Leveraging 3D CAD tools to establish a seamless product data-sharing environment

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: Industrial Machinery and Heavy Equipment

Using Solid Edge XaaS, we can efficiently check and modify product designs before we enter the manufacturing stage, which significantly reduces overall process time.

Lee Chang-woo, CEO

Developing robotics and AI technology solutions

Robogates develops and supplies robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technology solutions to customers in industries such as smart factories, smart farming and warehouse automation. Robogates has an AI Robot Technology Research Center to help designers study and develop robot and AI-related research. Robogates is expanding its operations not only in South Korea but also in foreign markets like Japan, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and India.

Combating increasing production costs

Since Robogates is a small and medium-sized business (SMB), it must develop and sell various robot products such as AI robots and collaborative robots in small quantities, often with short delivery times. Since one designer is in charge of a product project from concept to production design, the designer’s workload has become a big problem. The company was using a 2D computer-aided design (CAD) tool and the designer could not keep up with the work-flow demands. Robogates was looking for a solution to this problem and started using Solid Edge® XaaS software to streamline the product development process. Solid Edge XaaS is part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software, hardware and services.

Since it was impossible to develop the product in three dimensions with the previous design tools they used, the company could not determine whether interference or parts could be assembled during actual production. Due to this, frequent design changes occurred, resulting in delayed product shipment and deteriorating quality. Robogates repeated these design changes until it could ship the goods as perfect products, resulting in major unexpected losses, such as increased costs and workload due to repetitive manufacturing.

Since product design errors were only discovered at the production stage, product shipments were often delayed. In the previous environment, there was no choice but to evaluate the quality based on the experience of skilled workers and the product results that were completed.

Since there was no link between assembly drawings, part drawings and various lists, workers had to manually update them all or ignore them altogether. Even if designers had the latest version of the blueprint, this resulted in low accuracy. Designers had to spend a lot of time and effort on design work, such as front view, plan view, side view, hidden lines, construction lines and dimensioning. This prevented designers from investing time in improving product quality and over-coming these problems. Robogates began to reassess this process with Jikyung Solutec, a Siemens Expert Partner.null

Focusing on efficiency and productivity

Because a single designer is responsible for a product project from conceptual design to production design, the designer’s workload has always been a major issue. Robogates needed a 3D CAD solution that could be used to organically manage small quantities and varieties of product data during the entire process.

With Jikyung Solutec, Robogates first examined whether it could use Solid Edge XaaS to organically link 2D and 3D product data at each stage of development.

The Robogates team focused on how using Solid Edge XaaS could help them with design verification, design change, design time, efficiency and design data scalability. The designers anticipated that using Solid Edge XaaS would help them efficiently create 3D shapes, drawings, product properties, specifications and bill-of-materials (BOMs). They also hoped that they could use Solid Edge XaaS to remove design changes due to design errors and reduce unnecessary drawing work. They also expected to reduce the amount of ancillary work that could decrease product shipment time and significantly reduce related costs.

Robogates confirmed that using Solid Edge XaaS helped the team re-use existing 2D-based product data and modify products quickly with more freedom. Designers were also able to use innovative product design ideas by using synchronous technology. “Using Solid Edge XaaS, we can efficiently check and modify product designs before we enter the manufacturing stage, which significantly reduces overall process time,” says Lee Chang-woo, chief executive officer (CEO) for Robogates.

However, it was still difficult to introduce new solutions and change the existing process that employees were familiar with. To introduce this new software solution, each department went through lengthy discussions and implemented Solid Edge XaaS training for designers. The team also relied on success stories of similar companies and they highlighted many advantages of using Solid Edge XaaS. Using Solid Edge XaaS allowed designers to modify work faster and more easily, which ultimately sped up the design process tremendously.null

Benefits at every stage of production

As a result, Robogates used Solid Edge XaaS to develop collaborative robots for smart factory implementation and robot products for customers in warehouse automation. The company has improved productivity by using multiple BOMs, including robot product simulation and 3D shape information. This helped the designers share product data using the new data flow system, that delivered accurate product information to product processing and and manufacturing processes and also improved the re-use rate of product data.

Using Solid Edge XaaS product data management helped make collaboration between departments more seamless. Now, when there is a request related to product analysis, designers use the Solid Edge XaaS simulation to obtain the product analysis result.

By using Solid Edge XaaS, the designers performed assembly and interference checks between parts and the simulated product operation prior to actual production, which eliminated many problems. Even when Robogates deployed multiple robots in a customer’s smart factory, they were able to easily check interference during operation in advance.

Previously, the team had to produce prototypes for each product to identify problems or performance in actual operation, which was time-consuming and costly. Using Solid Edge XaaS to perform interference checks between parts and product operation simulation led to a reduction in product design errors, which enabled more complex mechanism design as well as reduced overall product production costs by 15 percent compared to the previous environment.

By using Solid Edge XaaS and the BOM input and output function, they produced accurate workorders, which was useful in the production and parts purchasing process.

Additionally, Robogates used Solid Edge XaaS to create complete 3D models for each robot product. Now the team can easily produce a driving simulation and actual images of robot products and create customer presentations and product promotional materials to use for the sellers, which also helped increase sales.

“In the robot product development stage, it is now possible to use Solid Edge XaaS to easily and quickly identify interference problems during complex operations that were difficult to grasp at a glance in the past,” says Chang-woo. “We can use Solid Edge XaaS to correct problems immediately during the product design stage.”null

In the robot product development stage, it is now possible to use Solid Edge XaaS to easily and quickly identify interference problems during complex operations that were difficult to grasp at a glance in the past. We can use Solid Edge XaaS to correct problems immediately during the product design stage.

Lee Chang-woo, CEO

Recreational vehicle manufacturer digitalizes concept of camper van

Product: Solid Edge, Teamcenter
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

Using PMI has turned deriving individual variants into configuration. It has reduced the time required by 65 percent.

Stefan Ziegler, Head of Industrialization R&D,

Freedom and comfort combined

Camping has been a popular outdoor recreational activity and a mode of accommodation for decades. In many countries, it is a substantial contributor to the tourism industry. The activity offers some of the most affordable lodging options. According to the Statista platform, about seven percent of all tourists visiting Germany in 2020 preferred camping over hotel accommodation. As the use of tents has significantly decreased over the past decades, recreational vehicles (RV) such as caravan trailers and motorhomes have become more popular. They provide campers with home-level comfort such as living areas, kitchen facilities and bathrooms.

Located in the spa town of Bad Waldsee in Southern Germany, Hymer GmbH & Co KG (Hymer) is among the pioneers of RVs. The company produced its first caravan trailer in 1957, followed by the first German motorhome in 1961. Hymer has become a household name emblematic for an entire vehicle category in Europe. The company is part of the Erwin Hymer Group and also designs and manufactures trailers under the Eriba brand. The Erwin Hymer Group belongs to the Thor Industries family of companies, uniting the vast majority of European and North American RV manufacturers.

Hymer has become an innovation and technology leader in the motorhome segment, combining innovation with Swabian virtues such as attention to detail and quality and made in Germany workmanship standards. “The five centimeters (two-inch) side walls combining aluminum skins on closed-cell PU provide insulation comparable to 80 centimeters (2 feet and 7 inches) of brick wall,” states Frank Heinrichsen, marketing manager at Hymer.Hymer engineers in all European locations use Solid Edge for CAD.

Hymer engineers in all European locations use Solid Edge for CAD.

Fully digitalized product creation

Hymer engineers designed the VisionVenture, a concept camper van, by weaving a digital thread along the entire product design process. As in all their designs, they created a comprehensive digital twin of the vehicle using software from the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software, hardware and services.

For computer-aided design (CAD), Hymer engineers in all European locations use Solid Edge® software. For VisionVenture, they imported models that an external industrial designer had created using NX™ software. “Solid Edge has a supportive user interface, so it is easy to learn; new colleagues only require minimal training,” says Stefan Ziegler, head of industrialization research and development (R&D) at Hymer. “At the same time, this 3D CAD software has everything we need to create a comprehensive digital twin of the vehicles, including powerful tubing capabilities.” In Hymer camper vans, fluid tubing and electrical harnesses play a key role. For designing and routing those, they rely on the Solid Edge Xpress Route 3D routing application.

The design engineers verify the structural integrity of our designs using finite element modeling (FEM) analyses. For everyday basic verifications, they use the capabilities of Solid Edge. More in-depth stress analyses are outsourced to The Team Technology (TTT), an automotive lightweight construction department in the Erwin Hymer group. They use Simcenter™ 3D software for FEM analyses. This two-stage verification process establishes a knowledge gain during the early phases of product design, reducing the number of physical prototypes required.The design engineers use the FEM capabilities of Solid Edge to verify the structural integrity of their designs for everyday basic verifications and outsource more in-depth stress analyses to a specialized internal department in EHG (The Team Technology; TTT) using Simcenter 3D.

The design engineers use the FEM capabilities of Solid Edge to verify the structural integrity of their designs for everyday basic verifications and outsource more in-depth stress analyses to a specialized internal department in EHG (The Team Technology; TTT) using Simcenter 3D.

Virtual prototyping

Hymer uses Teamcenter® software to build prototypes of their vehicles in virtual reality (VR). Teamcenter visualization concept capabilities are provided as an add-on to the Teamcenter lifecycle visualization suite. The caravan experts import the digital twin created using Solid Edge and build digital mockups of the entire vehicle or a part of it to detect and resolve issues.

Ergonomic design verification is vital and using VR gear is an easy way to reveal if the solutions designed are practical. “By using the digital mockup capabilities of Teamcenter visualization, we can identify and resolve issues before they become costly problems,” says Heinrichsen. “Virtual prototyping helped us reduce physical mockups and prototypes by 80 percent.”

Teamcenter VR uses the JT™ file format in viewing and analyzing 3D designs. Importing design data from Solid Edge does not require any data preparation or conversion because the geometry information is received in the JT data format.

Hymer engineers generally use the JT data format for all exchange of geometry data between different software products. For many purposes, most of the information carried in native CAD data is not required. In most cases, geometry information is all that is needed and historical data would merely be a ballast. “We do not need three days for data translation and cleansing anymore,” explains Ziegler. “Using the JT data format, we can import and consolidate geometry data in minutes versus days, even if they originate from different software systems.” This is frequently needed when bringing together Hymer’s mechanical and wire harness designs created using different software products in one model using Teamcenter Visualization.

Additionally, using JT for model data exchange does not require users to be equipped with CAD software to view 3D designs using the free JT2Go viewer. This eases collaboration with suppliers and external partners based on rich design data.Hymer engineers use Rapid Author for Teamcenter to create electronic instructions for assembly lines.

Hymer engineers use Rapid Author for Teamcenter to create electronic instructions for assembly lines.

One digital twin, many uses

Hymer engineers use Rapid Author for Teamcenter to create all documentation. They benefit from its work instruction component to create electronic instructions for assembly lines.

“Workers were enthusiastic about the dynamic assembly instructions using 3D models,” says Ziegler. “They particularly liked the ability to turn models to better see things often hidden in drawings.”

This also helped accelerate onboarding and training new employees in production. In engineering, Siemens’ solution partner ISAP AG supports Hymer with software training. For marketing and sales, Hymer engineers create life-like and often animated renderings. These are also based on 3D model data from Solid Edge in the JT data format.

These effects are even stronger if there is only one digital twin, even if a product comes in numerous variations, as Hymer caravans and motorhomes usually do. “Everything we create starts out as a 150 percent model that must be reduced to a 100 percent model to fit individual requirements,” says Heinrichsen. Hymer engineers have recently started enriching their models with product and manufacturing information (PMI). “Using PMI has turned deriving individual variants into configuration,” Ziegler confirms. “It has reduced the time required by 65 percent.”

Using the digital twin created in Solid Edge as the single source of truth for all these purposes enables all data to be bot ubiquitous and associative. This allowed Hymer to eliminate distributed information silos and some notorious sources of error associated with this data separation. Additionally, after modifications, everyone involved can immediately resume work on the basis of valid, up-to-date information.Hymer engineers create life-like and often animated renderings for sales and marketing based on 3D model data from Solid Edge.

Hymer engineers create life-like and often animated renderings for sales and marketing based on 3D model data from Solid Edge.Users that are not equipped with CAD software can view 3D designs by using the free JT2Go viewer. This eases collaboration with suppliers and external partners based on rich design data.

Users that are not equipped with CAD software can view 3D designs by using the free JT2Go viewer. This eases collaboration with suppliers and external partners based on rich design data.Hymer reduced physical mockups and prototypes by 80 percent by using the digital mockup capabilities of Teamcenter Visualization for design verification.

Hymer reduced physical mockups and prototypes by 80 percent by using the digital mockup capabilities of Teamcenter Visualization for design verification.

Virtual prototyping helped us reduce physical mockups and prototypes by 80 percent.

Frank Heinrichsen, Marketing Manager,

Using advanced technical features and flexible software licensing to rapidly scale up from a startup

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

Developing fresh, disruptive solutions for automotive and motorsport

In 2017, Ashley Warne, chief executive officer (CEO) and chief engineer of Dynisma Ltd., founded the United Kingdom-based driving simulator company after leading the in-house simulator development efforts for F1 at both McLaren and Ferrari. “Working in high pressure, excellence-led teams with significant resources instilled the belief that these efforts could be applied differently,” says Warne. “Access to the most advanced, high-fidelity, responsive motion generators that engineers could want should be made available to all.” At Dynisma, Warne is responsible for technical leadership and developing simulation concepts.

“Dynisma produces the most dynamic, responsive and scalable driving simulators in the world. Our team of world class engineers have taken on a fresh perspective and invented new solutions for automotive and motorsport,” states Warne.

Dynisma Motion Generators (DMGs) are fully immersive, offering the perfect solution for a range of audiences, such as motorsports teams that want to optimize driving and car performance or automotive manufacturers and suppliers that need advanced vehicle development and testing. The DMG delivers maximum bandwidth with minimum latency, which means that the simulator reacts very quickly to commands – in this case, response happens in 3 to 5 milliseconds. This is possible because the team co-designs software and mechanical engineering aims to remove every possible obstacle between the driver and the data.

DMGs are produced for all use cases in driving simulation for automotive and motorsport. The simulator also includes visuals, mock-up chassis, vehicle models and environment simulation. “DMGs are at least 50 percent better than any other comparable solution in the world and equally affordable,” states Warne.

Designing the DMG

“The development of DMGs always starts with embodying our unique selling points,” explains Matt Bell, head of mechanical engineering at Dynisma. “The process begins with a conceptual state, which gives the team a broad layout of the system before it is handed over to mechanical engineering. Then we identify and set all the key dimensions and components that will comprise the DMG. Once we feel like we have that arrangement correct, we tend to spread the work out to the rest of the team who will detail, draw and transform it into something that is producible. We also work with various suppliers who manufacture the structural parts – whether it is through formed metal work, computer numerical control (CNC) machined and 3D-printed components, or a composite structure.” Once the team figures this out, they have subassemblies or components come in for assembly and test.

“All our systems have very low latency,” summarizes Warne. “When we want a driver to feel that they are being moved – for example, from oversteer – this will happen in 3 to 5 milliseconds.” DMGs can be used to simulate any event like road texture, rumble strips, oversteer feedback and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Delays of milliseconds can have a huge impact in terms of the feedback given to the driver and their response.

Overcoming challenges as a startup

Like any startup, Warne and his team found the process of getting a business off the ground to be a challenging endeavor. “One critical success criterion is probably how fast you can bring your solution to the market,” Warne reflects. “That’s why we were looking right at the beginning for affordable yet advanced software to fulfil our needs in the mechanical design process of modeling and drafting, as well as a system level structural simulation solution.

After studying what was available on the market, Dynisma turned to Siemens Digital Industries Software and its Solid Edge for Startups program, which provides eligible startups with free access to a complete portfolio of product development software tools.

Along with one year of free Solid Edge® software, the program provides access to training resources, best practices and guidance from experts.

“When you are a fresh business with fresh investor funding, one of your primary focuses is making the capital you raise go as far as possible. So, the Solid Edge for Startups program was quite attractive at that time,” explains Warne. “It gave us this runway with a fixed cost for a certain amount of time, which provided flexibility in terms of licensing and enabled us to scale up as we took on new designers.”

As Dynisma applied for the Solid Edge for Startups program, they found the process to be painless. “We were able to quickly get the software licenses in place and integrate it with our cloud-based file sharing. From here, it was easy to get people up and working,” explains Bell. “When we were testing competitor options, some were more difficult to get and didn’t work properly a month in. With Siemens’ solution, the ease of setup and integration was a big influence on our decision.” By using Solid Edge, Dynisma’s onboarding licensing support process is now significantly faster compared to competitors. They can be up and running in days versus months.

Excellent support and advanced features

“The Solid Edge for Startups program was appealing because it offers the full digitalization portfolio covering mechanical and electrical needs with high quality technical support,” states Warne.

Dynisma has found Solid Edge to be the most useful for producing 3D models, rendering, drafting, simulation and for its built-in data management functionality, which enables them to manage new and existing files. The integration between applications allows Dynisma to significantly increase efficiency in their workflow. “The built-in data management system is a useful element that is not available in some other software packages,” states Bell. “We found the sheet metal modelling capabilities of Solid Edge to be excellent. It’s both powerful and user friendly enabling our new starts to quickly get productive with minimal rework.” Also, the assembly instructions are produced in Solid Edge. The team builds up the machine and moves through their verification and validation (V&V) activities and factory acceptance testing.

Siemens solution partners IC Blue and OnePLM also offered valuable support, making sure Dynisma got set up with licenses and received technology support during the implementation. Since then they have provided technical support and training for new team members at Dynisma. The quality of available technical support was one of the key reasons why the team chose the Siemens’ solution. “It was easy to get fast and reliable support from skilled people who could answer any question,” explains Bell.

Additionally, although Dynisma has scaled up and become more autonomous, they still benefit from the technical support, which enables them to discover and explore additional capabilities included in the software so they can become more proficient. “If we are experiencing an issue, the technical support team will set up an educational session and enable us to better understand how to overcome a problem,” states Bell.

Getting up to speed in days

The ease of onboarding and using Solid Edge has enabled Dynisma to rapidly bring team members up to speed and ultimately help them grow. “One way Solid Edge enables us to meet our design goals is that it is easy to pick up,” Bell explains. “We can find people who have used other Siemens packages, like NX, and they can quickly find their way around Solid Edge. Additionally, we have had several people come in who have used different packages who can pick up the software in a few days and produce useful work. This helps because it enables us to be responsive.

“It is now very easy to produce offers quickly, which also helped speed up our design and delivery processes – in the end the whole customer experience benefited from that shift.”

Going from startup to scaleup with Siemens Mechanical Design software

After the end of their startup phase, Dynisma expanded their product development capabilities to a new level by implementing Siemens Mechanical Design, which includes access to capabilities from both Solid Edge software and NX™. “Choosing this solution can enable us to grow while still being flexible enough to set the focus we want,” reports Bell. “After having an excellent experience with Solid Edge, the step to Siemens Mechanical Design was logical. It makes it easier to transfer in and out with NX files, improving interoperability with other software.”

The Siemens Mechanical Design software, including Solid Edge software and NX software, are part of the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software, hardware and services.

The package itself provides a single source for all mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD) purchasing, licensing, training and service needs. “For us the main advantage of Siemens Mechanical Design besides agile licensing was to provide each designer or engineer with the features and functions needed for the specific development process they were assigned to. This was to maximize design capabilities while lowering total cost of ownership,” says Bell.

It is crucial for Dynisma to continuously produce conceptual models and develop detailed designs with them. Since it is a highly integrated package, they can do so. Along with the ability to pick it up quickly, there is a flexible licensing model where they can pay by the month in the case of a short-term contractor.

“As we grow, we plan on continuing to explore Siemens Mechanical Design, moving toward using more capabilities with the hybrid licenses,” states Bell. Looking further down the road, they will continue to broaden access to their groundbreaking technology, offering industry leading responsiveness in new sectors and markets.

Improving development efficiency for electric vehicle chargers

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: Automotive and Transportation

Supporting the electric mobility ecosystem

eNovates is a rapidly growing technology company driven by mobility and sustainability. The company was founded in 2010 as a think-tank in a business club focused on developing and producing charging systems and energy management software to support the electric mobility ecosystem.

eNovates is expanding in the European Union and has an important market share in delivering public charging infrastructure, with about 80,000 charging stations installed in early 2021. The company is expanding its reach into smart energy management and recently added a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charger to its portfolio. Its customers are charge point operators (CPOs) – companies who sell charge points, connect them to networks and provide maintenance. eNovates serves its CPO partners as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

“Some of our customers approach us with no more than an idea for the final product. In this case we can base ourselves on a set of generic platform components and products to realize the best-fit custom product for the customer,” explains Stijn Vispoel, research and development (R&D) manager at eNovates. “Others come to us with an enclosure and ask us to develop a charger for it. We do full projects for them, and all solutions include mechanical, electrical, electronic and software components.”

Product development for rapidly changing requirements

Technologies, regulations, standards and customer requirements are evolving quickly in the electric mobility ecosystem. “The biggest challenge is the constantly and rapidly changing guidelines in the market,” Vispoel says. “We have to be on top of all the new developments and we really need a new product every year. It’s important to have enough R&D capacity to keep up with the changing requirements for charge points. Another factor is the different regulations in different countries in Europe. For example, customers in the Netherlands have different requirements than customers in France.”

Vispoel leads a team of project managers and support personnel with varying back-grounds in mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering. “We begin each project with a prototyping phase where we develop the printed circuit boards we need, the electrical wiring and mechanical components,” Vispoel explains. “Once we do all the checks on the digital design files, we make some prototypes and do test runs to confirm that they comply with the customer requirements and regulations. Then we enter what we call the alpha phase, redesigning any components that need modifications. We make another batch of the product, around 30 to 50 chargers, and do another validation run, performing temperature and high-voltage tests. We also have customers who use them to charge cars and run additional tests.”

In the next stage of development, the beta phase, eNovates makes necessary design modifications and orders a new batch of the product. “We go directly to certification labs with the beta chargers, and place about 100 chargers in the field with our customers, so we are certain that the product is mature enough and it’s fully certified to go into the market,” says Vispoel. “At that stage we typically don’t develop the hardware further – the focus is on finishing the software. Finally we go into production for our customers.”

Disparate systems and information silos

Over its history, eNovates had acquired engineering software systems for mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), two different printed circuit board (PCB) design solutions, and a system for electrical wiring and harness design. The systems had been selected based on engineers’ prior experience and partners’ and customers’ use of the solutions.

This software landscape had some limitations: The MCAD system lacked electrical design functionality, the wire harness design system had no 3D capabilities and neither system easily exchanged data with the PCB design tools. The four separate and disconnected software solutions created information silos that hampered interdisciplinary collaboration. Each software package used different data formats that impeded transfer of information between disciplines. Because the software was purchased from different vendors, the new versions of each software solution were not synchronized with the others and eNovates had four different sources of support.

Using this approach, the mechanical design team sent their design models to the electrical team, which amended the designs and returned them to the mechanical team. These iterative design exchanges continued over weeks and months, resulting in huge design and prototyping costs and product launch delays. The information silos and barriers between systems made it difficult for eNovates to fit electrical designs into mechanical spaces. They also created problems in communicating design information to contract manufacturers. eNovates was sending confusing and disconnected details of the design for manufacturing, which resulted in issues with requirements and regulations.

Integrating engineering disciplines and solutions

To eliminate the workflow inefficiencies, eNovates searched for an integrated software toolset that better suited the fast pace of development. From contacts at Ghent University, the eNovates team was introduced to Solid Edge® software, which is a part of the Xcelerator™ portfolio of solutions and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software and a leading mainstream product development platform.

eNovates contacted ADOPT id PLM, a Siemens solution partner in Belgium. After an initial meeting, ADOPT id prepared a presentation for eNovates that included Solid Edge and its integrated electrical design and technical publishing tools. The demonstration illustrated how all of the Solid Edge mechanical design, electrical wire routing and harness design, and technical publishing applications were fully integrated and used the same data format and user interface conventions. ADOPT id also proposed Siemens EDA (formerly Mentor) PADS Professional software, also integrated with Solid Edge, for PCB design and verification (PADS is supported by Siemens EDA solution partner Innofour). The presentation also emphasized the bidirectional data flows and associativity across the mechanical, electrical and electronics domains – design modifications in each discipline are automatically reflected in the others.

eNovates quickly made the decision to choose the proposed Siemens solution for several reasons. “We wanted all of our software tools to work together so we could have a streamlined design flow for our fastpaced development,” Vispoel explains. “For complex products with high quality standards and efficient production, we needed to transfer information very efficiently. The Siemens software offered us a better match to help us make fewer errors in our design iterations. We didn’t find this level of integration anywhere else in the engineering software market. And we regard Siemens as a very big technology provider, a market leader in software and a brand that delivers quality.”

Documenting designs for manufacturing

“We fully outsource our production,” Vispoel says. “We deliver the contract manufacturer a full package of information on how the product has to be made, how to test it, how to package it. And then they translate what we do in engineering into making the product. They source every component, make every PCB and test everything based on the instructions we provide.”

With its previous software solutions, eNovates could deliver a 3D file depicting the mechanical design, electrical drawings, and three separate bills of materials (BOMs) for drawing mechanical, electrical and PCB content. However, the information was not well integrated, and its delivery was not efficient.

Solid Edge Technical Publishing software offered eNovates a superior solution for preparing information for manufacturing. Now, the manufacturing package includes a unified BOM for the entire product, which is especially useful for pricing. For PCB manufacturing, a standard format file produced using PADS Professional software includes information about each physical board layer and coordinates for PCB objects like copper traces, vias, pads and solder masks. For electrical manufacturing, Solid Edge Technical Publishing software extracts the list of cables and their locations, connections, cut lengths, and torques required on their connecting screws, all produced using the Solid Edge electrical design software. With the Solid Edge 3D model, the publishing software fully and visually describes each step in the product assembly and testing processes.

Streamlined workflows boost efficiency

With the new integrated toolset, eNovates benefits from improved efficiency throughout the development and manufacturing cycle. “This was a big win for us,” Vispoel says.

Solid Edge 3D design software includes synchronous technology, which enables eNovates to edit CAD data from any source and leverages built-in product data management and cloud collaboration tools. Solid Edge electrical design satisfies eNovates’ need for 3D wiring and harness design and validation in mechanical assemblies.

Solid Edge technical publishing has helped eNovates improve the clarity, accuracy and completeness of manufacturing information in comprehensive case files. The integration of PADS Professional with Solid Edge has helped improved communication between PCB designers and mechanical engineers.

Office furniture manufacturer uses Teamcenter to efficiently design and build competitive solutions

Product: Solid Edge, Teamcenter
Industry: Consumer Products and Retail

Office furniture that inspires

The way offices are designed and furnished has a direct impact on a company’s success, especially when it comes to innovation, motivation, and efficiency. In collaboration with universities and scientists, Lista Office Group AG (Lista Office LO) turns the latest workplace research findings into innovative solutions. The leading Swiss manufacturer designs and implements office furniture, claiming their solutions make people work enthusiastically and successfully even on Mondays.

The company’s comprehensive product portfolio manufactured in-house ranges from desks, cabinets, and shelves all the way to accessories, the little everyday helpers. They combine steel and wood in all their different varieties and in combination with textiles and other materials to best cater to their customers’ tastes and required functionality.

Through a network of nine own subsidiaries and 15 authorized sales partners across Switzerland, Lista Office LO also acts as a full-service supplier of complete custom office furnishing projects. The company claims that its intelligent solutions can reduce the amount of space required by 25 percent or more while creating a pleasurable and productive workplace experience for those working there. To verify designs, Lista Office LO in some cases offers customers a 360° 3D preview in virtual reality.

Lista Office LO’s design engineers have been using Solid Edge® software from Siemens Digital Industries Software for computer-aided design (CAD) since the early 2000s. “As most of our office furniture is made using sheet metal and wood, we are extensively using the software’s sheet metal capabilities,” says Bruno Inauen, head of engineering, Lista Office LO. “They have greatly accelerated design work.”

Rapidly growing variety

In addition to a wide variety of standard geometries, Lista Office LO furniture comes with a considerable amount of customization. “More than 20 percent of the office furniture Lista Office LO makes is customized,” Inauen confirms. “This ranges from a single extra cable feedthrough in a table to a full-custom cabinet design.” Consequently, the engineering department is split up into two teams, one for basic engineering and serial product development and one for custom design tasks.

In the past, the engineers usually created new items by copying and modifying existing designs rather than by creating part families with parameters for variable dimensions. This led to an enormous growth in the number of products, parts and assemblies. This and a variety of data sources caused an unnecessarily high complexity of the process interfaces between engineering and production.

“With 250,000 CAD files on record, where-used lists had hundreds of pages and little information value,” says Inauen. “Depending on the origin of a modification, the information could be stored in several places and was often not easy to find.” As there was no associativity between original and modified parts, changes made to standard components or assemblies needed to be carried out separately for all product variants.

Ensuring consistency of the data used to create a customized version of an existing design had become a time-consuming activity, resulting in prolonged design-to-manufacturing transition periods. Production also frequently had to make adaptations to the designs they were sent before production could commence. All this slowed down the often time-critical product creation process, making it difficult to keep the company competitive.

Streamlining product information

Lista Office LO uses a variant configurator with automatic CAD model generation that is part of the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Although practical for sales purposes, this failed to provide consistent information on the use of parts all the way up to product level. So did Lista Office LO’s legacy product data management (PDM) software.

In an attempt to streamline internal processes, Lista Office LO management decided to concentrate all technical product-related information at a single source. Part of the company’s product lifecycle management (PLM) strategy was to create a platform for innovation providing and visualizing these structures transparently and comprehensibly to all those involved throughout the company. This was meant to be the foundation for scalable product development.

“We knew it was a necessity to optimize our product portfolio” says Inauen. “Consequently, we decided to maintain consistent product structures for standard products, custom configurations, semi-custom modifications and full custom products.” The custom solutions process was the most problematic in that it lacked quality assurance gates and the process as such was insufficient to cope with its challenges.

An integrated Teamcenter solution

The first step on the path to implementing a single source of truth was finding the right solution provider. Lista Office LO provided several candidate companies with its requirement specifications. “Following a brief evaluation phase, we invited Siemens Digital Industries Software solution partner Cytrus to implement a comprehensive PLM solution,” says Thomas Friederich, IT manager, Lista Office LO. “They offered everything from a single source, showed a profound comprehension of our challenges and demonstrated a high level of problem-solving capacity.

In a PLM maturity assessment prior to implementation, Cytrus and Lista Office LO gained a common understanding before validating all components of the solution. This involved a redesign of Lista Office LO’s process landscape and of some of the ERP software procedures.

The solution Cytrus offered uses Teamcenter® software from Siemens Digital Industries Software, an adaptable PLM system that connects people and processes across functional silos with a digital thread. To form a comprehensive, scalable solution spanning the entire company and covering all its processes, it is linked to Lista Office LO’s ERP software through the Teamcenter Gateway for SAP.

Lista Office LO implemented Teamcenter with little customization. “In a forward strategy, we also decided not to migrate existing data,” says Inauen. “Using Solid Edge and Teamcenter, we created new models of all items in our streamlined target product range instead.” Along with a greatly improved manageability and traceability, this approach reduced the number of CAD files by 90 percent.

Dramatic time savings

At several Lista Office LO locations, nearly 20 engineers are now using Teamcenter for all engineering tasks, from product ideation all the way to production. They were able to overcome separate information silos and use Teamcenter to manage all product-related information. Solid Edge is fully integrated with Teamcenter. Along with the introduction of the software, Lista Office LO implemented new procedures so they can now trace all steps in the process. “In the past, much of the knowledge we relied on was solely in the heads of individuals,” says Friederich. “Using Teamcenter as a single source of product data optimizes processes, reduces errors and eliminates rework.”

One of the consequences of using Teamcenter is that it is now much faster and easier to make modifications, assuring that global changes affect all custom versions of a product as well. To achieve this, Lista Office LO engineers are using Teamcenter’s capability to create part families. “This greatly reduces the time required to design of a wide variety of similar parts and helps avoid errors,” says Inauen. “It also comes with full associativity so that changes can automatically be applied to all parts within a family.

To illustrate the dramatic amount of time saved, the Lista Office LO engineers mention a new control unit for an adjustable-height sitting and standing desk that had to be attached with one more screw than its predecessor, so the table top needed an extra hole. “Going through each individual variant of that model to add this hole had taken two people the better of two weeks,” says Marc Esser, Teamcenter administrator and design engineer at Lista Office LO. “When we had to perform a similar modification recently, one person was able to update the entire part family within half a day, saving 95 percent of the time previously needed.”

Glassblowing startup drives innovation and expansion with Solid Edge

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: SMEs

Mobile Glassblowing Studios, a small startup based in Americus, Georgia, is using our Solid Edge for Startups program to transform its business as well as the glass blowing industry altogether.

Phil Vinson and his partner Chuck Wells launched Mobile Glassblowing Studios LLC in 2015. The company offers a range of products related to everything related to glass blowing. In particular, the company has an emblematic range of mobile glass blowing furnaces for use in exhibitions and schools. The furnaces are ideal for anyone who needs a glass blowing solution that is mobile, flexible and low maintenance.

Although it is still very in the start-up phase, the company has experienced rapid growth since its founding. The company started in Chuck’s backyard in a 12×32-foot portable building with a group of extension cables running from home and has since expanded to accommodate 11 employees in a modern 7,000-square-foot factory space. In short, its infrastructure has evolved to keep pace with growth.

“Where we are right now, we manufacture an average of between 30 and 40 units per year. We just shipped our 100th furnace a month ago, and since then we’ve sent four or five more. And that’s just ovens,” Vinson said in an interview with engineering.com. “Many times, the furnaces will have accessories, so there will be a cooling oven, or a bench, or some other type of furniture that we build. Usually, our sales are more than just ovens.”

Solid Edge para startups

For Mobile Glassblowing Studios, the CAD software of choice is Solid Edge. Phil Vinson had worked with Solid Edge on a previous job, so it was a natural choice to return to the software he was most accustomed to. But there were other benefits, too.

“We are part of the Solid Edge for Startups program, and it’s an initiative they have where we can get a license at no cost. The reason the program exists is so that startups do not have to justify a piece of software in their expenses. Therefore, Siemens allowed us to have the software for a year or two, and we have been able to model all of our furnaces. I used to use a 2D program and, with the help of our design developer turned lead manufacturer, Charles Wells III, we moved everything to Solid Edge. Now we can model the team and we can analyze how we’re building things. We’ve been able to develop very nice work drawings for people on the factory floor, so they know what they’re supposed to do.”

Solid Edge también proporciona a Mobile Glassblowing Studios potentes capacidades 3D que cambian la naturaleza misma de su flujo de trabajo.

“El cambio a 3D ha hecho que sea mucho más fácil comunicarse con las personas con las que estoy trabajando. Con 2D, tienes que dibujar cada vista y asegurarte de que no te perdiste un pequeño detalle. Y luego, cuando ibas a hacer cambios, era muy difícil asegurarte de que todo estuviera actualizado. Fue sólo una pesadilla para tratar de actualizarlo. Por lo tanto, lo que teníamos con 2D era un montón de ideas sueltas de los parámetros de cómo se suponía que eran estas cosas, y una especie de historia oral de cómo construir realmente las cosas. Dependía mucho de que personas específicas estuvieran disponibles en puntos específicos. Si llegas a ese punto un lunes por la tarde y esa persona no está allí, entonces todo se detiene. Por lo tanto, el cambio a 3D significa que no tienes que imaginar nada, solo está ahí. En realidad has construido la cosa en 3D, que es una forma muy diferente de ver las cosas. Crees que sólo va a tener un poco de impacto, pero cuando realmente lo pones en su lugar, es bastante profundo”.

Solid Edge also provides Mobile Glassblowing Studios with powerful 3D capabilities that change the very nature of your workflow.

“Switching to 3D has made it much easier to communicate with the people I’m working with. With 2D, you have to draw each view and make sure you didn’t miss a little detail. And then, when you were going to make changes, it was very difficult to make sure everything was up to date. It was just a nightmare to try to update it. So, what we had with 2D was a lot of loose ideas of the parameters of how these things were supposed to be, and a kind of oral history of how to actually build things. It was very much dependent on specific people being available at specific points. If you get to that point on a Monday afternoon and that person isn’t there, then everything stops. So, switching to 3D means you don’t have to imagine anything, it’s just there. You’ve actually built the thing in 3D, which is a very different way of looking at things. You think it’s just going to have a little bit of an impact, but when you really put it in place, it’s pretty deep.”

Solid Edge Startup Spotlight: 120km range, up to 6kg payload and a partnership with UPS – Tom Plümmer from Wingcopter

Product: Solid Edge
Industry: SMEs

Tom Plümmer is the co-founder of Wingcopter, an aviation startup from Darmstadt that has dedicated itself to the subject of drones. Tom’s background is actually in the media sector, but via detours and an earlier startup he came across his current co-founder Jonathan, who heads the entire development department at Wingcopter. Together they have one goal: to use their technology to make the world good. This interview was recorded back May 2020, as part of the podcast series Startup Hacks from Bernhard Kalhammer.

Bernhard Kalhammer: Welcome to a new episode of Startup Hacks, today with a super exciting interview guest, Tom Plümmer from Wingcopter. He will explain to us what Wingcopter is and who Tom Plümmer is.

Tom Plümmer: Thank you for the invitation. I’m Tom, one of the founders of Wingcopter. To describe myself, I would say I’m not really an engineer. We have good people, who have taken over the whole engineering part, including my co-founder who works in this field. My background is in media – I studied Media Management with a focus on communication design and product design and filming.

I would say my time in Africa has probably shaped me the most.  I spent almost two years working with kids for an NGO in Ghana, which was very cool. During my studies, I went abroad again for one semester with the German Academic Exchange Service. Through the DAAD I was able to study for a year at the University of Accra, where I focused on film. I met many people there and had a very intense and good time. I love the continent, the positive energy of the people, the willingness to participate with great ideas.

Of course, the problems I experienced in Africa also shaped me. For example, if a health care system is not well built, supply and cooling chains are quite bad for medical goods. Those two factors resulted in chaos. I took my knowledge with me to Germany. Through my studies, I worked with technology. Unfortunately, I have never really developed any kind of technology or invented things myself.

Two things led the way to what we are doing today: Wingcopter. Starting in Africa and other countries, seeing a lot of development potential, especially in the areas of supply chain and healthcare. I needed drone technology to take aerial photos.

I started focusing more on drones and founded a small startup that offered drone services, while I was still in school. I worked with two partners who knew how to fly drones. My responsibilities included recording from the drones.

Filming can have a positive impact, but I wanted to use the drone technology for more than just filming, but it was underdeveloped at the time. The drones were not able to fly for a long time or far distance, but the visionary in me dreamed about using them for logistics. Having dinner with co-workers, we discussed the possibility of building new drones. This was not in any of our capabilities, the missing element was engineering abilities.

A co-worker recommended a smart talented engineer in Darmstadt, name of Jonathan Hesselbarth . He had built drones himself,  and has an engineering background, so thought maybe this would be an excellent contact.

I met Jonathan in 2015, and by that time Jonathan had been developing drones for five years. Jonathan studied engineering with a focus on aeronautics, lightweight construction and aerodynamics, and he was able to do exactly what I absolutely couldn’t. He wanted to create something big and been building prototypes since 2010. Basically, they were already the Wingcopter.

Bernhard Kalhammer: Crazy. What a stay in Africa. From the NGO to your first startup, which was already underway in the field of drones. You have to tell us what drones you used. And how you ended up with Wingcopter.

Tom Plümmer: The special thing about Wingcopter is the swivel rotor mechanism, which Jonathan invented to combine two drone types.

You have a multicopter that can take off and float in the smallest space, which simply flies upwards and does not need a runway. It creates the problem that you must generate buoyancy like a helicopter continuously to keep it in the air. Accordingly, the battery is empty quickly, which is the frustration that always comes with the drones.

Now people know more about this technology, because drones are gaining more and more popularity. At that time, it was so impressive. The drone takes off vertically, moves a little bit forward, and then out of the forest, out of a hole in the trees. It swings its rotors, and the thing shoots across the field and goes up in the air in big rounds, it flies like an airplane.

Drones always look more spider-like. What’s special is that our Wingcopter has a wing on the rotors that can swing 90 degrees. There are four rotors on the drone, the rear ones are going up, the other ones are going down. This technique gives very good stability during wind and makes the whole system extremely controlled. That means you have the same speed, flight time and range like a plane. There are also drones that are started with a catapult and captured again with nets.

All this is not necessary here, because the Wingcopter brakes in the air. It can fold the rotors back and just land and take off vertically. What’s special is that we have a platform that is simply efficient, that starts in the smallest of spaces, that can fly long and far and can carry a lot very quickly. The platform can be equipped with all possible sensors, for example with a delivery box.

We have a delivery box that can be dropped on a rope. After that the drone turns around and flies back to the landing point. The drone doesn’t even need to land in order to deliver.

A two-way delivery would be very valuable, if you deliver medicine and transport laboratory samples back. We also have multispectral cameras, which are good for agricultural smart farming, so you can create great mappings and measurements. We have installed lasers for laser scanners, as well as cameras with zoom and infrared. A huge range of solutions that are possible, thanks to Wingcopter. This allows us to serve a whole range of industries and customers, up to a maximum of 6 kilos. With the next version, it might be a lot more, so you will be able to put all kinds of stuff on it.

You would suddenly have a platform for 20 different solutions on 20 different markets. You can calculate what this would mean for the future of Wingcopter, it is important that we don’t lose focus.

Bernhard Kalhammer: I was just about to say that. Testing is always a good way to get a sense of what you’re focusing on. But you are absolutely right, if it is so multifunctional, it is difficult to keep an overview and not lose focus.

Tom Plümmer: Overall, we tested a lot. We tried a lot of different things, with many different customers on different markets, and then we figured out what worked the best. We are already part of this market and are already flying tests in several countries. In those countries, we also have permission to fly long distances. Those are delivery drones that deliver parcels.

We decided we were getting into logistics, and that was mainly my dream. I described earlier that it is my desire to improve the supply chains in developing countries and build health systems. With drones, we can skip the expansion of the highways, which would take a long time and would costs a lot. I see the possibilities.

We decided to focus on making deliveries by drone and perfect that. We have already gained experience in this area and delivered vaccines for children for UNICEF. With one flight we delivered 50 pieces, so a very large load.

Bernhard Kalhammer: You guys use a Siemens software, right? Solid Edge has also played an important part in prototype development in general, how did you use the Solid Edge software?

Tom Plümmer:We are very happy with the product. It’s our basic tool for development and adjustments. We can make optimizations, designs and adjustments according to customer requirements. All our engineers use Solid Edge.

I can’t say anything bad about it, it really helped us. How to start a startup is a good question. You must have certain licenses for programs, you have better conditions as a student, when you have a company, you have to pay for them. There are great programs out there. We’ve been sponsored for a while and the critical part is to create the final transformation. But we are well positioned in engineering now.

Bernhard Kalhammer: Like you said, Solid Edge has a start-up funding program.

In the beginning the cash is low and the motivation is high. We all want to start our own thing. If you are working with hardware like you, the investment is a completely different story. If you can save the costs for a great software for the first year, which contributes a significant part for the development of the product, that is amazing.

Tom Plümmer: Yeah, I put it a little fuzzy. Without this good offer for startup companies, it’s really hard to make the jump from student to company. If help is offered, please take it, that’s what helped us. Unfortunately, I cannot recall all the details of how long the grace period was. We had the chance to try the software and to decide that we wanted to work with this tool. Meanwhile, it helped us through the production and marketing process. I think that it could help many more startups.

Bernhard Kalhammer: Hey, it was a really cool interview. Thank you so much for your time. I truly enjoyed it. I wish you all the best for the future.