Jul 28, 2011

VISTAGY Best-in-Class Composites Survey Reveals 44% of Composite Engineering Firms Lack Expertise to Design for Manufacturability

Survey shows that companies with the most mature composite design processes lead the way in combining parts, reducing weight, and extending product life.

VISTAGY, Inc., a leading provider of industry-specific engineering software and services, announced the results of its composites engineering benchmarking survey entitled, “How Does your Composite Design Process Compare to Industry Best Practices?” The study revealed only 56 percent of the composite design companies surveyed considered themselves knowledgeable in composites manufacturing practices and applied that knowledge during design. That implies that 44 percent of companies need to enhance their knowledge of the manufacturing process if they want to improve their competitiveness.

VISTAGY invites all composite design and manufacturing companies to participate in our extended survey and receive a complimentary copy of the report by going to: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22C74MU8BZ7. Editors can receive a copy of the report by writing to jeff.grossman@vistagy.com. And companies wishing to have a personal discussion of the results as it relates to their specific situation can contact VISTAGY by going to http://www.vistagy.com/contact-us.aspx.

The survey report is comprised of 140 responses across multiple industries, most prominently aerospace, automotive, and wind energy. Other relevant demographics of the respondents include region (65 percent US, 25 percent European, 10 percent Asian), and annual revenue of their companies (24 percent over $1B and 37 percent under $50M).

Goals for companies designing with composites varied, with 81 percent looking to reduce weight, 69 percent seeking to improve strength-to-weight ratios, 51 percent attempting to combine multiple parts, 25 percent seeking to extend product life, and 31 percent striving to lower maintenance costs.

The primary goal achievement metrics provided perhaps the most important results of the survey because they speak to the reasons that engineers adopt composites. The report states that, “Achieving these goals provides insight into the maturity of the company processes, domain expertise, and overall tool implementation and use. Any company that scored high here should be considered a high performing practitioner of composites engineering.”

In this context, best-in-class companies:

Average combining six or more parts into one (10 percent actually combine 10 or more parts, while 34 percent of companies lag others by treating composites as black metal and only replacing parts at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio)
Reduce maintenance costs (and likewise improve quality and extend product lifecycles) by 30 percent or more by taking advantage of inherent material properties
Reduce weight by 30 percent or more with a full 34 percent beating their weight reduction goals.

“We conducted this study to enable our customers and others in the composites industry to understand where they stand compared to their peers and how they could improve their performance,” said Bruce Boes, vice president of product management and marketing for VISTAGY. “One thing that really stood out was that companies with best-in-class performance had a high correlation to the maturity of their processes. These companies also made the decision to invest in design resources and were more interested in achieving part cost targets than actually lowering their part costs, a major breakthrough in designing to take full advantage of all of the benefits of composites technology.”