Auto manufacturers assemble thousands of cars every week, with most vehicles using identical standard components. For instance, virtually any OEM automaker uses many of the same door hardware and body clips across brands. As well as the same brake pads, engine components or even the exact same engines.
The old nightmare of parts procurement in the automotive aftermarket: What used to be standard operating procedure in the aftermarket decades ago? The only source to identify car parts where the OEM auto parts catalogs. Full sets from the Big 3 would take up floor to ceiling bookshelves 20 feet long. Primarily used by auto dealer repair shops or broad line automotive parts distributors, these manuals were the holy grail of auto parts. The standard practice for distributors was to have their product managers identify likely crash panels on new cars (front and rear corner panels, bumpers, etc.). Then they would spend hours manually searching the OEM catalogs to find part numbers for the body clips and hardware on those panels and have purchasing buy them in bulk from the hardware manufacturer. Their salespeople went out to auto dealers service departments and independent body shops to sell 3¢ clips for 15¢ each in boxes of 100. One would think the auto dealer could get them from the OEM cheaper than a distributor. However, the distributor had the buying power to purchase the body clips in bulk directly from the clip manufacturer. And when the dealer or body shop did order directly from the OEM it could take weeks to receive the order because OEM inventory went into making cars before they would think of shipping a handful of body clips to Joe’s Garage in Boise. All the while Joe’s Garage had a Cadillac with a smashed front end waiting for a couple of body clips just to finish the job.
Standard Components at the OEM in Today’s World
The design phase of standardizing components allows manufacturers in a wide variety of industries and their tier suppliers to keep the cost of individual products as low as possible. And strategic part management also ensures consistent quality. This all seems basic. However, 40% of engineers from various industries spend at least one hour per day recreating standard or supplier parts.
All too often the amount of data an engineer needs to navigate and locate a standard part in their system is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Most supplier part models are readily available but lack the data that engineers require to find them. Choosing to create a new CAD model instead of searching for an existing one often feels like an easy shortcut. However, it actually increases an engineer’s work downstream and adds significant costs throughout the product life-cycle.
By painstakingly wasting valuable time recreating a 3D representation of a purchased component for their design, an engineer is adding layers of inefficiency into their process. Engineers too often spend valuable time entering part master data instead of using their skills to concentrate on the development of innovative new products.
Consequences of Unnecessary Re-Designs
The financial drain due to an unnecessary product redesign, even a small modification, could be far greater than the OEM realizes.
In fact, an unplanned or even forced product redesign has the potential to waste resources by:
- Having to create new 2D production drawings
- Creating CAM programing for later production
- Incurring the extra expense and time to create master data files and work plans in ERP & PLM parts search systems
- Creating unnecessary or unwanted changes to the Bill of Material, which can cause errors
- Imposing additional inventory carrying costs
From Manufacturer Parts Design to Production Processes for Consumer Products
The challenges of readily available product information are not just issues with engineers at aerospace, fluid power, automotive, appliance or other durable goods manufacturers. These issues also affect soft good consumer product companies. And not just with product design, but also in production operations. At Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s leading consumer products companies with some of the strongest portfolios of trusted, high quality brands, production design engineers and designers require a large variety of digital product data of standard and purchased parts. This data comes from various component manufacturers for parts used to operate their production lines. Up until 2015 when engineers and developers at P&G needed a purchased part not found in the internal library, they searched the internet manually for the relevant product information of the respective manufacturer. “The time-consuming search for components led our company to a large number of newly created components as well as to duplicates,” said Sascha Hartung, Commercial Parts Lead Designer at Procter & Gamble. “Moreover, we were manually transferring component information into our systems.”
Enter PARTsolutions Strategic Parts Management software from CADENAS. P&G set a goal to make all product data in all CAD model formats digitally available at every company location worldwide. This would increase the reuse of standard parts and reduce the redundant creation of components already in their system while lowering engineering costs.
To address the company’s strategy in the designing and engineering of production lines PARTsolutions strategic part management software accesses millions of standard and purchased parts from more than 700 manufacturer product catalogs. The software solution also offers intelligent search methods as well as end-of-life information of components. PARTsolutions supports engineers and developers in their daily work at P&G by connecting to the PLM system Teamcenter™ of Siemens PLM and the CAD systems Solid Edge®, SOLIDWORKS® and NX® used by P&G’s production engineers.
The Power of Integrated Digital Product Information
Globalization and digital transformation can present significant challenges to industrial and consumer products companies. To address these challenges a large number of component manufacturers are providing their product information digitally, with all the required component information in a digital product catalog.
In part design and engineering production lines, engineers and designers need a variety of digital product information about standard and purchased parts from often dissimilar component manufacturers. PARTsolutions offers access to nearly 1,000 manufacturer certified product catalogs. Using smart catalog technology, manufacturers of standard and purchased parts can extend their digital product information to include important metadata (such as kinematics, end-of-life, customs tariff numbers and more). This makes it remarkably easier for engineers at manufacturers of consumer products like P&G and industrial products companies such as Parker Hannifin, where they are able to include components into their production lines and product designs in a simple and quick manner.
Yet Why Do so Many Engineers Skip the Search?
How much time does a typical engineer spend recreating standard, or supplier parts? Nearly 60% say they waste at least 30 minutes per day, while almost 24% waste up to an hour, 10% two hours and even 3 hours for close to 7% of engineers. Because the available search tools and capabilities are often insufficient it makes the process of finding the right part very time consuming, and often causes inadvertent duplication. Frequently making them feel like they are left to fit a square peg in a round hole.
However, extensive automatic search functions integrated into and across existing CAD, PLM and ERP systems help engineers easily find supplier parts, search standard parts, and company parts in their internal and external part classification system. This narrows their search down from hours to minutes, or even seconds. Because of PARTsolutions’ technologies the search tools available to engineers and purchasers solve their unique challenges and help them find needed components in an intelligent way, significantly saving engineering time and reducing costs throughout the product life-cycle.
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