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Nourishment for a Growing Supply Chain

Nov. 2, 2017
Software that identifies business opportunities (and liabilities) will fuel the prospects of metalcasters seeking to secure a place in the flow of information

If your role in the metalcasting process involves production set-up you certainly have been made aware of process simulation software. If your role is to manage work orders and track work in progress, then enterprise software is more your speed.

If your responsibility is to seek out and secure new business opportunities to create that workflow (and production set-up), your programming of choice may be found in the range of platforms described as “concurrent costing.” This is an approach to project planning used by design engineers to project total costs of development and production, even before final design decisions have been made. The advantages of such an approach should be apparent to foundries and diecasters seeking new work orders, or even new customers.  

Recently Boothroyd Dewhurst, developer of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA®) software, released DFM Concurrent Costing, Version 3.0. Deployed as a cost-analysis tool for engineering and procurement teams, it allows manufacturers to move beyond “price” models, based largely on past bids, to industrial-cost models grounded in scientific test data and studies. The result is a reliable, “should cost” view of the product that offers insight into hidden cost drivers and ways to optimize both design and production.

DFM 3.0 allows OEMs and their suppliers to explore bids in a neutral framework where machine types, speeds, processing sequences, and optimal levels of automation are discussed. This better-informed environment encourages supplier suggestions and deeper, integrated partnerships built around expertise, best-cost practices and shared goals.

The differences between traditional price models and data-driven cost models can be very significant, affecting decisions about what regions or countries a product is moved to for manufacturing. Properly designed and ‘costed’ products are more likely to stay at their original manufacturing location and near existing resources. OEMs and suppliers can collaborate around DFM software to address these and other strategic issues.

DFM analysis—done early in design or during prototyping—reduces time-to-market, impacts direct and indirect costs, and helps optimize product functionality. It can be used by individuals or teams in making trade-off decisions to lower costs.

“We see a rise in procurement personnel joining engineering for the supplier phase of design review,” stated Keith Gilligan, business development manager. “To better serve this new group of users, we’ve enhanced our Manufacturing Profiles feature.  Now, you can compare manufacturing costs across U.S. geographic regions, and then to those in China, with just a few clicks. With more emphasis these days by OEMs on supplier involvement and improved logistics, the Profiles are proving useful. Producing close to your markets is increasingly favored by manufacturers looking to reduce risks and realize stronger profits.”

Highlights of the latest version include:
•  The geometry calculators in DFM 3.0 have been simplified and incorporated into the software’s main response panels. so that users are more supportively guided through a DFM Cost analysis of their parts.
•  The default manufacturing operations and user-based process libraries have been streamlined and a new Test View panel has been added to all the formula windows. Development of customized operations and user processes is faster and easier.
•  The overall look and feel of DFM software has been updated to provide a more cohesive user experience between Design for Assembly (DFA) and DFM should costing.  Performance of the DFA/DFM software link has been improved for more seamless data integration between software packages.
•  Data export of management reports and graphs has been improved so teams can more easily use these DFM Cost results in their spreadsheets and presentations.
•  New batch processing features make it easier and faster to print or export multiple reports and graphs simultaneously.  Multiple CAD models can also be batch processed and geometry imported simultaneously.

The idealized vision of an interactive manufacturing supply chain is shaped around notions of network functionality and secure data exchange. But, in such a vision the value of that data is frequently overlooked. That data is content. It’s nourishment for a growing body of information that will be processed in an “internet of things.”

That data will be — and is already — formed by a complex menu of sources, details, and options. Metalcasters and other manufacturers seeking to grow a position in that supply chain will need some tools to inform them of their opportunities (and liabilities) in such a competitive landscape. A program that identifies “true cost” factors and suggests alternatives will be such a tool as manufacturers coordinate production and workflow within the terms of OEMs guided by Total Cost of Ownership decisionmaking.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)