Everyone knows the Wright brothers as the inventors of the modern aeroplane. However, not everyone is familiar with the reason they won the title. It was not that their machine was the first ever to fly, but because it was the first one that could be controlled while in the air. Every aircraft built since has had controls to roll wings right or left, pitch the nose up or down and veer the nose side to side.
Aerospace is one of the most demanding industries in the world today. To keep up with the market pressures, manufacturers have to ensure everything they do is as precise as clockwork.
Nobody knows this better than Meggitt, a global engineering group specialising in extreme environment products and sub-systems for the defence, aerospace and energy markets.
Companies that operate in such onerous environments have very strict design, test and compliance requirements. When these spread across a large team based in different locations, document control can become a bit of a nightmare. Add more than forty years worth of historical data and drawings to the mix and the situation becomes even more delicate.
To find and implement the right software for the job, UK and Swiss divisions of Meggitt came to Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) specialist Design Rule for advice.
“Our two main objectives were to improve document control and get our teams based in different locations to collaborate more effectively using a shared platform,” explained Andy Lodge, Design Engineering Manager at Meggitt UK. “The move to a new software platform was also an opportunity to review and improve our existing document archive.”
Alongside its French and Swiss partner Visiativ, value-added reseller of Dassault Systèmes, Design Rule, coordinated the project in the UK and made recommendations of how PLM software could help Meggitt achieve its objectives.
Improving electronic storage
“Because the Meggitt history is so long and fruitful, we have over a million of drawings and documents, some of which go back the first half of the last century,” continued Lodge. “ENOVIA went live in September and one of the benefits we saw straight away was an improvement in efficiency when it came to locating files and performing admin tasks. Just to get an idea of how complex our document archive was, we used to have over a million documents spread across 15,000 folders. Some of them were duplicates or had become obsolete.
Reconciling multiple sites
“Perhaps the most ground-breaking aspect of the project consisted in the multiple site implementations,” explained Bob Hillier, Managing Director of Design Rule. “This is where the partnership with Visiativ really made a difference because it allowed us to take advantage of ENOVIA’s flexibility to adapt the software to each division’s culture, structure and way of doing things.
“Although we are part of the same company, the two divisions have different company cultures and backgrounds,” explained Lodge. “One of the biggest challenges was harmonising the requirements between the two sites. Design Rule, Visiativ and our IT departments worked closely for several months to align the project from a hardware and software point of view.”
Where PLM meets CAD
In the near future, Meggitt is hoping to get more departments and divisions to use the ENOVIA software, turning it into one of the main communication and management tools of the company. Meggitt is planning to move beyond document management and employ PLM for project management and bill of materials management, while also integrating a collaborative CAD software platform into the system.
Implementing PLM software is about more than the advantages of doing things better, it’s about being in control, anticipating organisation and market challenges and responding to them in the best way possible. Just like on-board controls make an aeroplane modern, PLM software makes companies smarter and more agile.