Aerospace is one of the most demanding and competitive industries in the world today. To keep up with the market pressures, manufacturers have to ensure everything they do – from product design and testing to document management and compliance procedures – is as precise as clockwork.
Nobody knows this better than Meggitt, a global engineering group specialising in extreme environment products and sub-systems for the defence, aerospace and energy markets.
Meggitt has dominated the aerospace industry for almost half a century, so it’s fair to say that today, there’s scarcely an aeroplane in service that doesn’t carry Meggitt’s critical components and smart systems. The company has 11,000 employees across its manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe and North America.
With such a large team based in these different locations, document control can become a bit of a nightmare. Add more than 40 years worth of historical data and drawings to the mix and the situation becomes even more delicate.
Making the move to PLM
For these reasons and more, the move to one software platform across divisions and a better document control system has been a priority for Meggitt in recent years.
To find and implement the right software for the job, UK and Swiss divisions of Meggitt came to product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Design Rule for advice.
“Our two main objectives were to improve document control and get our teams based in different locations to collaborate more effectively using a shared platform,” explains Andy Lodge, design engineering manager at Meggitt UK. “The move to a new software platform was also an opportunity to review and improve our existing document archive.”
Alongside its French and Swiss partner Visiativ, which led the international implementation, Design Rule coordinated the project in the UK and made recommendations for how Dassault Systèmes’ ENOVIA software platform could help Meggitt achieve its objectives.
Improving electronic storage
“Because the Meggitt history is so long and fruitful, we have over a million of drawings and documents, some of which go back the first half of the last century.
Most of our documents have digital copies, but the existing system wasn’t flexible or accessible enough. Most of our electronic storage was organised in a folder structure similar to the Windows model and shared on the network,” continues Lodge.
“The main problem was that the search function was unreliable, so if you needed an archived document, you would either have to ask someone where to find it or spend a lot of time looking for it.”
Following the implementation of ENOVIA, Lodge says the benefits were almost immediate, particularly the improvement in efficiency when it came to locating files and performing admin tasks.
“Last year, we identified about 100,000 working files that needed to be managed and installed on the new system. We have already added 80,000 of them to ENOVIA, which now allows us to find relevant files in just seconds. Needless to say, this has saved our team a significant amount of time already,” he adds.
Simplifying the process
Better document control was the original reason Meggitt decided to implement a PLM system and ENOVIA made product planning and document management easier by connecting two parts of the business: the document authors – such as engineers, CAD designers and product designers – and the consumers of information from the purchasing, quality and export control teams.
Different Meggitt employees will need to access certain documents for various reasons. For example, the document procedures for qualifying products that are fit for flight can be many hundreds of pages long and need to go through different levels of approval, not to mention that they need to be accessible in real time.
By using ENOVIA, Meggitt has simplified the approval process, making the digital trail of a document much clearer and improving the accessibility to relevant team members.
“Perhaps the most ground-breaking aspect of the project consisted in the multiple site implementations,” explains Bob Hillier, managing director of Design Rule.
“This is where the partnership with Visiativ really made a difference because it allowed us to take advantage of ENOVIA’s flexibility to adapt the software to each division’s culture, structure and way of doing things.
“One of the trickiest things about introducing new software is getting the team on board and helping everyone involved see the benefits of the new system.
Unless all the users are on the same page, there’s a good chance the implementation will fall flat and the results will not reflect expectations. By allowing the UK and Swiss teams to adapt the software to their existing needs, processes and procedures, the transition was smooth and the users were more likely to engage with and make the most of the new system.”
The improvements Meggitt has seen from the implementation of ENOVIA have convinced the company of the benefits of PLM. In the near future, it is hoping to get more departments and divisions to use the ENOVIA software, turning it into one of the main communication and management tools of the company.
Meggitt is also planning to move beyond document management and employ PLM for project management and bill of materials management, while also integrating a collaborative CAD software platform into the system.
Meggitt reaps the benefit of PLM implementation