For more than 60 years, Héroux Devtek of Montreal, Canada, has been a trusted supplier of landing gear. The major aerospace OEMs and their airline customers rely on the company for its expertise in design, manufacture, repair, and test of these systems.
To maximize the opportunities created by close collaboration between engineering and manufacturing, Héroux Devtek needed to bridge the physical distance between the two groups. The company adopted PLM solutions from Dassault Systèmes, including ENOVIA SmarTeam and CATIA, to create a real-time collaboration environment.
The multisite company has three separate manufacturing engineering groups, which has required frequent trips to the engineering department to consult on designs in development. In the past, many opportunities were identified only after the finished design was released to manufacturing—an expensive and time-consuming point at which to deal with changes.
“We knew if we could find a way to let engineering and manufacturing consult together every day, the manufacturing engineers would see more opportunities for improvement than if they were in our office only a few times,” said Nagi Homsy, Vice President of Engineering. “The more we can get manufacturing involved early in the process, the better the design is going to be, and that is always our primary concern.”
When manufacturing engineers had to travel to the engineering department’s offices to consult on a design, the amount of collaboration that could be done was limited by the manufacturing engineer’s availability. With ENOVIA SmarTeam, however, manufacturing engineers use SmartWeb to view developing 3-D designs created in CATIA on a daily basis, with full fly-through capabilities that allow prospective designs to be viewed from any angle or cross-sectioned for interior views.
“Before ENOVIA SmarTeam, I always worried that we missed opportunities because we could only take the time manufacturing could afford to give us,” Homsy said. “Now, all the manufacturing engineer has to do is walk to a terminal in his office to view our designs, which means he is continuously available. He can think about the design every day rather than once or twice a week. We’re identifying and following through on more opportunities than were possible before.”
The benefits, Homsy said, include reduced manufacturing costs, improved design quality, and streamlined manufacturing requirements. The improvements have even been noticed at the top levels of the company.
“The results of PLM-enabled collaboration between engineering and manufacturing have improved our time to market and product quality, cut our production costs, and organized our product data for fast and easy reuse,” observed Martin Brassard, Vice President and General Manager of the Landing Gear division of Héroux Devtek. “We can definitely see the benefits of this investment in our financials.”
CATIA, which engineering uses to generate the 3-D designs it shares with manufacturing via ENOVIA SmarTeam SmartWeb, has become a prerequisite for success in the aerospace industry, Homsy said. “The aerospace industry is practically all on CATIA, so if you don’t have it, you may not even be considered for the job,” he said.
Because CATIA has become an industry standard, having it makes working with outside partners significantly easier, Homsy said. Héroux Devtek can take an OEM’s CATIA design and begin working on it immediately, without the delays and difficulties involved in translating data from one format to another. It also can work more closely with OEMs earlier in the design stage, helping them identify cost-saving opportunities and changes that will improve design quality and increase Héroux Devtek’s value-add.
John Doud of Dassault Systèmes wrote this article for Aerospace Engineering.