior to the order), can be used to create detailed manufacturing plans."
Louis Fournier, an account manager at Designfusion, feels that one of the strongest benefits of Solid Edge is a dramatically improved engineering change process. He notes, "Changes in Solid Edge are immediately reflected and automatically forwarded to other business, planning and production applications. This truly accelerates turnaround."
When the design process is complete - that is, when a realistic rendering of the furniture has been created with Solid Edge and the design has been approved by the customer - then the furniture parts list is transferred directly to the ProdManager ERP software. The furniture parts list includes hinges, drawer slides and other necessary hardware for the furniture assembly. The transfer enables initiating immediate and automatic procurement of materials and accessories, preparation and planning of production on the various automated machines in the shop, and updates to the plans.
Perreault points out, "In the past, without the integration of CAD and ERP, once the rendering had been obtained, which is a necessary, preliminary stage to the closing of the sale, we had to restart the entire design process in order to determine our needs with regard to materials and components. We owe this breakthrough to Designfusion and the ease in which Solid Edge with synchronous technology can be integrated with other technologies." Perreault adds, "Designfusion trained three JSP employees to rapidly implement the software and use its design and rendering functionality. The company also provided after-sales services that were invaluable in achieving such a fast and successful adaptation of new technology."
"Using Solid Edge, JSP has cut production lead time by up to 50 percent," says Perreault. "Time to complete a typical hotel room furnishing project has been reduced from 10 days to two days. Improved design efficiencies have resulted in reduced project risks and overall operational costs have been measurably decreased. Just as important, product quality continues to improve and we are delivering exemplary creativity and innovation across our product lines."
With Solid Edge, particularly its visualization capabilities that enable lifelike colour renderings of furnished rooms, customer presentations and collaboration have improved. JSP's sales force is now starting to use Solid Edge viewers on laptops. The sales representatives can present detailed projects to their clients.
A version of this case study ran as part of the 2011 Software Case Study Guide in the September 2011 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.