This section concerns work with simplifying and streamlining the entire value stream in the field of structural engineering. To be able to develop creative engineering capabilities, good methods, good tools and a good measure of free thinking are required. But creating good methods and tools also requires innovation and creative thought. For quite some time, Saab has been developing new working procedures, new methodology and new tools that have optimised a great deal of the work involved in fuselage design.
A good overview of the entire value stream is extremely important. If we can see the , we can also see opportunities for improvements, which provides space for creativity and more enjoyable ways of working. Effective methodologies and effective tools create the conditions for reducing lead times, increasing quality, reducing costs and providing space for innovative engineering.
Historically, design work has been documented in drawings, either on paper or plastic film. Production and planning documentation has been on paper, along with associated documents in the form of bills of materials including all component parts. Optimising this work require new working procedures and tools.
The use of models has created conditions for working in a seamless value stream in which all information is described in digital form.
Working with MBD has also enabled major simplifications to working procedures; the 3D descriptions have enabled virtual representations of how a design works before the decision to manufacture is made.
The author recommends the following texts that relate to this story: In chapter Creating value for customers under the heading Development of Technology Demonstrators in chapter Having a low life cycle cost under the heading Systems Engineering and in chapter Ensuring long-term operations capabilities under the heading Capability development in an international environment.
The text concerns the marked areas in A Journey of Change in the Aircraft Industry
The development in producing engineering and production documentation etc. have progressed with big steps in the past 15 years.
The use of 3D models has created the conditions for working in a seamless value stream in which all information is described in digital form.
The MBD (Model Based Definition) method has simplified the way of working substantially. MBD models provide a 3D virtual visualisation of how the design work before the decision to manufacture is made. All areas within the process have access to models containing sufficient information when required.
Major consideration must be taken to change working procedures and it is a journey of sorts. It requires a major transition of processes and methods, as well as implementation of new IT tools. And most important of all is the understanding and acceptance of staff.
It is easy to focus on a particular methodology for development activities, such as MBD for instance, as though only this methodology could provide more effective operations.
Success in all larger projects for capability development initiatives demands humility, perseverance and a balance between different types of resources and abilities.
Moreover, the organisation must have the will and courage to make decisions, and to actually make the necessary changes.
MBD implementation is no exception. Not everything is yet complete, but a great deal of progress has been made with the limited resources that have been available over the years.
Historically, design work has been documented in drawings, either on paper or plastic film. Production and planning documentation has been on paper, along with associated documents in the form of bills of materials including all component parts.
Many assembly drawings are required to manufacture components. Installation instructions have been documented on paper. The same applies to producing tools for manufacturing jigs, fixtures, tools, etc. All manuals and service books have previously been provided on paper, and later on CDs.
The list can be long for describing everything that is necessary for developing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining a piece of equipment or a construction assembly.
Developing creative engineering capabilities requires effective methods, effective tools and a good measure of free thinking. But creating effective methods and tools also demands innovation and creative thinking. For quite some time, Saab has been developing new working procedures, new methodologies and new tools that have optimised a great deal of the work involved in fuselage design.
It is important to maintain an overview of the entire value stream. If we can see the whole picture, we can also see the opportunities for improvements, which provide space for creativity and more enjoyable ways of working. Effective methodologies and effective tools create the conditions for reducing lead times, increasing quality, reducing costs and providing space for innovative engineering.
The MBD (Model Based Definition) method has simplified the way of working substantially. 3D descriptions have been obtained and thus enabled virtual representations of how a design works before the decision to manufacture is made. All areas within the process have access to models containing sufficient information when required.
In the section below, brief examples are provided from development work regarding MBD methodology, with descriptions of how models have replaced paper-based documentation.
MBD provides the prerequisites for realising the above. With MBD methodology, all information is gathered about a product in a 3D model. The information required to create a design is defined only once. Such a 3D model includes information about geometry, dimensions, measurements and tolerances, component parts, assembly methods as well as diverse information for design and production. Everyone who works with the information has simultaneous access to it.
With MBD, the product is established and defined during design work and described in various 3D models. The definition of the product (in the models) can then be reused “downstream” in a value stream, such as during tool design, planning, manufacture, etc. In this way, development projects can be conducted with reduced costs and lead times.
With MBD, a comprehensive overview of a process can be attained, such as from development of a concept to installation. Packaging, managing and distributing information in a value stream also facilitates maintenance, recycling and enhancements.
Saab's journey of change for MBD grew forth both in its own organisation, but not the least, through collaboration with partners. From these activities, new ideas on efficient working procedures were developed and refined.
Important steps in the development of MBD were taken in the various partnerships and projects presented below:
In practice, MBD is applied in the operational areas Design, Production Engineering, Production and Aftermarket.
At the close of the 1990s, 3D models were used in design operations to easily create drawings. Not all components had 3D definitions at the time, but were instead defined in assembly drawings. The working procedure entailed that models were created and stored in a file system.
Designers worked in their own job files. There was no set procedure for sharing the results they achieved for a design. This entailed that some designers and production engineers did not always have access to certain job files. Consequently, they did not have the proper prerequisites for doing their jobs.
During design work, 3D models were solely available to the individual designers. It was only when a design was finished and released that other designers gained easy access to the results.
The end of the 1990s saw the beginnings of the evaluation and later implementation of working procedures for simulated installation. Those who studied this determined that the technology was sufficiently mature for implementation. The prerequisites were that software was available for the purpose and that the working procedures employed in current product development projects supported this initiative.
A designer wants to know if the designed component can be installed. After an analysis of tolerances, etc., the designer must determine if the available volume is sufficient for manual installation.
The designer has to ask himself the following: Can the component be installed? If it cannot be installed, are there alternative installation sequences? How can the component be installed?
Installation simulations and access analyses were tested and studied in many different product development projects.
Example 1: Installation simulation performed on the Gripen C with installation of a new APU and equipment for aerial refuelling.
Example 2: Access analysis was conducted for structural fitting of outer wing on the A3XX (A380). This was done for the first work packages that Saab Aerostructures received from Airbus. Video from installation simulation was also used to introduce operators to the manufacturing process.
It was assessed that installation simulations and access analyses would significantly reduce the learning curve. This was because a clear visualisation was attained for how the various tools were to be used.
Assemblers had never before had such insight into the manufacturing process before constructing a unit for the first time.
Through the analyses, valuable information was also gained that clarified the requirements for product and tool design. Moreover, input was also obtained for working with production planning.
At the close of the 1990s, Saab and British Aerospace closely collaborated with development of the Gripen C. British Aerospace had design and manufacturing responsibility for the main landing gear unit.
Various types of simulations were conducted for installation purposes and the results were used as job instructions. Saab was responsible for development of this working procedure, and simulations were performed on site at British Aerospace in England.
The purpose of this work was to streamline the installation process for the structural components surrounding the landing gear of the Gripen C. An installation simulation with 200 components and all tools was conducted, which showed how the entire unit was installed from start to finish.
To compare the new working procedure with work in the traditional manner, a test was conducted. A simulation was performed first with the new working procedure, which was followed by a cost calculation of the traditional working procedure.
The results of the test showed that the time for actual installation with the new working procedure would take a few hours; while the time for installation with the traditional working procedure was calculated at several hundred hours.
The results from the simulation were later used in training materials for production personnel, and the learning curve could consequently be reduced. This was very favourably received by production when 3D components could be viewed on a monitor, making the components easier to identify.
To shorten lead times and obtain suitable working procedures and appropriate quality for installation tasks, it was decided that all types of installation of a complex character would have to be virtually verified. The reason for this was to enable prompt detection of problems, before tools were produced and job instructions were prepared. This would avoid unnecessary costs for correcting problems. The capacity to verify that produced design solutions were correct was also required. This without needing to construct an actual environment in which all components were physically produced.
The figure Saab's shows first 3D-based working instruction
Because there can be multiple product configurations, it was necessary to be able to declare the configuration for which a verification had been performed. This is of the utmost importance in maintaining good change management in design work.
An important rationalisation was the ability to export established installations sequences to production planning, where production data is refined for later use in 3D-based production data.
When installation simulations were introduced, generation of data both for designs and production planners was simplified. Designers and production planners could then focus on producing the optimal configuration for a design and the most efficient procedure for installation. For production workers, being able to view the installation sequence reduced time spent on training.
Example 1: The new working procedure with virtual verification was utilised in the larger redesign projects for the export version of the Gripen C.
Example 2: When Saab developed its first two work packages for civilian aircraft – the design-to-build approached was used in installation simulation.
Example 3: The first virtual work instruction was produced and it was used in the manufacture of the main landing gear unit for the Gripen C.
The beginning of the 2000s saw a number of evaluations of experiences from different product development projects that had used installation simulation.
This would require replacement of the previously used IT tools due to their complexity. Moreover, different IT environments were being used in development and production.
The IT tool Tecnomatix eM-Assembler had been in use for a number of years. It was rather complex with use requiring expert knowledge. New, simpler and more user-friendly IT tools became available at the beginning of the 2000s.
The decision was consequently made to change IT tools to gain broad acceptance among the concerned user groups at the units for design, production engineering and production. The IT tool DELMIA DPM ASSEMBLY was selected.
DELMIA was from the company Dassault Systèmes. Saab was already using CATIA from Dassault Systèmes in design work.
Example: The DELMIA tool could be successfully used in installation simulations for the Gripen project and for civilian products such as A380 MOLE and A320 Aileron.
Saab had exhibited excellent quality and good delivery precision for the first work packages delivered to Airbus. These deliveries were for the A340, A320 and A380 civilian aircraft.
Saab had thus established considerable trust and the capability to work efficiently as a Tier 1 partner for Airbus. Together with Airbus, Saab had also developed an effective working procedure for producing their processes, methods and systems. This experience established the prerequisites for Saab in developing its own processes and methods in MBD. Through the deliveries to Airbus, Saab subsequently strengthened its position as an industry leader.
Work was also performed with pilot studies on drawing less working procedures at the beginning of the 2000s to later be able to attain various types of work packages. DDD (Drawing less Design Definition) is now an established method for general efficiency.
The methodology was also developed through decisions to separate design and production requirements to streamline change management. Moreover, there were new ideas about separating product and process requirements in different models, which later became established as IPPD (In Process Part Definition) and as a production component.
With the work packages, good practical experiences were gained in drawing less working procedures (virtual manufacturing). Saab had also obtained good experiences from the use of DELMIA.
When Boeing started their development project for the 787 Dreamliner, Saab was deeply engaged in the details of the working procedure for MBD. This was due to Saab being a Tier 1 partner for Boeing.
The work packages that Saab received from Boeing for the 787 Dreamliner and that concerned design work, required that Saab worked in accordance with Boeing's methodology and working procedures, as well as in their IT environment.
For manufacturing, Boeing had no specific requirements for work methodology, entailing that in this case, Saab could configure its own concept.
One of the first assignments that Saab received was to design a conceptual cargo door for a test object. Without any major investments in IT systems, tests were conducted in preparing design documentation (3D-EBOM) and transforming it into production documentation (3D-MBOM).
For the first time, Saab prepared 3D-based job instructions using installation simulation. After successful tests, it was decided to obtain the database component of DELMIA, and to move forward with management of production components (IPPD management) for the 787 Dreamliner.
An important decision was to eliminate simulation as a concept for job instructions in favour of using prepared views only. The reason for this was that it would take more time to read an instruction than to do the job.
Saab had close relations with Boeing and was consequently able to develop the capabilities in MBD based on the knowledge and experiences gained through collaboration.
Because Saab had considerable expertise in MBD and was well prepared for working with the 787 Dreamliner, Saab was asked to participate in other partnerships.
Saab participated at several international work meetings and even hosted one of them. Experience from MBD was exchanged at the meetings with other partners within the framework of the 787 Dreamliner project.
It required substantial patience and perseverance to explain IPPD to engineers with limited skills in English.
One supplier had decided to prepare drawings based on Saab's MBD data, but was unable to ensure that all MBD requirements were included in the transfer to drawings. When the supplier also prepared two drawings of each IPPD, the situation became chaotic.
To a certain degree, the above was the result of the purchasing function not having a complete understanding of MBD due to the buyers not receiving training.
Upon major methodology changes, adjustments to the management structure are often needed. An example of this from the 787 was the responsibility for what would be manufactured. This was previously the sole responsibility of EBOM (design documentation). Everything that is defined in a design must be manufactured in accordance with design documentation. There have been exceptions and these have been handled with documents of the type Condition of Supply (where conditions are often set for material provision), which are normally taken care of by production engineering resources.
With MBD and implementation of IPPD, the responsibility shifts to production engineering. It is the content of production documentation (MBOM) including IPPD (production component) that is to be manufactured. It is thus no longer the purchasing organisation that is to request documentation from the design department. Unfortunately, this occurred for the 787 Dreamliner and certain components that should never have been manufactured were purchased.
An early strategic solution was to further capitalise on the investments Saab had made together with Boeing on the 787, and to implement the MBD methodology in Saab's own operational management system. To do this a project was needed, and the European collaborative project Neuron was selected. Saab had the opportunity to adapt the MBD methodology learned from Boeing in this project, and it was also a way of developing the working procedure prior to the coming upgrade of the Gripen.
Because Neuron would only produce a single unit, the focus was primarily on developing the methodology for streamlining design work. Many lessons were learned in this context, much was virtually verified and several engineers were introduced to MBD.
An entire structure in a simulated environment was built up in Neuron, which entailed that installation sequences and build order could be simulated. Simulations could be carried out to determine whether an installation technician had sufficient space for installing components. In the virtual environment, the technician could see how work was to be conducted and where the components would be installed. This approach saved considerable time. The virtual environment entailed that the technician had full knowledge of how work was to be performed before it was carried out in practice.
The biggest benefit in the calculation was related to the learning curve for production, entailing that the components passed directly without adjustments needing to be make. This immediately produced the right quality, as demonstrated by experiences from 2014 in production of the Gripen no. 39-8.
Saab entered the international arena as a progressive force in operational development – we were an active partner for Boeing in the 787 project, we took MBD a step further in Neuron and made decisions on how the Gripen E would be defined. These major steps show a paradigm shift in the product and process definitions in the world’s aviation industry. Saab had not only participated in this work, Saab was a leader in taking action.
In its earlier work with the Gripen Demo, Saab had demonstrated how development of the Gripen system could be carried out; the next step was to develop the Gripen NG. Saab had invested heavily in these projects, which contributed to the need to develop new working procedures and new methods with limited financial resources and smart solutions.
Saab's long-term cooperation with the civilian division of Boeing has contributed to the working procedures developed for MBD gaining a world-leading position. Saab has now entered a partnership with the military division of Boeing to develop a new aircraft for military use, intended for training pilots in the US Air Force and called T-X.
In this partnership, Saab has chosen to work using different methods for design and production engineering. The military division of Boeing has assigned the designer a great deal of responsibility for production engineering, while Saab is attempting to keep the design documentation free from process requirements.
It is very clear, however, that Saab's modern working procedures are attracting considerable interest even from this division of Boeing.
Technical information will have a new format for the Gripen E due to a principle decision to make full use of MBD.
Technical information in the form of ILS (Integrated Logistic Support) is a significant part of the complete delivery to a customer. It is therefore important to develop methodology for how this information will be handled. This area concerns planning of the maintenance conducted on aircrafts.
It is also a subset of the entire information system for the Gripen, which encompasses information about component maintenance, spare parts catalogues, etc. The success of ILS control is also highly dependent on the life cycle cost for the entire aircraft materiel system.
Maintenance planning differs from production planning, primarily in two respects. A production activity occurs once when an aircraft is produced, while a maintenance task is a recurring activity. The purpose of production planning is to realise the product definition while maintenance planning is a part of it. Maintenance planning in MBD format is thus a major challenge since such an application will be used by many people with varying levels of experience and skill. Work with MBD in this area is therefore very important.
Saab has found a solution however, that is built on using basic methods in production planning. The same software and product data are used, but in maintenance planning consideration must be taken to certain specific properties.
A maintenance task involves reusable, configuration-controlled components with relatively little labour content (e.g. installing an individual device). It is also made up of a sequence of components. Maintenance becomes situation-based since each aircraft is usually unique. A maintenance task has no references to other documents or tasks. Visualisation of work follows a predefined colour language that only uses text by way of exception. A maintenance task is also coupled to the spare parts catalogue.
Since 2010, Saab has had methods for designing, planning and manufacturing aircraft fuselages using in-house-developed MBD methodology, which to a large extent is based on Boeing's visions for how this should be done on the 787 project. Saab has succeeded in this respect with conducting aspects that Boeing was unable to handle.
Some examples of difficult aspects for which Saab has smoothly functioning systems and methodology are maintaining order among general requirements and digital verification of requirements. Saab has also increased the understanding of 3D to encompass all airframe components. Saab has been able to compare MBD methodology in the T-X project in which Saab collaborated with Boeing Military. It can thus be deducted that Saab presently has a strong position in MBD. Saab has also been able to begin preparation of methods and processes for 3D-based maintenance planning.
To succeed in developing a good working procedure and good methodology, one must work incrementally. In part to test and verify the actual methodology in various product projects, as well as to establish approaches and maturity throughout the organisation.
To make major changes, the support of management is necessary. Top-down – senior management first, but all formal and informal leaders on all levels must be encompassed. Maturity in an organisation takes time. During implementation, no steps can be omitted if balance is to be maintained.
Future development areas in MBD affect basic methodology. Method improvements in the following operational areas will be made:
There are opportunities for more automation and standardisation. An example of this is implementing more controlled rules for handling various component types by using different parameters. This would streamline both design work as well as planning and manufacture, further downstream in the value stream.
Design documentation include a multitude of external references that consist of non-linkable text. This information is not always sufficient for understanding a design requirement, necessitating the capability to be able to search further. In a first step, an improvement could be made by providing the references in a link that can be followed by the end-user.
In a second step, implementation of a procedure database would help all involved throughout the life cycle in locating specific requirements directly from the design documentation.
To gain full effect from MBD in production and aftermarket activities, models are needed from all suppliers to enable visualisation to the degree required by Saab's operations.
Implementing MBD for tool design could be attained by visualising and setting design requirements in 3D, but producing functions for generating drawings and other documentation in a lightweight format (lightweight format refers to a slimmed model from a production definition, easy to communicate and handle for users). Both the drawing in lightweight format and the associated supporting documentation can then be distributed for production either by Saab or a supplier.
In the planning operational area, implementation of an MES (Manufacturing Execution System) can streamline the creation of production materials for components by gathering information in a more effective manner than with the IT system presently used.
In the future, planning will be conducted earlier in the value stream, instead of when the design is nearing completion, as is the case today. With today’s object-based systems we can begin to convert design data to production data as early as the concept phase. This thus permits planning of actual objects, but at a high level, and thereafter continuously break-down of these objects into ever-decreasing information volumes. Once this is done, a detailed plan on the activity level can be issued in conjunction with release of design data.
The figure shows planning data for assembly and final installation.
By embedding rules in the design, planning can be automated, and when rules are changed, rebalancing can be conducted.
Example: The toy manufacturer Lego has created an application for automatic planning that is available as a free download.
There is major potential for improvement in our job instructions, which can be achieved in a way that is similar as for maintenance planning. A colour language can be introduced and measures taken to improve and minimise text, which would further refine the job instructions.
Considerable efficiency is gained upon implementation of a MES; the instruction can be provided in the context of an order and integrate unit tracking, non-compliance management and delivery documentation.
A user-friendly interface where all the necessary information is accessible and properly packaged for the situation in which it is displayed is essential for production. Micro and macro visualisation establish awareness and makes production flexible and active. A MES-system can be the hub for this.
Answers to a number of questions can be obtained from a MES-system, such as:
This is information – which exists in the organisation but that must be made visible where it is needed – is a part of a Lean flow. The information can either be displayed for each employee on a smaller screen or on larger digital bulletin boards that can viewed by many.
The tools that constitute the core in the working procedure
When all suppliers of systems and devices can be integrated in the value stream (information stream), and handle MBD data, the full effect of MBD is gained throughout the life cycles. This will become an incremental implementation based on the maturity of the various suppliers and at the rate that Saab can implement this change.
Example: In Boeings final assembly for the 787 Dreamliner, DELMIA is used for this purpose.
In the production operational area, there are many in other industries that use 3D-based facility planning as a very effective way of working. In the automotive industry in particular, considerable progress has been made, with 100 percent agreement being required between virtual representation and reality. Saab's provider for facilities and associated service has not yet achieved this potential.
To further develop the working procedure for maintenance planning, a better degree of detail is required for input data. New methodology is needed to deliver high quality modification data that can be applied both in Saab's own production and in customer production.
A 3D-based spare parts catalogue has been prepared and will be implemented for the Gripen. In the future, virtual training will be used as a very effective working procedure in training customer technicians in maintenance work using 3D-based maintenance instructions.
An important success factor behind Saab's excellent progress in implementing MBD is that Saab's management has provided strong and consistent support. The people who have worked with the development and implementation of MBD have also successfully involved all formal and informal leaders on all levels.
Learning from each other and developing new skills has been a success factor that has paid dividends in many different situations. The work packages that Saab received in conjunction with the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have greatly influenced Saab's expertise in MBD.
The continued development of MBD and achieving its full effect throughout development and the product lifecycle demand a cross-functional approach.
Experience sharing has primarily taken place within the project organisations when people who have worked on a product development project that employed MBD methods join a new product development project. In recent years, methodological support has increased considerably as more employees have become involved. In the future, the line organisation's PM&T organisation must shoulder greater responsibility for methodology support, best practices (knowledge sharing between development projects) and most of all, methodology development as there is still more potential to realise.
In the future, thorough business intelligence covering developments in MBD methodologies will still be necessary, and not only in the aviation industry but also in other manufacturing industries. More specifically, there is a need to look at how to more effectively develop MBD methodologies for business collaboration. Customer requirements for the maintenance and use of Saab's products are also a necessary source of inspiration for establishing requirements for and working innovatively with MBD methodologies.
The next step in MBD is to fully implement the comprehensive initiative that we have begun, which will enable us to manage the entire value chain in all product projects. MBD will then be able to manage the entire information lifecycle, a large share of the development tools that are used, all systems that manage product data as well as the entire methodology for producing design and production documentation. Not the least, it applies to all documentation for maintenance planning and spare parts catalogues. Moreover, the MBD methodology must be included in all collaborations with suppliers and partners.
The new working procedures with MBD have demonstrated their superiority over the old in all aspects. Work with MBD methodology requires less time, produces better quality and entails fewer tasks, which all combine to reduce costs. Moreover, the value stream in the design and production process is simplified and thus provides improved delivery precision. Savings with MBD in relation to the traditional working procedures are more than 30 percent.