Improving Lean Manufacturing Through 3D Data
Book Excerpt, Chapter 6, JEOL Ltd. An excerpt taken from the new book “Improving Lean Manufacturing Through 3D Data” by Dr. Hiroshi Toriya.
This new book is available free at www.lattice3d.com (registration required) in an e-book format from Lattice Technology.
Established in 1946 as a manufacturer of electron microscopes, today JEOL is a leading supplier of transmission electron microscopes, scanning probe microscopes, mass spectrometers, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometers, and semiconductor tools for scientific and industrial purposes. With consolidated revenues of about one billion dollars and 3000 employees, the company is actively decentralizing its production bases both inside and outside the country. Aiming to enhance design quality, JEOL began using Autodesk Inventor 3D CAD software in 2002, and added XVL in 2004 to develop its 3D data for manufacturing.
Today, the company has more than 70 seats of Autodesk Inventor installed, implementing 3D design for all its new products. The decision to switch from 2D design to 3D was because the company’s production bases were scattered around the country in Tokyo, Yamagata, and into China. As a result the company was facing increasing difficulty maintaining product quality using conventional design methods based on 2D drawings. For instance, with just drawings, the manufacturing staff were struggling to understand complicated parts and, more often than not, were unable to pass down knowledge of manufacturing methods to their younger colleagues. Using 3D design data instead of drawings, the company found that it was able to resolve these problems.
We interviewed Tsutomu Ando, general manager of JEOL’s Engineering System Department who played a pivotal role in promoting 3D data use, Takashi Kondou, team leader of the Electron Optics Division, and Yasunori Nishimura, team leader of the Engineering System Department, about their efforts to build digital manufacturing at the company.
Never Force the Use of 3D at the Manufacturing Shop Floor
When asked what was the greatest challenge in implementing manufacturing processes that use 3D data, Ando’ s reply was clear; “You need to convince each product team leader of the usefulness of 3D design and 3D data. The success of 3D digital manufacturing totally depends on the team leader.” For example, in product design reviews, the key to success lies in whether the team leader chooses 2D drawings or 3D models. If the team leader just asks for paper drawings, 3D data use will never spread. The actual users have to want 3D data to achieve any degree of success. But JEOL made sure it did not force its staff to use 3D CAD.
Understandably, busy product designers, especially experienced designers who have been with the company for a long time, take a while getting used to applying 3D data in their work. In early efforts to promote 3D digital manufacturing, one executive of the company gathered the product designers and asked them the pros and cons of 3D and 2D design. Not one insisted on sticking to 2D design, meaning all were aware of the advantages of 3D. This shed a light on how the company should proceed in promoting a 3D digital manufacturing strategy: repeatedly hold basic training classes for designers who have been with the company for a long time, because they are more prone to have difficulty adapting to 3D design; have each team leader experience the real value of 3D design themselves; and gradually incorporate 3D data into the work, starting with new products that the company was going to release.
Ando, who led the introduction of 3D design at JEOL, said “The introduction of 3D design is similar to rebuilding a corporate culture. It involves washing out existing norms and concepts from the designer’s mind and building up a totally new process. In our case, it was impossible for everyone to switch to 3D design overnight. It is difficult for anyone to immediately know and understand the new processes correctly, and establishing any new process is a very difficult task. At the end of the day, even if the tools are available, we needed to develop the desire to use those tools effectively. This can be seen in case studies of leading companies. But the important thing was for us to work out for ourselves what is best for our company.”
To see the full story on JEOL and understand the steps the company took to establish 3D data throughout its manufacturing operation, click on the link below to register for the free download.
About ‘Improving Lean Manufacturing Through 3D Data’ by Dr Hiroshi Toriya.
The book is now published in English and is available as a free e-book at www.lattice3d.com
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