Parker Hannifin Depends on Autodesk for Global Design Collaboration
Sharing and reusing designs reduces costs and time to market. Autodesk solutions support Parker’s transition to solutions supplier.
Parker Hannifin turned to Autodesk for one of the main product design tool sets it uses throughout its global enterprise. Parker divisions share their Autodesk® Inventor® designs globally so that other divisions can reuse them in their own projects. The power and efficiency of Autodesk solutions, combined with extensive design reuse, have allowed some Parker divisions to see significant reductions in design cycle times. Parker is increasing customer satisfaction by accelerating deliveries on many projects. Through its products and its consulting services, Autodesk is enabling a vital competitive edge as Parker transitions from a strategic supplier of components to a provider of complex systems and solutions for customers.
With operations in 45 countries, Parker Hannifin (Parker) is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems. Parker is focused on not only maintaining excellence within its current product lines but also growing future Parker business in new markets. Autodesk® solutions are key components of the strategy that Parker has developed for anticipating and satisfying the market’s needs. Parker uses Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional to create the design data fundamental to these growth efforts and shares the results among its eight business groups and 107 operating divisions around the world. Autodesk solutions are shortening time to market, keeping costs down, and improving customer satisfaction.
Parker’s Win Strategy Calls for Standardizing on a Virtual Product Development Environment
A series of acquisitions helped Parker Hannifin grow from its inception in 1918 to become today’s most trusted supplier of components and systems for aerospace, automotive, climate and industrial controls, filtration hydraulics, instrumentation, and other industries. One result of the acquisitions strategy was a broad, diversified base of groups designing complementary products, offering Parker the potential to collaborate globally to provide faster deliveries. But another result was a profusion of disparate CAD technologies, making it difficult to communicate design data among these engineering centers. Without a global standard for communicating design data, Parker was unable to collaborate efficiently.
Three years ago Parker created a Win strategy to drive the corporation to the next level of excellence. One of its chief goals was to anticipate marketplace needs and speed the development and delivery of quality products. Another was to bolster financial performance by reducing costs throughout the organization through lean manufacturing practices and strategic procurement and pricing. The third major goal was to achieve profitable growth by becoming a supplier of system solutions while keeping the components business strong.
Parker knew that standardizing globally on a 3D virtual product development environment was key to overcoming its design data communication barriers. By speaking the same digital language, any Parker location would be able to leverage data and reuse designs from any other location—accelerating development and cutting costs. Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional comprise one of the primary 3D environments Parker has adopted in support of the Parker Win strategy for innovative new product commercialization.
“Autodesk delivers a flexible solution that supports our innovation and market growth strategies on a global scale,” says Craig Maxwell, Vice President, Technology and Innovation for Parker. “Autodesk is responsive as a business partner by providing products and services that help us create, manage, and share our critical product designs globally.”
The Solution: Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional Cover All the Bases
The partnership between Parker and Autodesk spans 15 years. Over that time Parker has come to count on the fast deployment, ease of use, power, cost-effectiveness, support for multiple languages, and high quality service that Autodesk consistently delivers throughout the world. In its 3D solutions, Parker wanted all these qualities and more. These solutions had to provide support for downstream manufacturing technologies. Finite element analysis had to be tightly integrated into the 3D design environment. Above all, Parker needed rapid return on its investment.
“Because of our history of mutual success, Autodesk is automatically at the top of the list whenever we examine new technologies,” says David Bosworth, Enterprise Resource Manager for Engineering Systems for Parker. “When we evaluated Autodesk’s 3D solutions, we were pleased to find that they have all the qualities we appreciate so much in our 2D environment, AutoCAD® Mechanical. We also found that they have all the 3D design, analysis, and manufacturing support we were seeking. “It was clear that we’d quickly recover our investment in Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional through improved efficiency and design reuse,” he adds. “That’s why they’re among our primary tools for 3D design.”
Parker found it straightforward to implement Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional throughout its enterprise. “When we began offering Autodesk Inventor as one of the standards at Parker, our engineers reported over and over how much easier it is to use than the various 3D CAD systems they’d used before,” says Maxwell. “Thanks to the software’s ease of use, our transition to Autodesk Inventor has been seamless.”
Smooth, Paperless Concept to Manufacturing Flow
Powerful 3D parametric modeling capabilities in Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Inventor Professional allow Parker’s designers to create models with the complex surfaces and shapes their concepts require. The company’s electrical, mechanical and controls engineers jointly and collaboratively create designs for complex electro-mechanical products, sharing a common model among all design disciplines. The finite element analysis that Autodesk Inventor Professional performs as an integral part of the design process helps assure that the final part works as intended under stress. For more complex analysis Parker uses ANSYS DesignSpace® from Global Preferred Partner Ansys Inc.
Once a design is completed, Parker can photo-realistically render it for immediate presentation to customers, or within hours perform rapid prototyping using in-house machines to turn it into a physical model.
Parker’s paperless process provides all the design data needed for tooling and manufacturing, both in-house and outsourced. Autodesk solutions are the basis for this process as well, along with products such as EdgeCAM from Global Preferred Partner Pathtrace plc.
“The mistakes we used to make and discover only after creating hardware almost never happen today,” says Maxwell. “We see the problems in the digital model long before any metal is cut. Not only does that improve our time to market, but it has allowed us to move to a new level of product quality.”
Virtual Colocation to Share Design Data Globally
Now that Autodesk solutions are available at all its design centers, Parker is taking full advantage of corporate-wide compatibility to compress schedules and reduce costs. For years Parker has been building a database of models designed with Autodesk Inventor. Parker engineers worldwide draw on this database for new design projects.
Parker is even reusing new design data in the redesign of older products to prolong their lives and make them more effective. By reusing components from its database, Parker introduces the innovations designed into these components while achieving the product redesign in a fraction of the time and cost that it would otherwise have taken.
Autodesk Consulting Adds Even More Value
Autodesk Consulting is providing a series of key software solutions for Parker. One allows complex Parker designs to be configured and delivered to customers via the Internet. Customers can then use these native Autodesk Inventor design files in their own designs. A second project builds on the first by allowing customers to specify an assembly consisting of a collection of these designs, ascertain how well they fit together, view a model of the assembly in operation, and download the complete design for use in their own products. In a third project, Autodesk is developing software for delivery of 3D content in the wide variety of formats customers require. “All these projects are very successful,” says Bosworth. “Autodesk Consulting has proven to be an important part of our partnership. They are bringing a strong methodology and expertise to every project.”
“Through the work we are doing with the Autodesk Consulting team on automated creation of catalog drawings in one of our North American divisions, we anticipate a 60 percent cost reduction compared with our previous process,” adds Bob McAdoo, Director of Business Systems for Parker.
In addition, the Autodesk Subscription Program facilitates the deployment and sharing of Autodesk products through a global license agreement executed from Parker’s data centers in the US and UK. This, complemented by Autodesk’s ability to provide consulting services on a global scale with centralized management and coordination through Parker’s corporate office in the US, has proven be a distinct advantage for Parker. “Our global licensing agreement has been a tremendous asset in simplifying IT management,” says McAdoo. “Now we can manage deployments easily by making Autodesk solutions available wherever they’re needed. This simplifies billing, reduces administrative overhead, and ultimately helps keep our costs down.”
The Result: Ease of Use Boosts Productivity by 30 Percent, Design Reuse Adds Far More
All the planning and collaboration between Parker and Autodesk is paying off at Parker engineering centers around the world. For instance, the assemblies made by one division in North America have grown enormously in complexity, from just a few components several years ago to an average of 50 today. Through increased productivity and design reuse, however, the division is making its deliveries faster than ever.
“When we first began using Autodesk Inventor, we found we could produce models 30 percent faster than with our existing 3D CAD system through improved ease of use alone,” says Robert Ziener, Engineering Supervisor. “We had one customer who had a pressing need for a new product we were designing. By providing our tooling vendors with a solid model prepared with Autodesk Inventor, we cut a month out of the process. Now, with the growth in our database of reusable components, the job gets easier every day.”
Slashing Design Cycle Time
A European division of Parker produces FRLs—filters, regulators, and lubricators for air treatment of pneumatic components. One of its first projects with Autodesk Inventor was to design a new type of generic FRL. In the midst of the project a major automotive customer in Germany issued an urgent request for a special FRL for its automobile assembly line equipment. Parker decided to adapt the generic FRL under design to meet the customer’s specifications.
“Even though we were still early on the learning curve, Autodesk Inventor was so powerful and easy to use that we made the customer delivery on time. It took us significantly less time than normally would have been required,” says Pascal Jeangirard, Division Engineering Manager for Europe.
Productivity Improvement since Moving to Autodesk Inventor
Other North American divisions of Parker are able to generate models from concepts much faster since implementing Autodesk Inventor. In addition there are time savings through early testing with Ansys products for analysis and by issuing Autodesk Inventor models to EdgeCAM from Pathtrace for manufacturing.
“Moving from 2D to the 3D Autodesk Inventor environment allowed us to shorten design time considerably,” says Mike Russo, Program Manager. “It’s much easier to conceptualize a product in the 3D work environment, which has helped us tremendously.”
Autodesk solutions have dramatically improved engineering productivity. According to Jerry Sadlon, CAD Manager, “We are much more productive since moving to Autodesk Inventor. Keying in data used to take two hours. It now takes less than 10 minutes. As a result, there is less room for error, and we are achieving better product quality.
A Partnership for Innovation
Throughout the company, Autodesk is helping Parker to realize its innovative ideas. As Maxwell says in closing, “We find real value in having a partner like Autodesk that can deliver manufacturing products and services for Parker Hannifin on a global scale. The strong direct partnership between Parker Hannifin and Autodesk supports us on the road to achieving our critical business strategies and objectives.”