Original Date: 08/20/2001
Revision Date: 12/14/2006
Best Practice : Mechanical Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing Analysis
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems is moving its design engineers into the analysis business to increase product performance. Engineers are performing finite element analysis to optimize their designs earlier in the design process. Simpler analysis tools that seamlessly pass model geometry between the design and analysis are playing a key part in improving engineering processes.
In the past, Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems-Surface Systems (NE&SS-SS) performed Finite Element Analysis (FEA) by utilizing high-end tools. To effectively use these tools, analysts had to be highly skilled and needed to re-create the designer’s model before performing the analysis. The model was then modified and the analysis repeated to find the optimal performance. Once completed, the design model would be updated with the model changes. Often, many chip geometries were repeatedly created and analyzed before the optimum geometry was ascertained. This approach can introduce errors into the model and minimize productivity due to data re-creation. The high-end tools also limited the design engineer’s ability to develop complex models; therefore, experts were often required on every job. To resolve these issues, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS implemented the Mechanical Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) Analysis process.
The process came about through the efforts of an Engineering Process Improvement Subcouncil. The Subcouncil, composed of site experts from various Lockheed Martin plants, standardized the engineering processes within the company. The Subcouncil also reviewed the situation of design engineers on the ease of performing FEA on parametric models. The result was the Mechanical CAD/CAM Analysis process, which employs a simple FEA tool that uses the same model geometry as the design package of the design engineers.
Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS’ philosophy is to optimize performance and cost parameters, quickly and efficiently, early in the design cycle. The Mechanical CAD/CAM Analysis process enables design engineers to perform analyses on-the-fly and rapidly test iterative design alternatives. Simpler codes, like MacroFlow, are used to supplement the analysis and, in some cases, replace high-end tools. The design engineer is also encouraged to build parametric analysis models that can be readily updated. Parametric modeling reduces errors introduced during re- creation of the model geometries, as well as increases the productivity of engineers and throughput of the engineering department. On one particular program, Lockheed Martin NE&SS-SS estimated its savings in process labor at $13,000.
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