Generating 3D PDFs from the cloud
Since the configurator runs in the Internet, Siemens LDA decided to also provide the CAD generation and conversion services from the cloud. Both Rulestream and NX are installed on three application servers hosted at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Load balancers ensure even load distribution when generating the CAD assemblies and providing the various neutral formats. Siemens LDA offers its customers a number of different options, all of which are generated using the same process. 3D PDF conversion runs on a separate server, which is used by the three application servers. The cloud infrastructure can be scaled up to four CPU cores and is completely virtualized.
The development staff put a lot of effort into simplifying the product models, e.g. by automatically removing associative relationships. This process takes place when data is exported from Teamcenter, i.e. before it is transferred to the cloud servers. In addition, the processes in Rulestream and NX have been fully automated on the cloud servers that are responsible for assembly of the configured product models and derivation of the JT data. NX runs, so to speak, "mindlessly" in command line mode.
As Pathmanathan explains, the simplified geometry is not generated retrospectively as a separate model: "We work with a master model and define in the current process which status can be shown to the customer and which level of detail is required for manufacturing, for example." The simplified models are stored in a separate reference set, which can then be exported. Götz goes on to say that what adds to the charm is the fact that the models are created during the design process and that changes immediately flow into the DTK, which – unlike before – always corresponds to the delivery version. The NX data in the cloud is updated once a month.
Time savings of 30 percent
In cooperation with the product developers, the project team first introduced a new motor group in the configurator, which was launched on the market in the autumn of last year. Following the positive experience gained, the solution is now being used for all new products. Existing series that still have a longer lifespan will also be gradually incorporated. "The aim is for every product that generates significant revenue to run in the new infrastructure," says Götz.
The new process means time savings of 30 percent due to fact that the products no longer have to be re-modeled and design engineers are relieved of unproductive ancillary activities. But that is not all: Today, the engineers themselves use the configurator to make customer-specific adaptations based on a standard configuration, to check their customized designs for buildability and to make them available to customers in simplified form. To this end, Siemens LDA has extended the configurator so that certain user groups can configure complete products, including everything inside, and convert them into 3D PDFs.
"One of the strengths of the PDF Generators 3D is the enormous flexibility if offers when it comes to supporting different use cases," says Hieke. The PROSTEP software is, for example, not only capable of converting CAD data into 3D PDFs but also into HTML5 so that it can be viewed with a web browser. Siemens LDA wants to use this functionality to provide DTK users with a preview of the PMI information. This means that they would no longer have to generate a 3D PDF in order to check the dimensions. "HTML5 also offers the advantage that the 3D models can easily be displayed on mobile devices in order to support assembly, for example," adds Götz. Workers in motor manufacturing already use tablets to access the MES system for example.