Streamlining the Path to MBD: How to Improve Product Definition Accuracy in the Supply Chain

Today’s manufacturing landscape is a fragmented, yet interconnected ecosystem of producers and consumers. Members of this ecosystem have constantly created physical and digital products to be consumed both internally by their engineering teams, as well as externally by their supply chain customers.

Manufacturers that produce physical components and assemblies often have unique internal challenges when compared to the challenges of the external suppliers who specify these manufactured products into their projects. This scenario also applies to digital data used to manufacture those physical products.

To streamline this process, there is opportunity to improve the accuracy of product definition in the supply chain with Model-Based Definition (MBD) as part of a larger Model-Based Enterprise (MBE). Think of MBD as the Digital Twin (a virtual representation of what has been produced) of any part. Said MBD captures design, manufacturing, and quality requirements within 3D space that can be both visually viewed by humans, but most importantly can be consumed by software. MBD / MBE is just as critical for a manufacturer as it is for a consumer in the supply chain.

In the eBook I wrote with CADENAS PARTsolutions entitled Parts Management 301: How Engineering Teams Achieve MBD Using Parts Management Tools, I discuss in detail the impacts of MBE on both producers and consumers of parts, providing pragmatic solutions that any manufacturing organization can implement for their benefit when they are tackling the concept of the digital twin and a highly interconnected ecosystem.

Some highlights from the eBook follow:

Manufacturing Information That is Never Obsolete
Manufacturing engineers at Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) deal in parts, lots of parts. These parts can be distinguished as three basic part types: “your parts” (intellectual property), “someone else’s parts” (commercial or supplier parts), and “standard parts” (fasteners, fittings, etc.).

The question becomes how MBD is represented in each of those part types. MBD is the future of how an organization will store and maintain its designs. By creating a centralized source of detailed information for each design, everyone in an organization will see an improved, accurate, and consistent method to keep track of CAD models. It seems like a lot to do, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds.

Parts Management 301: How Engineering Teams Achieve MBD Using Parts Management Tools

The crux of MBD is that accurate, 3D digital models should reside in one place and fuel all engineering activities for an organization throughout the entire product development lifecycle. Models in these systems are “living” documents, yet under proper change management control, can be created and edited in one place. This ensures that an entire organization stays on the same page and receives the same information.

MBD data maintained in a central source never becomes obsolete because it is continuously maintained from the beginning to the end of a part’s (and assembly’s) lifecycle. The eBook goes on to share how MBD supports the changes, revisions, and maintenance of parts throughout a fully integrated enterprise.

A Data Path You Can Absolutely Trust
By combining the precision of native file imports, the information made standard in MBD and the centralized access of MBE, organizations have a trusted, maintained, and structured database in which to manage and produce their parts.

With many data translations, metadata and annotations are lost. This loss of traceability leads to a lack of repeatability and doesn’t provide users with an easy way to transfer “someone else’s” part directly into a bill of materials. The export from a native file to a neutral file format, such as STEP, is useful for transferring the geometry of a part, but does not always maximize its efficiency for reuse, or guarantee interoperability.

Data interoperability is the consistency needed to make a 3D model accessible across many processes, parties, and systems. Only MBD ensures full functionality between different CAD formats and the transfer of data without the loss of usefulness. Traceability is the way users can verify the history and any changes made to a part during its life cycle, including design intent information. Traceability all the way back to the original design authority allows engineers to reuse a part in future designs or to simply reorder a part from a manufacturer.

Best-in-class organizations will recognize that a trusted and highly accurate source of “someone else’s” parts is game changing.

Switching to MBD
Implementing MBD does not mean that 2D drawings are anywhere near becoming extinct, and it’s true that smaller parts could be drawn up quicker than they could be defined in MBD. But, when dealing with complex assemblies consisting of many parts, it helps to have all of the pieces defined in 3D models at your fingertips, waiting to be dropped into a design. Automating mundane repeated design tasks liberates designers to focus on more critical engineering solutions.

It really comes down to fostering a streamlined workflow where small-scale and large-scale organizations can benefit from a centralized source of traceable information. The future of
engineering demands great results and less time spent re-creating the same parts, or searching for needed parts.

Realizing its many benefits, the engineering world is making the switch to Model-Based Definition. When it comes to the implementation of MBD, there is no overnight quick-fix, and it does take time to get it off the ground. But, with the dedication and commitment of an organization, MBD can completely overhaul the process of creating and sharing part and assembly models and resulting products.

For more information on the free CADENAS PARTsolutions eBook that contains much more MBD information you can use, click here:  Parts Management 301: How Engineering Teams Achieve MBD Using Parts Management Tools.

You’ll have the opportunity to visit both CADENAS PARTsolutions and Action Engineering at the 2018 3D CIC in Golden, Colorado on October 15-18, 2018.

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