All engineers can recognise the benefits that totally seamless integrated computing environments can offer and are racing to embrace parts of the e-engineering technology that suit their needs. Horsham-based Implant Division of Applied Materials are a perfect example.
Richard Sanders, the Engineering Services manager and Neil Streeter, CAD System Manager have been using CAD, ERP and MRP software for several years and are now looking to integrate the systems further.
Applied Materials makes ion implantation machines. The size of a small room, a typical machine comprises a linear accelerator that creates a beam of charged atoms, or ions in a vacuum. The ion beam is then shaped and directed by a large magnet and then focused toward the surface of a semiconductor wafer, embedding ions into that material in order to alter its near surface properties.
`The equipment we design covers robotics, chamber design and vacuum systems, control systems and software; we have gas systems, water cooling systems, pumps and heat exchangers, a whole lot of different types of subsystem, ` says Sanders.
Earlier Implanters were designed using CADDs5, but for cost constraints, the company converted over last year to SolidWorks and a lot of the older CAD models were converted to SolidWorks files. A new Implanter has been designed entirely around SolidWorks.
`In 1996 the design team was given a budget of £100,000 for 10 CAD seats, so we had to look at PC based systems such as Solidworks, SolidEdge and Mechanical Desktop which were the only systems available at that time for that price. We chose Solidworks out of the three and since then have added another 40 systems,’ he says.
Aside from the design team in Horsham, Applied Materials Implant Division also has small engineering concerns in California and Japan requiring the Horsham team to work in conjunction with designers in both countries.
Unfortunately, collaborative working over the Internet was not an option that could even be entertained by the company due to the large files sizes of the assemblies. Even the design team based in Horsham must work from versions of the design locally from their own clients rather than from a central server. Streeter explains that even with a 100Mbit/sec Ethernet network linking his beefy 600MHz pentium machines to the central server, download time would still be prohibitively lengthy.
Collaborating internationally presented its own set of practical challenges, aside from technical ones. `Our designers in Japan are going home when we start work, so any collaboration time is limited to perhaps one or two hours per day. When we go home, California has just started work. Again, a very limited time to collaborate,’ says Sanders ` So we replicate the data each night from our server onto theirs,’ he adds. `Since they then have the most current data in front of them, what would Internet collaboration tools buy us?’
In addition to Solidworks, Cosmosworks is used for FEA analysis and IPA as well as Working Model to view animated sections of the design. `It is very easy to output the files to packages from Solidworks because the packages are totally integrated. It’s a button push to move from one package to another,’ says Sanders.
While a designer is working on an assembly in Solidworks, he can animate the assembly within IPA. The animation is used to check tolerances as well as to demonstrate to individuals in manufacturing how parts of the machine should be set up.
Cosmosworks FEA package was used on chamber design to test the movement of the chambers under vacuum to understand how the sides deflect. `We have used the software to analyse components with a heavy load – frames and struts,’ says Sanders. However, the analysis is a little limited in its capability. `We would like to perform a thermal analysis under vacuum and are unsure whether our current software has the capability – if not we might have to subcontract that work.`
Applied Materials is now looking at a much more integrated design tool set. `With a totally integrated system, you are not just looking at creating the initial design, you have to look at the management of the design through the whole process, into manufacturing and out into the supply chain. That’s what we want to do, ` says Sanders. That adds up to a totally integrated CAD, ERP and MRP solution.
The company already has a CAD system that is integrated with an Co-Create Workmanager PDM system that is enterprise based. `We are now looking at a very closely integrated toolset that allows us to leverage the design information right across the organisation,’ says Sanders.
The Co-create Workmanager is integrated within the Solidworks system, so the company can load CAD files to the database, open CAD files from the database, and insert old components into new designs directly. The system manages all the files and engineering drawings.
`When we complete a design in Solidworks and save it on the ERP database, we would like to use that design data to push a bill of materials into the MRPII system. This system will then look at every item on the BOM to backward schedule lead times and drive the ordering process,’ says Sanders. There are two big advantages to the integration of the CAD/PDM system with the MRP system. One is the fact that data does not have to be re-entered, and secondly, there is no chance of entering the wrong data by mistake.
`Eventually, we will be working very much in line with the automotive model, ` he adds. `Parts will be delivered and a bar coding system will drive re-ordering and payment. That’s where Operations will start to see the benefits of the integration of these systems, as well as shorter design development cycles in Engineering, ` he concludes.
Applied Materials Tel: 01403 222 264
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