Modern industrial manufacturers are striving to introduce
new product designs to compete in todays volatile global markets. To keep up with
changing customer needs and tastes, custom-build or standard "tailored"-build
products have become strong marketplace trends. However, in traditional engineering and
manufacturing environments, these products require specialized processes and, as a result,
customers pay more for them. Manufacturers must find ways to respond to these market
demands while keeping prices competitive, and still make a profit.
Inc., a subsidiary of Cincinnati Milacron, developed a highly efficient production
methodology based on Parametric Technology Corporations Pro/ENGINEER, which offers a
unique and flexible approach to both engineering and manufacturing. The system possesses
capabilities that allow it to adapt to rapidly-changing production cycles in a relatively
short period of time. While the new approach has already delivered an impressive return on
investment, a great deal of planning and thought had to be invested up front. To determine
how to apply the new technology in their unique environment, Valenites engineering
team began to explore and experiment. An in-depth analysis of production processes was
The Search for a Flexible Process
Valenite, like most companies today, is structured departmentally into functional areas,
such as order entry, engineering, manufacturing, tooling, quality control, etc. The length
of each new product cycle depends in part on the speed at which product information
travels within and between these departments. "Waiting modes" can equate to
down-time, increasing cycle time and cost, while decreasing responsiveness.
on Valenites research, a new CAD/CAM technique was proposed, integrating most of
Valenites separate business activities into a highly intelligent program which would
capture processes and generate product documentation automatically. By leveraging the
power and full associatively of Pro/ENGINEER, this approach was successfully implemented
in Valenites tooling plant as the core of a flexible manufacturing "cell".
Fig 1.1-1.3. Typical designs of Valenite HSK shell
products may be similar in shape or styling, but differ in size and dimensions, depending
on what best conforms to a particular customer need.
increased access to up-to-date product information had an immediate and positive impact on
the design of products known as "family parts" (FP) products which are
often similar in shape, but differ in size and dimensions. This "template"
approach allows endless variations of proven product designs to be developed and marketed
very quickly. Pro/ENGINEERs associatively enabled Valenites engineers to
access and modify family part designs quickly and easily, and to share new product
information with other areas in the development process.
R & D department continued their rigorous experimentation with Pro/ENGINEER until they
could formulate basic principles of building truly reusable parametric solid models,
assemblies, drawings, manufacturing models, and documentation.
examples that follow briefly outline the theories behind some of these experiments. To
receive an in-depth description of the Valenite experiments and their interesting results,
please refer to the contact information at the end of this article.
Mill Adapter Experiment
A fully automated manufacturing cell for
HSK adapters was introduced for the new standard machine tool interface (DIN89669). A
typical HSK Shell Mill adapter (Figure 1.11.3) is used for mounting shell mills for
metal-cutting machine tools. The product design is relatively simple, having only two
basic parts the front part and the shank part. The conservative shank part is
totally defined in the standard shown in Figures 1.1 1.3 and is incorporated in a
large FP table. It includes eight sizes and six shapes, for a total of 48 combinations.
The front part is moderately complex and
is offered in Valenites catalog as 10 standard items, which have different front
pilot diameters and types of clamping screws. Some of them have internal coolant supply,
some do not.
The breakthrough idea for this product was
to offer customers some "tailored standard products." The goal of the process
was to build an integrated system which would be able to generate customized solutions for
customers with very fast turnaround times and minimal manual intervention. To
this objective and make the system work, Valenite engineers developed the