Often, when we talk about product development, we focus on the design cycle—from idea to manufacturing. We know most product lifecycle costs are committed during the design phase, and so product development designers and engineers generally add design for manufacturing and assembly to their long list of concerns.
What we don’t talk about much is what happens after the product rolls off the line. I’m not talking about customer support or end-of-life/obsolescence, but rather what happens before your life-changing ice cream scoop even reaches the customer’s hands. I’m talking about palletizing, storing, loading, and transport—aka, logistics.
Actiw Systems says that logistics can eat up anywhere from 10-50% of product revenues. And that’s the challenge this Finland-based supplier of automated warehouse and loading solutions aims to address.
Check out Actiw’s LoadMatic.
The LoadMatic automates and speeds truck loading. It can even self-adjust for trucks that aren’t perfectly aligned with its conveyor. Actiw says manufacturers and warehouses that use its automation need less storage space, fewer forklifts, and fewer loading docks.
Actiw products are big, obviously, and made up of a lot of parts. And with a growing list of plum Fortune 100 customers (e.g., Kraft, Frito-Lay, Proctor & Gamble), Actiw wanted to make sure it was optimizing its own processes. So recently, the company looked closer at its large assembly management, as well as how internal departments were working with external suppliers.
Consulting with a PTC authorized reseller (Convia), Actiw engineers adopted PTC Creo to enable top-down design. That enables the company to define a product assembly, and create a skeleton model. Multiple engineers can then work on sections of the design at the same time, each focusing on their own components.
While top-down design can be essential to a concurrent engineering environment, so is data management. At Actiw, development takes place in multiple sites and often with subcontractors. You can imagine the opportunities for chaos.
Who’s got the most recent model? Who changed my model? Why? What exactly did they change? And who signed off on all this? Those are the questions that product data management (PDM) can answer, or even prevent.
Actiw started using PTCWindchill PDMLink, too. Web-based for easy enterprise-wide access, PTCWindchill PDMLink supports geographically dispersed teams. So, engineers anywhere can quickly find, lock, checkout, and download a part or assembly in the model or drawings, ensuring nobody else is working on it at the same time. Partners and vendors with access can upload their own models and drawings, whether PTC Creo or STEP file or IGES file. When they check their CAD data in, the system records their changes as well as comments about why the change was made, if applicable.
And because Actiw uniquely understands how processes impact profits, the company has also integrated its PDM system with the ERP system. So the CAD data stays with the manufacuring BOM throughout manufacturing.
As a result of the PTC solutions, Actiw has improved its collaboration between all of its sites and external suppliers, improved large assembly management, and improved time to market.
Smart company. Also, they have a wicked sense of humor.