Most organisations are under pressure to improve quality, refine processes and reduce non-value added activities, whilst concurrently improving their product life cycles to reduce time to task completion. Modern business demands increasingly higher returns on investment, higher efficiencies and improved levels of customer service, or put plainly more output for the same (or less) manual input. Automating CAD/PLM data exchange processes is a tried and tested way to accomplish this. Automation will help save a significant number of operator hours on data exchange tasks, whilst eradicating the human error element from the process and improving the visibility of any work-flow issues.
Automation has always been a key component in reducing costs in manufacturing environments and efforts to reduce labour costs and improve quality are in evidence since the invention of the mechanical printing press and steam powered cotton mills. By the end of the 20th century pick and place robotics and CNC machining centres were dominating the automation landscape. Fast forward to 2014 and a new network-enabled automation revolution is emerging, in the form of process automation and data exchange is the perfect process to automate providing the system is sophisticated and robust.
Departmental pressures to spread budgets further and to conform to stringent quality control procedures and IT security systems, whilst exchanging more data with external suppliers is becoming a real challenge. Throw into the mix a constant flow of data exchange between internal departments, external suppliers using multiple CAD systems and the benefits of automating the distribution, validation and exchange of data is clear to see.
As its name suggests an exchange automation system helps to manage, track and automate the process involved in the two-way exchange of data; whether it is the publication of translated CAD data, bills of materials or PLM support information. It faithfully adheres to pre-determined procedures thus improving conformance, traceability and efficiencies.
Costs can be slashed by using an enterprise-wide solution such as Theorem Process Manager (TPM) to manage the exchange of data, translate/convert files, validate, send, log and trace all data transactions. Further savings can be made by optimising the use of existing hardware and software licenses by leveraging the power of scheduling or batching data exchanges. This leaves CAD/engineering teams more time to devote to problem solving and innovation and less pressure to complete repetitive tasks.
TPM and associated data exchange products are the perfect cost-cutting tools for CAD-rich environments as they achieve huge reductions when controlling the management and validation of CAD data exchanges. Data exchange automation improves efficiency when working with teams and external suppliers during the product life cycle process. It is also an essential tool for the successful, cost effective completion of large projects involving migration from legacy CAD systems to newer generation versions with improved functionality. “When implemented strategically for controlling and managing data exchange across high-end CAD systems and legacy migration projects, the data exchange automation system is the perfect cost-reduction tool for reducing operator-hours/manual input. In some cases, by as much as 75%” said Steve Bee, Product Manager of Theorem Solutions.
“It helps to eliminate manual intervention and monitoring and enables companies to maximise their investments in software and hardware resources by allowing batch processing of time-intensive tasks to be undertaken after normal working hours, when computers are usually idle”.
With data exchange automation, operators no longer have to go into each individual CAD application and translate it. Alternatively, the jobs can be batched and handled in one simple operation, greatly reducing translation times and releasing key personnel to perform other essential PLM tasks. The batch process capabilities are comprehensive and simple to use. An operator simply identifies any number of files that need to be translated and with a ‘drag and drop’ command submits them to the process.
Data exchange automation has been proven to save hundreds of man hours in large scale projects. The integrity of data during the exchange process is protected by automatically emulating any of the actions that an operator would take in response to any given circumstances in the translation/validation process. Exception reports and audit trails are generated automatically.