Digitread becomes industrial partner in an exciting project
The project, which is to be implemented in collaboration with Siemens Marine Solutions in Trondheim and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), will give Norway new skills that it doesn’t yet benefit from.
Siemens Marine Solutions in Trondheim has applied to the Norwegian Research Council for funding for a project in which NTNU and Digitread will work together to automate the Engineer to Order process (ETO).
There are many mechanical engineering businesses that could have much to gain from automating their sales processes. The challenges have often been that sellers have been a little too good at selling without thinking about how the products should be designed. One such example being that it is quite common for engineers to take several months just to calculate what a product should cost before they send out a bid. Many companies could achieve big gains if they used a greater degree of standardization and automation when they make their bids.
– We usually talk about three types of production. Mass production where thousands of units of one product can be produced in one go, Configure to Order (CTO), where one can assemble different standard components in the same way as when configuring an IKEA kitchen online and Engineering to Order (ETO) which is similar to Configure to Order in that it is based on standard components, but unlike CTO, it is possible to change the standard parameters, states Magnus Normann, General Manager at Digitread.
Terje Rølvåg, a professor at the department of product development, hardware and manufacturing at NTNU, adds:
– The parameters entered are interpreted by a rule-based system called Rulestream. This system breaks the rules down so that the dimensions of the various components are correctly formulated in the new design. It is essential in a configuration that the dimensions of the bearing pedestals to the shafts in the transmission are exact to aid perfect positioning of the ribs in the boat. The entire design is remodelled based on the overriding requirements given by Rulestream in a completely automated fashion without a single engineer being involved in the process. The rules are already pre-determined in advance and entered into the system by specialists, he explains.
The objective of the project is to automate sales processes and generate automatic tender documents. The time spent will decrease dramatically:
– Previously, an engineer could potentially take seven weeks to make all the necessary calculations to generate a tender bid; with this method, the bid, with all necessary supporting documents, can be generated within seven minutes, the professor continues.
– Rulestream is an open structure that works and communicates with all other systems, but does require adaptation. Thus, various plug-ins will be developed so that wiring and other technical elements are supported by the system, but also additional plug-ins will be developed partly to ensure communications with ERP-systems. The aim is for all parts of the project to work together.
– We have two Masters students who have learned Rulestream this autumn, the first two people in Norway who have mastered this system and adopted it. The plan is that there will be many theses written about this project. We also have a student taking a PhD. Today, expertise around fully automated ETO-processes is very low throughout Scandinavia, Rølvåg adds.
Siemens Marine Solutions is applying for the project funding, Digitread is the industrial partner and facilitator, while NTNU is the research partner responsible for setting up and developing new solutions. The application was granted by the Norwegian Research Council in January 2017.
– It is estimated that the project will last for three or four years. Siemens Marine Solutions gains a tool out of the project that they can use, and in addition, Masters and PhD graduates will come away from the project having acquired new skills that we have not had in Norway before, the professor affirms.