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Software Update: Fast, Flexible Factory Data Delivery Gives Shops a Competitive Edge

John Fishell






John Fishell is vice president, Delmia Apriso product management, Dassault Systèmes America Corp. (Waltham, MA), a developer of manufacturing software solutions.

Manufacturing Engineering:
Apriso recently updated its FlexNet Manufacturing Process Intelligence software. What does an effective manufacturing execution system (MES) offer manufacturers?

John Fishell: An effective MES is one that makes a manufacturer’s job easier while offering improved performance. The need for better flexibility, visibility and decision support today is a big driving force to making an MES investment. Manufacturers need to respond at an increasingly accelerated pace to keep up with new customer demands, volatile supply chains and highly dynamic competitive environments. At the same time, the consequence for a misstep is increasingly costly, so it is necessary to both improve agility and make better decisions.

I can’t over-emphasize the importance of adapting quickly to change, especially in industries where new technology is being deployed. The recent coming revolution in additive manufacturing is a great example, and specifically, its potential impact on aerospace manufacturing. Would you fly in an airplane that was produced by a 3D printer? This possibility is a lot closer than most people imagine. More importantly, this type of technology disruption could wreak havoc on your manufacturing process unless your systems have been set up to handle this type of change.

ME: How can the system’s new real-time quality process management improve manufacturing processes?

Fishell: Shortening the time to identify a quality issue, and then compressing the time to fix it are the hallmark attributes of our recent Quality Intelligence Pack product launch. The sooner an issue can be identified, the less costly it will be to fix it. Under this scenario, any investment that a manufacturer can accomplish to address this challenge will likely offer a significant return on investment. With regard to how we can improve a manufacturing process, if you can accomplish the same results for less cost, you have achieved this objective.

ME: Apriso recently added its Paperless Manufacturing and Smart-Pull Manufacturing solutions. What do these solutions add to the manufacturing toolbox?

Fishell: You have actually touched upon an important theme that is an important driver of our product roadmap. Apriso is committed to improving our clients’ ability to better manage change while operating in a highly dynamic environment. The organization that can adapt fastest with the greatest efficiency is the winner in our book. Each of these offerings help accomplish this objective. Those embracing a true paperless solution can avoid the bottlenecks of paper-based processes. Apriso’s Smart-Pull solutions can automate responses based on real-time manufacturing intelligence, letting processes be performed with greater efficiency and knowledge. Our Quality Intelligence Packs play an important role in enabling these capabilities.

ME: What industries and companies best deploy MES/manufacturing process intelligence, and how are they leveraging the technology?

Fishell: There are two types of manufacturing processes that immediately come to mind, each of which can heavily benefit from integrating operations execution and intelligence technologies: low-mix, high volume and low-volume, high-mix. Those manufacturers focused on high volume understand the need to identify issues as fast as possible—a couple of hours of downtime could cause a “miss” for their monthly metrics. Similarly, those operating on a lower volume, but with highly complex build plans that can take hours to fix if not assembled correctly can also see a big benefit in building it “right first time.” A good example of this type of scenario is the aerospace and defense industry. Each aircraft represents a significant investment of time, resources and labor—coupled with demanding regulation requirements—that requires each process be completed the same every time, and that the process be documented to support every compliance initiative.

The Quality Intelligence Pack software from Delmia Apriso helps manufacturers shorten the time to identify and fix quality issues.

ME: How has Dassault Systèmes’ recent acquisition of Apriso affected future product developments?

Fishell: It does seem like I am a little busier these days! Clearly, having the resources and strength of Dassault Systèmes and its employees has gone a long way to giving Apriso an opportunity to expand its wings and consider broader potential new solutions for the future, but that is more of a long-term perspective. In the short term, we are still operating somewhat autonomously, focused on completing our commitments to our customers first. Over time, I see some interesting options we will definitely be evaluating on a go-forward basis.

ME: How does the current business climate look for the manufacturing industry?

Fishell: It sure feels a lot better than it did a few years ago. Before our biggest value proposition was on how to cut costs, and get ‘more from less.’ Today, while that message still resonates, there is definitely more of a focus on ‘How can you help me with my growth plans?’ Helping better manage new product introductions is another important issue facing the global producers we regularly work with. ME


PLM developer Dassault Systèmes (Velizy-Villacoublay, France) and Accelrys Inc. (San Diego), a developer of scientific lifecycle management software for chemistry, biology and materials, on Jan. 30 announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which Dassault will acquire Accelrys in an all-cash tender offer for the outstanding shares of Accelrys common stock at a price of $12.50 per share, without interest, representing a fully diluted equity value of approximately $750 million.

Dassault intends to acquire any shares of Accelrys not tendered into the tender offer, via a merger that will be effected as soon as possible after the closing of the tender offer. The Board of Directors of Accelrys has unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2014, subject to shareholders tendering a majority of Accelrys’ outstanding shares in the tender offer.

Autodesk Inc. (San Rafael) announced Feb. 6 it has completed its acquisition of CAM software developer Delcam plc (Birmingham, UK). Delcam shareholders voted in January to accept Autodesk’s offer to acquire Delcam. Autodesk originally announced its intent to acquire Delcam on November 7, 2013 for £20.75 per share, valued at approximately £172.5 million, or about $286 million, using non-US-based cash.

Autodesk said Delcam will operate as a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Autodesk, with no significant changes planned for Delcam’s business. The transaction is expected to have no impact on Autodesk’s guidance issued on November 26, 2013, and Autodesk expects the transaction to be dilutive to its non-GAAP earnings in fiscal 2015 and accretive to its non-GAAP earnings in fiscal 2016.

New Releases

SigmaTEK Systems LLC (Cincinnati), supplier of CAD/CAM nesting and manufacturing process solutions, Jan. 22 released its new software SigmaTube, a complete tube and pipe-cutting system that supports round, square, rectangular, or triangular tube/pipe, and structural material such as I-beams, H-beams, C-channel, and angle iron. SigmaTEK is the developer of SigmaNest, a solution for nesting, NC programming and cutting steel sheet, plate, tube/pipe, and wood.

Custom programs are available to fully maximize advanced features of Mazak FabriGear, Trumpf, BLM, Bystronic, Amada, and other tube and pipe cutting laser machines. The package’s key features include flexibility allowing multiple cutting machines to be driven with a single solution; support for multiple assembly model configurations; simple model refresh provides updated design revisions; a cutting technology table sets cutting condition parameters; and seamless operation from within SolidWorks software.

A new process management software package called TIMS (Tongtai Integrated Monitoring Systems), jointly developed by Tongtai Machine Tools (Taiwan) and FANUC (Rochester, MI, and Japan) is now available through machine tool distributor Absolute Machine Tools Inc. (Lorain, OH). The TIMS software is targeted more towards process and machine tool management than production monitoring. The software enables management to monitor real-time and historical parameters on each machine within a cell and on the production line.

The software offers four main functions—Machine Situations Monitoring, Production Line Management, Operation History Recording, and Alarm History Recording—for checking real-time machine conditions, monitoring cycle time, comparing machine performance, and tracking CNC control alarms. TIMS is offered exclusively by Absolute Machine Tools, Tongtai’s North American distributor.

Stratasys Ltd. (Minneapolis and Rehovot, Israel) Jan. 21 announced exocad GmbH (Darmstadt, Germany), developer of dental CAD/CAM software solutions, has verified Stratasys 3D Printers for the manufacture of physical dental models in its latest software. Known for its speedy operation and ease of use, exocad software is a popular CAD solution for dental lab technicians. With exocad validation, customers who run the latest exocad Model Creator software release will have access to Stratasys manufacturing pre-settings to 3D print models. This validation enables a seamless digital dental workflow in which dental labs quickly take intra-oral scans and digitally design and create accurate, smooth dental models on Stratasys 3D printers.

Software Update is edited by Patrick Waurzyniak:


This article was first published in the March 2014 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF

Published Date : 3/1/2014

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