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issue: June 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine

Case Study: Accelerated Design of Gas Appliance Components
Web Exclusive Case Study: Turning Up the Product Development Heat

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BSI designs gas appliance components using CAD, PDM, and rapid prototyping to shave a week off each design-test iteration and shrink cycle times by up to 50%.

Burner Systems used Siemens PLM's Solid Edge software to design and output CAD renderings of this thermostatic oven control body and thermostatic oven control.

Burner Systems International (BSI) is a leading global supplier of components, assemblies and system solutions for the gas appliance industry. With six facilities operating in five countries, the company serves a broad spectrum of OEMs making gas-fueled cooking and heating appliances, with a product line that includes burners, heating manifolds and assemblies, regulators, thermostats and valves.

The large size of the white goods market makes it a highly competitive arena for suppliers such as BSI and the company’s continued success relies on bringing innovative technology to market before the competition can. Accelerating the new product development process is a constant effort, and one that is complicated by the fact that, following a number of acquisitions, its product development efforts not happen all over the world.

In addition, its products are highly regulated. “Our products are used to burn a combustible fuel in home appliances,” says Tim Frost, BSI’s vice president for global product development. “They must meet strict standards for safety and reliability.”

Rapid design-test iterations

Burner Systems also used the software to design and output CAD renderings of this surface burner system.

“Because we have to meet ANSI and a host of other regulations, we have a highly iterative design process," Frost explains. "We develop a model, build a prototype, test the prototype, and then use the test results to modify the design. This process can happen many times before we finalize the design.”

Knowing the process would always be iterative, Frost looked for ways to accelerate each design-test iteration. He did this by establishing a product development process based on solidmodeling, rapid prototyping, and collaborative product data management (cPDM). The software components of this system include the Solid Edge CAD solution and the Teamcenter Express cPDM system, both from Siemens PLM Software.

One of the key elements of the new process is Frost’s belief that it’s better (and faster) for engineers to communicate design intent by creating their own CAD models. In this respect, Solid Edge has turned out to be a good choice. “Our old business model had an engineer come up with a concept and then try to figure out how to communicate that to a designer proficient in a 3D system such as Pro/E or Catia,” Frost says. “That was often difficult. Solid Edge’s ease of use allows our engineers to work directly in the CAD system to begin with, communicating the creative design intent much faster.”

The software is so ease to use in fact, that the company implemented it four times at companies it had acquired, and did so without formal training. "People learned to use it from the tutorials that are included with the program," Frost says.

In the current product development process, CAD data goes directly to the rapid prototyping system. With engineers now creating their own CAD models and the fact that drawings are no longer needed for the production of the prototypes, Frost estimates that the company saves approximately one week on each design-test iteration. This can translate into as much as a 50% reduction in the development cycle, depending on the product line. As Frost explains, “Some products benefit more from the efficiencies of this process than others.”

The third element of the BSI’s product development process, the Teamcenter Express cPDM system, became necessary as the volume of 3D data grew. In addition to data the company created itself over the years, it accumulated much more data, in multiple formats, through acquisitions of other companies. In addition to having a wealth of data to protect and, ideally, leverage in new designs, BSI wanted to make this data easily accessible to others in the company, such as people in purchasing, on the shop floor, in product management, and in sales.

BSI chose the system to replace its previous PDM system, SmarTeam. “We wanted better support and felt it would be better to be using cPDM technology from the same company we turn to for CAD,” Frost explains. “Another factor was that Teamcenter Express is reasonably priced.”

Frost estimates the PDM system accounts for as much as a 20% reduction in product cycle times, primarily through facilitating collaboration between global facilities, Frost says.

Another benefit is that non-engineers don’t need access to a CAD system to see drawings and solid models. Frost says it lets the company put this information in front of decision makers. "It also makes the information searchable. That is big. That ability to intelligently interrogate the data – lets people make decisions on their own.”

The PDM system also helps BSI make the most of CAD data inherited with the acquisitions. It is possible to build virtual mockups in the system using multi-CAD data. “It used to be that if I were going to use a valve from our plant in France, I would have them send me an IGES version, and then I’d use that to create a Solid Edge file that I would insert that into my Solid Edge assembly,” Frost says. “With Teamcenter Express, I can insert that original file (in the JT format) directly into the Solid Edge assembly. And with the new version of Solid Edge with Synchronous Technology, we will be able to modify that original file as well."


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