BAE Systems synchronizes assembly planning to procurement with DELMIA
BAE Systems is a global defense and security company with approximately 100,000 employees worldwide and 2010 sales of £22.4 billion (US$ 34.6 billion). The company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and support services. In Sweden, BAE Systems' core business is the manufacture of combat vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, artillery systems, naval guns, intelligent ammunitions and distributed simulation and training solutions.
Logistics planning and material procurement must be strictly controlled if production costs are to be kept in check. "One of the biggest challenges with the production of vehicles of this complexity is the necessity to have all parts and materials at the production site on time and ready for assembly," explained Andreas Branthsson, Head of Production Engineering BAE Systems. There are two ways of achieving this. Either materials are purchased at the same time, stored on-site and used when needed or the materials can be purchased when needed and according to a predefined production schedule that takes into account the evolution of the vehicle as it is assembled. "It's clear that if we buy materials that do not need to be used before days or even weeks, we end up tying up our capital needlessly," Branthsson said. "It's wiser to align the money we spend to our assembly planning and to procure parts as we need them."
Linking process planning to procurement
BAE Systems' ERP system manages material procurement but with the disadvantage that there is no link to the assembly planning. To remedy this, BAE Systems opted for Dassault Systèmes' DELMIA for process planning and linked this information to its ERP system for material ordering. "In the past, we have procured materials to the assembly line, and to secure the production, safety times were used. That gave the disadvantage that material came in early with stock-accumulation costs as a consequence. DELMIA enables us to determine with better precision when the materials will be needed and consequently, when they should be bought," Branthsson said. "We can automatically publish the planning of a vehicle defined in DELMIA to our ERP system. Once published in the ERP system, planning engineers can order the necessary materials. The logistics is much more precise."
Virtual interference checking and assembly visualization
Prior to DELMIA, an assembly planning was described as text-based BOM lists in BAE Systems' ERP system. The lists were long and required long experience to be properly used. Now, a process engineer works in a 3D- based environment. It is a clear advantage to be able to see the actual parts and the vehicle as it is being assembled. "Interference checking can be performed to virtually validate an assembly sequence before actual assembly," Branthsson said. "And we can monitor the materials used as we go along, so that we are sure not to forget any parts."
In addition, a system for automatic creation of assembly instruction sheets has been built based on data from DELMIA. In the past, the assembly instruction sheet was created manually. Now, the process engineer simply opens a web browser, types in the address of the work instruction web server and the order number of the vehicle. The web server will look up the part number from the order number and send a request to the web service of the DELMIA Manufacturing Hub. About a minute later, a response in XML will be generated, which will be transformed into an assembly instruction using Microsoft Business reporting. This report will be printed and brought to the factory. "Going from DELMIA to our ERP system enables us to export complete routings from the DELMIA Manufacturing Hub, which can contain up to 250 operations. We have precise material allocation for each operations from the BOM, providing us with an exact planning in the ERP system."
“DELMIA helps us do the right thing in the early stages instead of doing it later, when it would cost us much more to correct. DELMIA gives us a finer routing than we had before.”
Head of Production Engineering, BAE Systems
Optimized work sequence for assembly
Prior to using DELMIA, BAE Systems' engineers needed to have the complete process planning in the ERP system before they could generate a work sequence for the final assembly line. "Today, we can balance and fix everything before sending the information to the ERP system," Branthsson said. "DELMIA helps us do the right thing in the early stages instead of doing it later, when it would cost us much more to correct. DELMIA gives us a finer routing than we had before. The ERP system now has all the right information, because it was first corrected and optimized in DELMIA."
The ability to plan several similar products together is another advantage with DELMIA. For its latest vehicle, BAE Systems defined a planning, containing 22,000 instances, in record time. Based on the existing planning for a similar vehicle, which was a variant of the new vehicle to be assembled, BAE engineers used commonality functions in DELMIA to quickly recapture 95% of the planning and only tweak the remaining 5%. "This is another example where DELMIA helped BAE Systems save considerable time," Branthsson concluded.