ABCO Automation, Inc. designs and builds custom turnkey factory automation systems that enable manufacturers across the globe, including 3M, Goodyear, GE, and Coca-Cola, to overcome manufacturing challenges to achieve excellence. The company has developed a reputation for developing high-quality automation equipment to overcome difficult challenges within increasingly shorter lead times.
In 2010 ABCO added SOLIDWORKS® PDM Professional product data management (PDM) system to automate its use of SOLIDWORKS 3D design software and related development processes to support ongoing growth, tighten revision controls, shorten design cycles, and reduce costs.
Window into Product Development
SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional system quickly gave ABCO greater insight into its operations and enabled the company to automate workflows, both inside and outside of engineering. The company was able to realize productivity gains by shortening design cycles by 35 percent, accelerating time to market by 25 percent, reducing development costs by 20 percent, and cutting costs related to scrap and rework by 55 percent. In addition, ABCO realized an additional 5 percent in efficiency improvements company-wide.
“We’ve developed several methods for pulling design data out of the SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional software system and using it for other purposes,” ABCO CAD Administrator Michael Sveda explains. “For example, we bring data from our PDM system into our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to support associated business functions and utilize Microsoft® SQL Server Reporting Services to dig into PDM’s SQL database and collate that data to generate reports. By leveraging our PDM and ERP systems in this manner, we are able to provide a window into the precise status of any part, assembly or project, at any time in the process.”
Automating Workflows, BOM Generation, and Purchasing
With SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, ABCO has also expanded its workflow automation into other areas, such as changing to a customer’s revision scheme when it differs from ABCO’s, automating the generation of bills of materials (BOMs), and making quoting and purchasing more efficient.
“We created some Microsoft Excel macros that access the raw data in SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional and use it to generate the final BOM information in a format that uploads into our ERP system cleanly and notifies our purchasing agent,” Sveda points out. “In addition to realizing a 50 to 60 percent efficiency improvement in BOM generation, these data mining capabilities make it much easier and faster to order parts, saving additional time and money.”
Reusing Standardized Parts
Every system ABCO develops is a specialized, one-off solution engineered to order, so the potential for design reuse is somewhat limited. Nevertheless, with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, ABCO can identify parts common to most of its systems, so when a need is recognized as similar to systems the company has developed in the past, PDM enables engineers to save time by accessing the old design data for use as a springboard into a new design.
With its proven reputation for delivering dependable, effective solutions that provide customers with a competitive edge by reducing costs and increasing productivity, ABCO’s repeat client base exceeds 90 percent. Click here for the complete ABCO case study.