Digitalization and digital transformation are trends driving Industry 4.0. These trends are all aiming to create smart engineering, construction and operations processes. However, fabrication is an important step often lost in this story as traditionally many processes are non-digital. In order to embrace the power of digitalization, fabrication needs to become digitally enabled to fit into the overall digital chain and build a bridge between engineering and construction.
In fabrication, several functions – such as engineering design, work preparation, material storage, work management and shop floor – must exchange information almost in real time.
Traditionally, work planners have used to work with Excel spreadsheets to make capacity planning and generate work lists for workshops on the shop floor. These works have needed a plenty of human effort and time spent on the work preparation, when barely any digital link has existed between the design and these spreadsheets.
Today, the information can be digital and accessible across the entire company, thus solutions like Hexagon PPM Digital Fabricator integrates the digital design data with all the functionality required for work preparation, material storages, work management and shop floor which can lead significant reduction in time spent on the work preparation.
Design agnostic integration to any design system
Design systems such as Intergraph Smart® 3D, Intergraph Spoolgen®, BricsCAD®, CADWorx®, Aveva, Cadmatic, Dassault, ShipConstructor, Siemens and Tekla generate different formats such as DXF, GEN, DSTV, PCD, IFC to XML for steel structures design and IDF, PCF and FIX for piping design. Engineering designs can emanate from many different 2D and 3D design systems and formats can be DXF, GEN, DSTV, PCD, IFC to XML for steel structures design and IDF, PCF and FIX for piping design.
The digital formats contain different levels of intelligent information regarding assembly structures, plate parts, profile parts, structural panels and pipe spools, and their dimensions and materials that can be used within Smart Production powered by NESTIX. Depending on the level of intelligence provided in these formats additional automation can be configured which will even further improve efficiencies.
Through the Project Import web application one can import engineering design from these different design systems. While importing the information from the design system, the solution performs checking and validation of the data for correctness and completeness. For example, the solution verifies that all material articles are available, and the specified macros are valid.
The results of validation are written to the Import log. The system assigns to each imported item an import status, such as Inserted, Updated, Deleted, Error, Warning or Finalized, and when applicable a feedback loop to the design solution is provided which also give the designer full transparency of the production process.
The intelligent, digital design integration speeds up the work planning time remarkably. The design data is imported with just a few clicks including automatic data checking and validation. When the data validation is performed, Smart Production creates automatic work preparation for the imported data items including work chain selection, workplace routing, work time estimation and capacity planning for the shop floor.
WATCH VIDEO: Importing a block from Smart 3D and releasing it into production
Ismo Piirainen is the Sales and Business Development Director at Hexagon PPM and responsible for the development of the fabrication market, mainly in the EMIA region. He is based on Oulu, Finland. He has a broad experience within B2B sales, pre-sales and business development in the metal industries, steel prefabrication and shipbuilding.