Newsroom: Press release

EDM/PDM system will cut welding equipment manufacturer's costs by over $1million annually.


Wolverhampton
15 December 1998. For immediate release.
Ref. NDM 137/98

Implementation of the KONFIG® CM (formally CENTRA 2000®) electronic document and product data management (EDM/PDM) system will save Lincoln Electric Holdings at least $1 million in its first year of operation. This is the main finding of a recently completed six-month pilot project which compared the use of KONFIG® CM with the use of paper-based drawings and documents at the company.

As a result of the successful pilot project, Lincoln Electric has ordered additional 'seats' of the KONFIG® CM software, together with system integration and implementation services, bringing the total value of the system at the company to date to over $500,000. Even so, Lincoln Electric expects the system to pay for itself through cost savings and reduced lead-times within eight months of its full implementation throughout the company.

Based in Cleveland, Ohio and with UK manufacturing facilities in Sheffield, Wolverhampton and Luton, Lincoln Electric is a world leader in the design and manufacture of welding systems, plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment and industrial electric motors. The company has been using 3D CAD modelling since 1989 and has recently upgraded to and standardised on the Microsoft Windows-native solid modelling system, Solid Edge.

However, until the EDM/PDM pilot project began, the flow of product information was a strictly paper-based process, with CAD drawings being the sole means of communication between the design engineering and manufacturing departments. Although this worked well enough in the early years, when the company was introducing only three new products a year, its limitations became increasingly apparent as the company grew.

In recent years Lincoln Electric has been introducing 45 completely new products annually. As a result, the production of drawings and print copies had begun to be a major bottleneck, which inevitably led to version control problems. Furthermore, with the paper-based system, the change request process was typically taking three months to complete while paper drawings were passed sequentially along the review and sign-off process.

With full implementation of KONFIG® CM on the basis of the pilot project, Lincoln Electric is confident of reducing its change request approval process from three months to two weeks through the use of KONFIG® CM's workflow automation and management facilities. This alone will account for some 30% of the anticipated annual cost savings. Further savings will come from an increase in parts re-use brought about through greatly improved access to product information. The company conservatively estimates a 10% reduction in the need to create new parts, with consequent savings in the cost of designing, documenting, manufacturing, stocking and servicing parts.

Yet more savings will come from a significant reduction in the need to produce paper drawings, where the demand for print copies is currently running at between 15,000 and 18,000 copies per month.

However, the greatest savings for Lincoln Electric will come from a shortening of the product development cycle by some six weeks from the average project duration of 13.5 months. This is expected to account for around 50% of the overall $1 million annual savings, through a reduction in the hours per week spent by engineers searching for drawings and performing other non-engineering, paperwork tasks and by getting products to market that much sooner as a result, thereby generating incremental gross profit.

In order to fully realise all of the expected benefits and savings, the implementation programme includes the integration of KONFIG® CM with other software used by Lincoln Electric, specifically the Solid Edge CAD system, the AutoView 3D viewing program, the VeriBest printed circuit board (PCB) design system and the SAP R3 enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Integrating the CAD system and the 3D viewer with KONFIG® CM is due to be completed shortly, after which KONFIG® CM engineers will begin to populate the EDM/PDM system's database and build the product structure. Full system implementation is expected in the first half of next year.

Company background


Centra Technology Ltd. is the wholly owned UK subsidiary of Auto-Trol Technology Corporation of Denver, Colorado, a 40 year old computer-aided engineering and technical publishing software developer and systems integrator. From its headquarters in Wolverhampton, Centra Technology Ltd. sells and supports Auto-Trol's KONFIG® CM (formally CENTRA 2000®) and Tech Illustrator software suites as well as the GEOSTATION® petroleum exploration and production geographic information system (GIS).

ENDS

For further information, contact:
Neil McLeod, Tel/Fax: 01666 504293, e-mail: neil_mcleod@compuserve.com
or Barry Jones, Tel: 01902 824282, Fax: 01902 824058, e-mail: barry@centra-tech.co.uk.