The design of a roof has a significant influence on comfort within a building and the tiles that comprise it are crucial to the way that it withstands extreme temperatures, water, snow and UV light. Having produced roofing materials for over 90 years, Monier Group is an acknowledged expert. As owner of the Redland brand in the UK, the company makes research and development a priority and uses state-of-the-art software to measure energy performance and condensation risk.
Employing 9,000 people worldwide, Monier Group’s in-house capability extends from product development and design through to testing and manufacturing. Siemens NX mechanical design software and Teamcenter product lifecycle management solutions underpin every stage in this process. Teams in the UK and Germany use NX for the design and analysis of tiles, roofing components and chimney and ventilation systems as well as the development of tooling for the machines that manufacture these products. NX CAM creates the machine instructions for tooling, which is manufactured in the UK and distributed to the group’s clay and concrete plants worldwide.
Simon Reeve is IT Manager of Monier Technical Centre Ltd. “Over the years the specialists at OnePLM have demonstrated the breadth of their IT knowledge. Their skills and understanding have enabled them to fully support our CAD systems and their technical expertise was invaluable when we upgraded to the latest versions of NX and Teamcenter. We wanted to maintain the good product data management which we already had; we also wanted to benefit from the latest functionality of the new software releases. One of the immediate gains was that we were able to consolidate our licences and this immediately reduced our costs and simplified compliance management.”
At the same time Monier was upgrading server software, operating system, database and various support applications. “We knew that it would be a challenging time so we did a huge amount of planning and allowed sufficient time to do thorough integration testing on a system running alongside our main system. With onsite consultancy and staff training from OnePLM, we were able to optimise our CAM processes to significantly reduce programming times utilising the new application functionality.” The upgrade was successfully completed over a long weekend.
Teamcenter now encompasses all drawing legacy data and legacy BOMS from various business systems. As more information was imported into Teamcenter the structure of internal folders was improved so that data could easily be exported to an Open Source shopping application in order to create an Internal Tooling Catalogue for different business units. As Reeve comments, “In some cases we are trying to find something we made before so we can take it as a base part and reuse it because this is more efficient. For example on the tooling side we make a lot of unique parts yet we also reproduce many versions of the same item. One of the problems we occasionally encountered was that we had parts stored in various locations and it was possible to open an assembly and find something missing. Now that everything is stored in the same database it is much easier. Even though technology has moved on, Teamcenter gives us access to all of our data from many years ago. We probably have 500,000 design files and can easily open old files, save them in a new format and reuse the information.”
Full protected web access is now available for selected users of NX and Teamcenter. Design engineers travel worldwide and when they visit a plant for manufacturing trials of a new line they can remotely pick up drawings and their own files from any location through a secure process. With their workstation laptops they can securely take a file from Teamcenter, make amendments and reimport it as the latest version. Administrative and purchasing staff can access drawings held within Teamcenter, via the Teamcenter web interface which is configured to show them only the latest version.
Teamcenter encompasses all design history and design changes and in the long term will take over management of engineering sign off from an in-house customised application. “Over the years Monier’s in-house IT team developed a range of bespoke workflows and software packages simply because there was no suitable application available off the shelf”, explains Reeve. “As technology has developed we have gradually removed customisation and continue to do so. Our aim now is to allow NX and Teamcenter to manage as much as possible so that future upgrades are simple and straightforward.”
Some of the raw material blocks used for tooling have a significant value so there is no scope for errors and Reeve reports that CAM processes have improved. “The new versions of NX and Teamcenter implemented a new CAM management process and although this required a major rewrite of CAM post-processing routines and some consultancy help from OnePLM and Siemens it resulted in reduction in programming times. We now have a clear view of all CAM files and CAM programming revisions and a stricter change management procedure with the option to save CAM revisions separately. This means that we can create a new CAM programme or select any that we have previously used.”
“Managing the group’s design information is an important responsibility,” comments Reeve. “The data inside NX and Teamcenter represents the company’s investment in R&D and the competitive advantage it has built up over the years. With upgrade assistance from our technology partner OnePLM we have improved accessibility and ease of use so that this body of data is now providing even more value to the company and will continue to do so in the future. We are now discussing our future IT strategy with OnePLM with a view to us working even more closely together.”
"The data inside NX and Teamcenter represents the company’s investment in R&D and the competitive advantage it has built up over the years."
Simon Reeve, IT Manager
Monier Technical Centre Ltd
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