January 31, 2011 — Over the last two years there has been a fundamental shift in the way engineers are designing products. The need for lower product costs and faster time to market has placed a great deal of demand on product designers to work faster and smarter to produce designs that are more easily, quickly and cost-effectively manufactured.
As a result, most manufacturers have adopted a PLM strategy centered on an integrated product model that incorporates manufacturing data. While the rationale is based on collaboration, a chasm continues to exist between Engineering and Procurement. Fortunately, by making data available to all engineers earlier in the product lifecycle, 3D part catalog technology can serve to help bridge this gap.
The Value of Value-added Design
3D part catalog management solutions provide product designers and engineers with direct access to catalog and custom parts directly from within their design (CAD) environment. Repurposing components — regardless of the CAD system or version — has a profound impact on time to market and on total product costs.
What's more, the ability to leverage design data across the extended enterprise brings together design engineers, manufacturing engineers, maintenance engineers and non-engineering personnel, as well as the departments that manage material requirements.
In other words, the ability to deliver standard parts in any native CAD format or version allows a single standard part catalog to support multiple product programs within a company, which may be using different CAD systems or different versions of the same CAD system. This avoids having to create duplicate libraries of standard parts in different CAD formats and reduces the amount of management required to maintain standard parts. It also eliminates the migration and translation of standard parts data with each update to CAD or PLM solutions.
In fact, 3D part catalog management complements PLM by enabling parts or commodity reuse. By enabling configuration of 3D parts in native CAD formats within a larger PLM context, it also allows designers the confidence to find, reuse and control standard parts more effectively. The reuse provided by CAD-native 3D part catalogs can be expected to reduce both IT management costs and overall product costs, including design, manufacturing and support costs.
The ability to accomplish "value-added" design, rather than "non-valued design," eliminates the need for designers to model purchased parts that their supplier should provide accurately and up to date.
According to PLM consultancy CIMdata, Inc., there are many ways that companies can benefit from using 3D part catalog management in the product development process. The business value enhancement includes opportunities to:
- Avoid rework
- Improve quality
- Improve product design
- Support faster design
- Shorten time-to-production
- Value-added design versus non-value-added design
Bridging the Gap between Engineering and Procurement
Even with a 3D part catalog in place, Engineering still may not know which parts are preferred, leading designers to specify duplicate components in their designs that are not approved by Procurement or that are introduced in a way such that they become new components (in other words, new part numbers) that have to be sourced. The net result is an increase in direct material spending, adding not only to the cost of product development, but ultimately to the overall cost of goods sold (COGS) for the business.