Global engineering collaboration helps win business
Sept. 29, 2014 - The Company: Iggesund Tools is a tooling company with a proud heritage spanning more than 300 years. Today, its core business is the design and production of specialized tooling for the forest products industry. In each of the sectors it serves — debarking, lumber production, chipping technology and chip analysis — Iggesund Tools is recognized as a world leader.
The company’s TurnKnife Systems for chipping and lumber production, its ScanChip Analyzer, its debarking systems and PartnerChip, and its service options have kept it on the cutting edge of the lumber and pulp and paper industries.
The Challenge: Competition in this arena is keen, driving down lead times for all involved.
“Some of the original equipment manufacturers are delivering machines with very short lead times, so for us to stay in the game, we must be able to deliver our tooling at an even faster rate than they can deliver the machine,” explains Ian Zinniger, engineering manager for Iggesund Tools’ Canadian operation. “For us, the possibility of getting an order is often driven by how quickly we can deliver. These days, this is as important as the technical merits of the solution.”
Iggesund Tools is a global business. Headquartered in Iggesund, Sweden, the company also has North American operations in Laval, Que., and Oldsmar, Fla. Engineering is done at all three sites, while production takes place principally in Sweden. In the past, the three engineering sites primarily worked independently. In fact, at times each site designed its own version of the same part. Although this was inefficient, it was safer to work that way because the company had limited centralized data management.
“You couldn’t be sure, if you wanted to use a part designed somewhere else, that it wouldn’t be changed later on without your knowledge,” explains Zinniger.
There was a similar problem sending data from the three engineering sites to the production facilities. Without good product data management (PDM) functionality, it was difficult to ensure that production worked with the latest revisions of the data. In addition to the possibility of working with out-of-date information, there was a great deal of administrative overhead devoted to controlling engineering data. The need to handle product data more efficiently, and ultimately to drive down cycle times, led management to consider a PDM software solution.
The Strategy: The need for PDM coincided with the demise of Iggesund Tools’ previous CAD/CAM software. In searching for a new solution, the company knew exactly what it wanted.
“We required robust, integrated design and manufacturing functionality,” says Zinniger. “But we also wanted that functionality to be integrated with PDM, which was seen as being crucial long-term for our success.”
After evaluating the available options, Iggesund Tools found that NX and Teamcenter software from Siemens best met these criteria, delivering a managed development environment capable of handling the complexity of the company’s designs, along with powerful data control.
The Results: From the design perspective, the company has seen many advantages to working in NX.
“With NX, we gained a considerable amount of functionality that has been extremely helpful in cutting design and development time,” says Zinniger.
Because the previous system was a surface-based modeller, engineers weren’t able to do interference checking on the digital data. With NX, they can now do that.
The main advantage, however, has been the ability to automate routine product design, which includes tasks such as modelling, drawing creation, engineering checks and implementation of engineering changes, all the way through to release.
“In the past, routine product design could take up to two to three weeks,” says Zinniger. “Today, using the knowledge capture and automation capabilities within NX, it can often be reduced to two to three days.”
Zinniger has run the numbers and reports a consistent two- to three-fold decrease in cycle time since the Canadian operation started doing routine design in NX. The time saved is not the only value, however.
“You can put know-how into the automation tools, and that cuts down on the training of designers,” Zinniger adds. “This is especially important when you have multiple sites and you have to teach design methods and standards across different continents, languages and cultures. Creating these automation tools in NX and then sharing them is much more efficient.”
Teamcenter delivered the multi-site data control Iggesund Tools was looking for from a PDM system.
“We can move data between sites with the confidence that up-to-date versions are always being used,” Zinniger says.
One important outcome of this is an ability to better leverage the work of the three engineering groups.
“In the past, one site didn’t take advantage of existing components designed by another site because they couldn’t be sure they wouldn’t be changed without their knowledge. Teamcenter gives you confidence that you can freely make use of components that are not owned and controlled by your site. They are being controlled by Teamcenter,” he explains.
Production is experiencing the result of this, no longer seeing the same component being manufactured under multiple control numbers.
There are other benefits to Teamcenter as well. One is the ability to instantly search the data vault to determine where a component is used.
“If we want to change a piece of equipment, this capability makes it much easier to evaluate the implications of the change because we can see every instance where that part is used,” says Zinniger.
Also, the company often services existing installations that were done earlier in the product cycle. With Teamcenter’s product structure editor, they can retrieve the exact configuration of any product with a few mouse clicks.
“We use this in the case of troubleshooting or reviewing a change to that piece of equipment. It’s a capability we did not have previously, and it saves a great deal of time,” he adds.
“A goal from highest levels of Iggesund Tools is to reduce delivery times on routine products,” Zinniger concludes. “The use of NX and Teamcenter has allowed us to shave a week or more off of our delivery times compared to what we had in the past for our Canadian customers. And this is happening even though our products are now much more complex and advanced.”
This is a longer version of a case study that originally ran in the September issue's Automation Software Case Study Guide.
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