What are the disadvantages of concurrent engineering

Concurrent engineering in practical application

In order to promote the culture of collaboration, which forms the basis for highly committed and successful development organizations, many manufacturers rely on concurrent engineering. It's a process that uses technology to automatically connect and communicate product data with globally distributed teams that use multiple development tools.

Components of concurrent engineering

While the main purpose of this approach is to leverage the multidisciplinary team in a timely manner to expedite product development, the key is to leverage technology to integrate people and processes. In this way, concurrent engineering helps ensure that manufacturing restrictions are taken into account early on in the design process. B. through Design for Manufacturing (DfM), Design for Cost / DfP (DfC / DfP), Design for Assembly (DfA) and Design for Testability (DfT).

This integration allows the development team to design and work in parallel with other participants and overcome the disadvantages of sequential development. For example, while the product designers begin designing the product, the sales team can work on the messaging and the product support department can think about after-sale support. Another example: while the mechanical designers are working on the integration of the PCB (printed circuit board) that is being developed by the electrical engineering team, the software engineers can begin to look at the software code.

How do you implement concurrent engineering?

As already mentioned, technology is the linchpin in concurrent engineering. More specifically, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. PLM unites development and production by providing a common view of common data via a digital thread. This digital thread connects the manufacturing requirements with products, processes and resources and makes them easily accessible and visualizable.

PLM software enables a seamless flow of accurate, real-time information between design and manufacturing, so teams can work at the same time and bring higher quality products to market faster. PLM enables the automated, traceable and bidirectional transfer of design data - including the associated system-specific documentation and processes - to the production systems. This includes manufacturing parts lists (MBOMs), manufacturing process management as well as manufacturing optimization and simulation (e.g. ergonomics, robot, layout and process planning). Integration with Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) makes PLM the most important data source for product information in the factory. In other words: PLM enables the use of concurrent engineering.

PLM is typically introduced step by step on the way to the "digital" factory of the future:

Step 1: In this step, the production engineers usually use PLM and CAD software to develop the parts list and work instructions from the 3D CAD structure approved by the design department. This allows them to use the 3D data as the basis for all downstream activities, making PLM the most important source of information for all function teams. This information can then be used as input for the process plans and work instructions (assembly line, ergonomics, etc.) when performing simulations. Change management processes are also being developed to ensure the factory has early access to them.

Step 2: The aim of this step is to give production engineers the opportunity to develop unique factory views of products that are visible to all PLM users. This includes plant-specific associative processes, resource plans and work instructions.

Step 3: This step aims at additional integration between IT systems (e.g. PLM and ERP) and industrial engineering (OT) systems (e.g. SCADA), including networked machines and tools as part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) . Here, a manufacturer could use augmented reality (AR) for work instructions, for example.

What are Concurrent Engineering Applications?

Let's explore all of the potential uses of concurrent engineering with PLM.

BOM transformation with traceability

With functions for parts list management and transformation, product developers create and manage a semi-centered digital product that can be used in every step of the product life cycle. This means that mechanical, software, and electronic parts, as well as associated artifacts, can be integrated into the engineering bill of materials. This creates a single interface that enables collaboration between teams that rely on domain-specific systems such as CAD, PLM and ERP. In addition, the traceability and the associativity across plant-specific MBOMs can be improved and the parts list comparison can be optimized by using the plant-specific MBOM associativity and a uniform change process.

Process planning

In PLM, production creates and manages process descriptions in a robust and change-sensitive directory. From the MBOM, everyone can see how the product is put together using process plans. At the same time, PLM dramatically reduces time to market by enabling developers to easily reuse previous designs. The production output becomes seamless with configuration- or system-specific process plans that contain several sequences of operations.

The change workflow support ensures that the factory knows that a change is imminent - and early on - and can plan for it or suggest another approach. At the same time, the support of a quality workflow back to the design and production planners enables an important root cause analysis.

Resource management

PLM helps make more efficient use of manufacturing resources that are required in manufacturing for the production, maintenance, inspection, or repair of parts. These resources can be physical (workstations, tools, process materials) or human skills that are usually associated with cost, time and / or technical constraints.

CAD in production

Today it is imperative for engineers to quickly evaluate various design alternatives and the manufacturing processes that provide the competitiveness and speed necessary to win new projects. With the right CAD solutions, manufacturers can support the development of innovative products using the most modern and efficient manufacturing technologies. You can improve the product and production in the context of real conditions.

The support of generative design, real-time simulation, multi-body design and additive manufacturing - to name just a few examples - makes it possible to efficiently bring products from concept to digital prototype.

Digital simulation and time optimization

At a high level, PLM provides integrated configuration / change management for simulation artifacts (i.e. simulation models, results and reports) and establishes the relationship between products, processes and resources. The simulation-driven design functions support generative design and real-time simulation. The latter enables constant feedback on design decisions. It also supports simulation at the analyst level so that all engineers can do the final validation of the design before production.

Work instructions for assembly

A central directory and the construction environment for the management of production data in PLM provide the employees on the production line with relevant, up-to-date assembly work instructions. This software enables design engineers to define the processes required and specify the materials, tools, skills, parts / assemblies, and machines required to do the job. With the right CAD software, developers can even create custom 3D illustrations and animations from existing CAD assets that can then be added to the central directory.

With the information from this directory, operators and end-user technicians can access 2D and 3D technical work instructions on the screen or via mobile devices, tablets and AR headsets. Interactive, animated work instructions can be proactively provided at the start of assembly operations or made available to the end user as needed to assist them in completing a task. And with software that pulls information directly from the PLM, employees on the production line always have the most accurate, up-to-date and relevant work instructions available for the parts or assemblies they are working on, which helps reduce human errors and Minimize scrap and rework.

An example of concurrent engineering in the automotive industry

Companies from all industries use PLM for various concurrent engineering applications. Volvo, for example, uses PLM software as the backbone for an industrialized digital thread that improves cross-team efficiency and speeds time to market. This is especially important for Volvo as the configuration variation and complexity in its product catalog increases. In particular, PLM is used to enable a free flow of information between development and production and to ensure that design changes are passed on to production quickly and efficiently.

PLM enables a fast, accurate, and traceable product development workflow while reducing time to market, lowering costs, and improving quality. This helps improve the design of components and get them into production quickly.

PLM for technical development

Create and extend the digital thread


The author

Mark Taber Mark Taber is Vice President of Marketing.

In his current role, Mark Taber is leading the rollout of Digital Engineering Transformation, which enables companies to benefit from the fundamental change in products, the Internet of Things. This path should help you to use this added value through the introduction of new technologies and technical processes.

Mark has over 30 years of experience in process automation, application integration, cyber security, and development. Prior to PTC, Mark was CEO of Active Endpoints (acquired by Informatica), a process automation company. Mark is a graduate of the Wharton School and currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.