Taking a look at the challenges, culture changes, and downstream benefits of the MBE journey.
How does Enterprise Accountability take shape in your organization?
This was the question that all organizations represented at 3D CIC (Collaboration Interoperability Congress) were trying to answer or find answers to.
Last week I had the privilege of attending an industry event focused on the interoperability of CAD with business systems that feed downstream processes. This was my first time attending the annual event hosted by consulting group Action Engineering (my company, CADENAS PARTsolutions, is a sponsor for the event).
My purpose there was two-fold: develop relationships that could lead to new business with potential clients and learn more about the industry as it relates to MBE (Model-Based Enterprise) and the journey all companies are on in this endeavor.
3D CIC offered ample opportunity to learn something new― that’s for sure― and the smaller venue allowed me to ask questions and engage with other attendees who were excited to share their challenges and goals they had established without the business of a bigger venue. With my overall impressions in mind, I would like to share 4 key takeaways that I discovered during my time at the event.
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The “MBE Journey” and Culture of Change Management
One of the biggest things anyone will notice while at 3D CID is that everyone is on a journey to empower their companies with the best practice of MBE. When you boil down the explanation of the MBE journey, I think of it as a game of “telephone” where you can pass the note or message (maybe a digital note) along the chain and not have a breakdown in communication. The OEM, or a company’s MBE team, is at the beginning of the line and either the supply chain or downstream engineering teams are at the other end of line trying to interpret the message they are receiving with the end goal of making something that works for the customer.
Okay, so you and I might understand what MBE is, but how do you communicate what it is and why it is important to the rest of your company? This is another question that came up during the congress almost everyday (in fact, there were sessions devoted to this topic and every speaker touched on how they would accomplish this). I learned that it is faster to use 2D methods and that most engineers find it easier to keep doing what they have always been doing, which makes it harder for the MBE proponents. However, the effects of MBD/MBE roll downstream and as a result an organization gains efficiency and reduces errors.
“How do you promote Model-Based Definition in your company when the 2D way worked? The 2D way has never worked. We just got used to the errors.”
– Denise Fitzgerald MIT-Lincoln Laboratory
By the end of the event, I felt that there was a consensus among the group that in order to enact change, change needed to be heralded one step at a time with a change agent in place. I found it enlightening how some companies had tried approaches that seemed like one team was throwing the ball over the wall where another company placed MBE experts in each different functional group to encourage coworkers to use MBD in their modeling processes.
Understanding the “why” behind a company’s decision to implement MBE is extremely helpful for the end users to get behind the adoption of change. In other words,
People like to be accountable for choices they make, not have a decision made for them.
Therefore, to conclude my takeaway on how to affect culture internally when facing the challenges on your MBE journey is to implement change incrementally and establish the “why” behind the changes so you can empathize with your coworkers as you embark on the journey together.
The downstream benefits that prove why MBE is important for the enterprise
So what are the some of the downstream benefits of implementing MBD at the design level?
Here are a few examples:
- Machining Automation (i.e. Feature based machining)
- Automatic Quality CMM Inspection Programming
- Better communication of geometric tolerances resulting in better tooling and fixture design based on critical features
- Work instructions for assembly and in the field maintenance and repair based on the model
- MBD makes it easier to create a 3D TDP (Technical Data Package) which is used to share data from OEM to supplier and exchange data between parties
All these examples point to the ability to quickly disseminate changes and updates to a model downstream enabling an organization to be more agile in their product development.
How the QIF format will affect the exchange of quality information throughout the MBE process
I had never heard of the QIF format before this event, and I quickly realized that a lot of organizations saw value in this for a number of reasons. Before I get into the value they saw, let me explain what it is.
QIF stands for “Quality Information Framework” and it is a neutral open source XML standard for use with quality measurement systems. The QIF standard has a website for more information.
This format is important because it allows enterprises to create a neutral format for exchange of quality data that isn’t tied to one CAD vendor ecosystem or even metrology programming applications provided by the CMM (Coordinate Measurement Machines) manufacturers themselves. Look back to my analogy of a game of “telephone” and you can quickly see that neutral formats like QIF enable better exchange of critical information.
Challenges of navigating the MBE journey
This was more or less the point for this event. The opportunity to network with others who are in the same boat is a big reason that a lot of people come to 3D CIC. Coming for my first time and with a different perspective as a sponsor, I can tell that most attendees appreciated the chance to meet like-minded professionals and learn from each other.
Here are some of the things that I noticed people are struggling with on their MBE journey (not listed in any priority).
- Gaps in GD&T knowledge (there was a great session on this and discussion around this topic)
- Lack of user adoption of MBD tools in native CAD tools
- Part validation of internal parts (can a user trust that the model is correct?)
- Part validation of commercial off the shelf (COTS) parts and associated metadata required for downstream processes [this is something we can help with by the way]
- Application of MBD for certain manufacturing processes especially for processes such as sheet metal (straight break or press form)
As you can see, there will always be challenges on the path to achieving a fully digital enterprise. Thanks to events/communities like 3D CIC, there will always be room to discuss how some of these challenges can be overcome.
In conclusion, I encourage you to attend 3D CIC next year in beautiful Golden, CO. Also, ask questions and be curious as to how you can achieve your goals within your enterprise. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help navigating your journey towards a model based enterprise. I am very excited to continue my learning journey with the professional community.
This article was also published on LinkedIn.