Teamcenter visualization software and the JT file format enable supplier relationship-management opportunities that make a lasting impression.
Magna Powertrain is a premier supplier for the automotive industry with full capabilities in powertrain and drivetrain design, development, testing and manufacturing. The company??s products include all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive components and systems, transmissions and transmission components, engines and engine components, and axle and chassis modules. Its customer list includes all the major global automakers such as BMW, Daimler Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Renault, Porsche, Honda, Nissan and VW
Magna Powertrain employs more than 11,000 people worldwide in five design and engineering centers, two tooling centers and 34 manufacturing facilities (including two start-up facilities in China). With customers, suppliers and its own facilities located all over the world, Magna Powertrain constantly needs to transfer design data over the internet. These are traditionally CAD files and are often very large (50 to 100 megabytes). The company typically uses Autoweb??s services for this. ??But any time you are transferring large files, there??s the chance that a file can be corrupted,?? says Keith Snyder, Design Services supervisor at Magna Powertrain. When a data transfer glitch happened at a particularly critical time, the company took advantage of what could have been a customer-relations disaster to try a better approach. This turned out so well that as a result, the company is extending the strategy ? moving toward more advanced online collaboration throughout the entire organization, using fuller, richer 3D information in the form of JT rather than 3D CAD models and 2D drawings.
JT to the rescue
“It started out as a typical Wednesday morning,” explains Snyder. In the weeks prior, the company??s best housing modeler, a product engineer and one of the most seasoned lead designers had worked feverishly to complete a new transfer case design to meet a critical deadline. ??It was a response to a sales quote for a client located on the opposite side of the globe, twelve hours ahead of our time zone,” Snyder says. “The night before the meeting, we had attempted to transfer a huge CAD assembly model to the customer.” Snyder was peacefully sipping his morning coffee when he read a panicked email from the engineering manager telling him that the overnight data transfer had failed.
The customers in Australia were all set to come in early for the design review; the engineers in North America were planning to stay late – the only way for the two teams to connect at the same time. Everything was ready for this very important meeting – except the most important component, the design data. That’s when Snyder decided to try something new. “We had recently purchased several UGS Teamcenter’ software solutions including the visualization functionality,” he says. “We had also attended the regional UGS Users Conference and were introduced to the JT format as a means of communicating 3D data without the size of the original CAD file. Armed with that information, I knew we could prepare a lightweight JT assembly in time for the web conference.We could also generate JT files of the chassis envelope the client had provided for the initial packaging study.”
Visualization software with no learning curve
Even though it was one of the company??s first applications of the Teamcenter technology, everything worked smoothly. ??Exporting JT files was easy,?? Snyder explains. ??In fact, it was quite intuitive. As expected, we simply selected the ??File/Export?? utility and the files were created.?? The engineers had just a few hours to look at the new software, but they were able to effectively host the web conference later that day, exploiting the rich Teamcenter visualization functionality let both parties view and manipulate the assembly model in real time. ??The engineering staff said the customer was very happy with the presentation,?? Snyder adds. ??It was their first exposure to this type of web collaboration and they were impressed that we were using it.??
That success encouraged Magna Powertrain to implement the Teamcenter visualization functionality more broadly. In addition to using it for design collaboration around the globe, Snyder believes it will also improve communication between in-house design and manufacturing since 3D JT models provide so much more information than 2D drawings. Teamcenter and JT will also aid in collaboration with customers that don??t use NX as their CAD system. ??We can use the JT format to build assemblies using Daimler Chrysler??s Catia data, for example,?? Snyder says. ??The JT format maintains precise geometry such as mass properties, allowing you to do things like dimensional studies and clearance analysis. Yet it??s small enough to send anytime, anywhere.?? Snyder notes that his company did consider other viewing technology but went with Teamcenter because it has more functionality. ??Teamcenter is one of two programs we looked at that can support geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) feature control frames,?? he explains. ??That??s very important to our industry.??
With Teamcenter, Magna Powertrain is developing an infrastructure for reliable worldwide, online collaboration based on rich 3D design data. It also positions Magna as a leader that adopts the latest technology. ??All that, and the solution is easy to use,?? Snyder adds. ??Shouts out to Teamcenter??s visualization products, and thanks to UGS for the right tools at the right time.?