The interplay of timing, cost and quality makes for a complex challenge for the Ford engineers involved in engine manufacturing launches. The successful launch of an automated CNC machining line involves a large engineering team working concurrently. Competitive pressures require a lean manufacturing planning process so that time is not wasted manually reentering data at every stage.
To address this challenge, Ford employs Siemens NX with PMI that facilitates a comprehensive 3D annotation environment. PMI allows product teams to capture and associate a component’s manufacturing requirements directly with the 3D model and to convey this information to downstream manufacturing applications.
Although PMI is widely available, the idea of replacing 2D drawings with self-contained 3D models has been slow to catch on with engineering teams that design complex engine packages. Detailed drawings are still required for every step of the incremental process, from casting to finished part, and many stakeholders have limited experience interrogating 3D models.
Application of a PMI solution to powertrain manufacturing has been hindered by the uniquely complex set of requirements for high-volume CNC machining of automotive engine components. These machining lines are designed to run unattended, integrated with planned automation instructions embedded in the CNC code. To minimize wasteful material removal, the manufacturing plan must include special design considerations for the incoming casting and must incorporate multi-step machining with in-process coordinate measuring machine (CMM) inspection after each step.
Despite these inherent complexities, the opportunity to develop smarter workflows using PMI motivated Ford to take on PMI implementation in this manufacturing space. Ford’s goal ultimately is to launch the manufacturing process into production with healthy short-term and long-term process capability.