Progress out of a crisis

Despite the bad press, the much-heralded millennium computer crisis could be a blessing in disguise for some manufacturers. It gives them the chance to review and update their IT resources, and focus on how best they can be used to generate a competitive edge. Terex Equipment used the problem as the catalyst for a £2.5m […]

Despite the bad press, the much-heralded millennium computer crisis could be a blessing in disguise for some manufacturers. It gives them the chance to review and update their IT resources, and focus on how best they can be used to generate a competitive edge.

Terex Equipment used the problem as the catalyst for a £2.5m replacement of its ageing IBM mainframe management resource planning (MRP) manufacturing systems and Cadam design and engineering software.

It worked out cheaper for the firm than re-programming its existing software to accommodate the year 2000 date change.

Terex, which supplies a global market for mining, earthmoving and construction industries, now has a SAP R3 enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, together with an I-deas Master Series CAD and engineering environment.

The 22 Hewlett-Packard HP 9000 Unix workstations and 180 PCs of the ERP system are networked via a company wide Ethernet.

Implementation of both systems was completed at the firm’s headquarters in Motherwell, Scotland, earlier this year. They will integrate design and automate large parts of the testing cycle. This should lead to reduced product development times, improved responsiveness, and thus increased competitiveness.

Founded 45 years ago, Terex Equipment is part of the Terex Corporation of the US. It designs and manufactures dump trucks, articulated dump trucks and scrapers, which can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds and carry payloads of up to 91tonnes. Turnover is just over £100m, with worldwide exports accounting for 85% of output. The company has 650 employees.

Terex also operates a sophisticated spares and replacement parts service in Scotland and at two sites in the US. Its computer-controlled facilities allow more than 6,000 items to be picked and dispatched every working day to the Terex worldwide network of distributors.

The company had experience of SDRC’s I-deas through an existing analysis package. But before selecting its drafting, solid modelling and analysis software, several leading computer-aided engineering (CAE) environments were evaluated against Terex’s business objectives of gaining market share through increased responsiveness.

According to Stuart Munro, the CAE project engineer, selection criteria included full integration of design, analysis and manufacturing support in one package and the ability to translate the Cadam drawings directly into the new system.

Terex has an archive of between 25,000 and 30,000 Cadam drawings and because of the relative longevity of its products, it also has an archive of conventional drawings, taking the total to more than 100,000.

`We were greatly impressed by the level of integration and the breadth of the package. It completely eliminates the need for separate draughting, modelling, analysis, and manufacturing systems, which improves data integrity and allows us to make productivity improvements in the design cycle,’ says Munro.

Terex plans to use the I-deas software to control all stages of product development, from concept to the production of numeric control machining programs. Using the design and product simulation capabilities of SDRC’s 3D solid-modelling technology, and its electronic prototyping and embedded analysis capabilities, the company aims to improve market responsiveness and reduce test cycles.

This is critical in a market which buys on reputation for quality, serviceability, life expectancy and full lifecycle running costs. No one wants machines costing £500,000 breaking down or standing idle. Because of the rugged nature of the machines, it can take a year to identify a weakness when testing finished prototypes. `I-deas allows us to spot many of those weaknesses in days, or even hours,’ says Munro. This approach will see problems solved in the design office rather than in the field.

Munro anticipates that this will reduce product development cycles by 10-15%, with productivity similarly improved.

The Windows-type environment is more accessible than the old system, he says. Equally, the engineer is only dictated to by the speed of the machine on his desk – he is not forced to fight for processing time on the mainframe.

I-deas Master Series has more than 90 tightly integrated software modules which automate the mechanical product development process. In other words, working to bring better products to market faster and at a lower cost.

Terex is considering extending the system into the manufacturing process and towards concurrent engineering practices, where different engineers could work on the same project and have their information updated automatically.

In addition, a direct link between I-deas and the ERP systems for interchange of information such as parts list and inventory data, is being developed. This link will increase control over quality, product development, document management, allocation of parts numbers and manufacturing changes. This should be operating by the middle of this year.

`The results will not have quite the full blown functionality of a product data management system, but it will fulfil all our needs,’ says Munro.

One goal of this development will be a PC-based archive of drawings, managed through the functionality of the SAP system, and accessible to anyone at Terex or at its sister companies overseas.

{{Factfile

Software: SAP R/3 ERP system I-deas Master series CAD and engineering environment system from SDRCHardware: 22 Hewlett-Packard HP 9000 Unix workstations 180 PCsFeatures: both systems networked via company-wide Ethernet.Cost: £2.5m}}