Oct 24, 2011

Fujitsu's CAD System Used in Alps Electric's Integrated Development Environment

Development times reduced by 50% using iCAD V7 three-dimensional CAD system for compilation design system.

Fujitsu today announced that Alps Electric Co., Ltd.'s MMP Division, in charge of developing assembly equipment and other manufacturing equipment, has unified its design environment for mechanical and control systems, and recently built a new development environment based on Fujitsu's iCAD7 three-dimensional CAD system to raise design efficiency and product quality.

For the manufacturing equipment in which specification and concept plans are implemented, the new system automates process layout work and the production of operation timing charts. This enables a significant reduction in design work, from layout planning to verification of operation timing and the generation of drawings, resulting in improvements to the design quality of manufacturing equipment, as well as faster development speeds.

Alps Electric plans to deploy the new design environment in all of its manufacturing locations, including those based outside Japan. To the extent possible, the company plans to perform preliminary verification using the 3D data for operational verification and installation adjustment work in its control programs that are currently performed using actual equipment, thereby compressing the time required for the complete set-up, from assembly to installation, of its manufacturing equipment. Alps Electric estimates that it will reduce overall development times for its manufacturing equipment, from design to set-up, by 50%, thereby enhancing its competitive-edge.

Fujitsu plans to introduce the design environment at the iCAD Conference 2011 it is sponsoring in November, at venues in Tokyo (Shinagawa), Osaka (Umeda), and Aichi (Nagoya).

Industry Background

With continued advancements in digital technologies, new developments in electric vehicles, and the surge in development of "green" devices for a low-carbon society, the electronic components industry is undergoing major transformations. To meet the variety of customer needs arising from the growth of these new sources of demand and the broadening base of the industry, it is essential to have an accurate grasp of market trends and build a unique development environment to quickly deliver products.

To meet these needs, Fujitsu is offering its iCAD series, which brings together in one system the mechanical design and control design processes that previously had required separate systems due to processing performance limitations for handling designs of large-scale mechanical equipment. Taking advantage of the ultrafast CAD engine of iCAD V7, Fujitsu is developing new features for mechanical design as well as processes ranging from operation timing verification to the debugging of control programs. Alps Electric is conducting a beta evaluation of these features, and they are expected to be added as new features to the next upgraded version of iCAD V7.

Alps Electric's Efforts to Improve Quality and Design Efficiency

In accordance with the trend toward electric vehicles and the expansion in demand for precision instruments, Alps Electric must quickly offer a variety of products, such as sensors and switches. Accordingly, the ability to promptly assemble and install manufacturing equipment is an important issue. The company is working to compress (by 50%) its development timelines for manufacturing equipment.

1. Raising design efficiency by automating manufacturing equipment planning

Even within a given product category, such as sensors or switches, Alps Electric produces a wide range of products. The company has standardized each process or feature of the manufacturing equipment that produces them. By selecting a standardized unit for a required process, the unit is automatically allocated, and built using the iCAD V7 compilation design system, which handles everything from operation timing verification to the generation of drawings in a consistent way.

As a result, design work needs to be performed solely on the part of the product's configuration that has changed, thereby improving the efficiency of design planning and verification, and significantly reducing the design work required. Upon verification, the standardized equipment is automatically set up in one shot, thus the time required for set up or for parts deliveries is also reduced.

2. Enabling parallel consideration of mechanical design and control design

In the development of control systems, 3D models of the standardized units that are automatically allocated can be operated just like the actual machinery. These 3D models are used by mechanical designers and control system designers to bring their specifications into conformity with each other. In the event the operating specifications are changed, the control system designers can check the 3D model to promptly confirm the operating specifications and requirements, thereby avoiding the discrepancies that can arise from misunderstandings when using verbal or paper-based communication.

In addition, Fujitsu has developed new features for iCAD V7 to enable the control programs to be debugged using the 3D data prior to making the actual machinery. Fujitsu and Alps Electric are conducting joint trial evaluations of these features. By taking the control program that has been produced, loading it on a sequencer, and operating the 3D model just like the actual machinery, the control program can be verified during the design stage. This reduces the installation adjustment work required with the actual machinery, as well as the time spent backtracking due to program discrepancies.

iCAD Conference 2011

Fujitsu is sponsoring iCAD Conference 2011 at venues in Tokyo (November 1, in Shinagawa), Osaka (November 8, in Umeda), and Aichi (November 15, in Nagoya). The conference will include case study presentations on the 3D design activities of Alps Electric and Sumitomo Heavy Industries Environment Co., Ltd.