The Way of the 3D Drawing – XVL as a Backbone of the MAN Process Chain
"Since January 2006, MAN Commercial Vehicles Group has been automatically converting selected 3D design data to XVL and using it for the distribution of 3D design data in the process chain", said Dieter Ziethen, Project Leader in the Information Technology CAE Group, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG, "XVL is a 'favorite technology' and the 3D XVL Player is installed on nearly every PC".
The MAN Group is one of Europe's leading manufacturers of vehicles, engines and mechanical engineering equipment with annual sales of circa 13 billion Euro. MAN provides trucks, buses, diesel engines, turbomachines as well as industrial services and numbers some 50,000 employees worldwide. MAN's core areas hold leading positions in their respective markets. As one of the 30 leading German companies, MAN AG (Munich) is a member of the German stock index, or DAX.
MAN Group's slogan is 'Engineering the Future' and the company has a proud tradition of innovation in the creation and adoption of technology that has kept MAN at the forefront of design and manufacturing in a wide spectrum precision-engineered products. MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG is the largest company in the MAN Group and produces 68,200 trucks and 6,000 coaches per annum, has revenues of 7.4 billion Euro and 33,000 employees. XVL is one of the latest technologies adopted by the MAN Group – initially in MAN Nutzfahrzeuge, "where XVL Player is already installed on nearly every PC across the company".
MAN has a reputation in the IT industry for thorough testing and very limited selection of IT vendors, then deep integration to achieve business objectives and ROI. 3D has been no exception as Dieter Ziethen, Project Leader in the Information Technology CAE Group, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG explained. "Design communication within the company and with its suppliers has, traditionally, been via 2D drawing exchange. Despite the implementation of 3D CAD systems in design departments, nearly all information distributed remained in 2D. However, it was always our goal that 3D design data including design information and markups, to be deployed across the whole company. The introduction of XVL has enabled us to achieve our goal of sharing 3D information throughout the process."
The Way of 3D Drawing
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge's motivation was to improve data quality and enable 3D-data for the whole process chain. The reasons are that 3D-data can be visualized in the whole process chain because it is less abstract than a 2D conventional drawing. In addition because the design is done in 3D the design departments will see a reduction in time because the 2D drawing production step will be avoided. Finally non-CAD trained staff across the virtual organization will be able to visualize and interrogate design models thereby enabling easier cooperation on a common data basis and including refinements such as 3D animations of assembly and disassembly, 'exploded' part views Events And Animations:
To achieve that "a common basis for communication was needed that would address the whole process, for the whole company – no matter what different CAD-systems were used".
Why did MAN Nutzfahrzeuge choose XVL?
The MAN Process Chain – showing how 3D XVL transcends the CAD availability
Dieter Ziethen, Project Leader in the Information Technology CAE Group, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG, explained, "XVL is a 'favorite technology' for us and the XVL Player is now installed on nearly every PC – for the following 11 reasons:"
- XVL is CAD-system independent and has converters for all significant CAD systems
- XVL is a lightweight format - extremely high compression typically between 1/50 and 1/250
- With a single XVL file, we can also do measurement.
- XVL has a good integration capability with MS Office, and integration with other systems is readily possible
- XVL has a small memory consumption
- XVL can be viewed on very inexpensive computers
- XVL has a capability of generating 2D illustrations
- XVL is accurate enough so that we can import XVL data back to CAD systems
- XVL Player has good mouse operation integration
- XVL has optional encryption security
- XVL has an constant visualization quality no matter if you zoom in or out
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge thoroughly tested XVL converting many test examples and ensuring the dependability and accuracy of the data as well as the scalability and security of the process. "For instance, the data of a bus frame that was 45MB in CATIA can be compressed to 630KB or less by XVL. And yet, the precision is maintained even if the data is vastly compressed. Anyone can obtain an exact dimension when they need to take a measurement of even the finest details. At MAN we have been very impressed with the high precision by XVL."
When conducting a data conversion test flow like CATIA V5 -> .XV3 ->IGES – STEP203 -> CATIA V5, we found only minor data losses or change in the structure expect a few surfaces were replaced with single surfaces. Changes in dimensions were at the micro millimeter level and the data was almost perfect. In the example above, the original CATIA V5 model as 10 MB "In summary XVL is a very small, but accurate format that can be flexibly used with Lattice Technology's software solutions enabling us to communicate, view, measure and publish our 3D data in a wide variety of ways" said Dieter Ziethen.
Progress to Date
The overall process of the design departments is reflected in the following diagram which also highlights the use of many Lattice Technology applications that facilitate downstream use of the 3D data:
In the Design department, XVL data is deployed in various applications, and "XVL is utilized as a communication means in all processes, for example, in the Design department for their discussion, information exchange with suppliers and for communication between technical sales and their customers."
When a CAD designer checks in a CATIA model, an equivalent XVL file is automatically generated and stored in MAN's product data management system (EZIS) from where they are released for viewing and publishing tasks e.g. XVL is already in wide use in MAN Nutzfahrzeuge for example as a product design viewing and discussion tool for use with suppliers and customers and will be used for the production of technical publications in a variety of vector or raster formats for easy use in illustrations, education and marketing.
Another example is the coach department which recently introduced XVL and are currently in the process of storing couch data in EZIS. In EZIS, if a specific part is clicked from a parts list, various operations are possible including displaying a selected part view, deletion of part views and automatic creation of an exploded parts views.
Communications with Suppliers
Instead of sending CATIA files, MAN will send XVL files or IGES files converted with XVL-Studio to suppliers so that they can reference the MAN-defined geometry and other design information. For this purpose, instead of exact data, MAN will use XVL files with high but deliberately reduced accuracy.
Development of technical documentation can start at an earlier phase than before the re-use of 3D data. The production process for technical documentation utilizes XVL as a backbone has been successfully defined as this diagram illustrates. Furthermore, XVL models can be animated and still retain their exceptional compression. Alternatively output can be an SVG illustration or an HTML page or 3D PDF. This flexibility in processing and reuse of XVL data is highly appreciated.
Instead of a static image display in the assembly line, MAN is planning to display animated instructions both for faster training on on-the-job guidance and reference.
Instead of using 2D paper based views, MAN is planning to use 3D data for better confirmation of measuring points and geometry. Currently quality assurance is creating special QA drawing from scratch each time but in the future, this drawing creation will utilize the existing 3D data. Going forward, 3D will be used for all drawings for all our customers and this will shorten information exchange and understanding time dramatically as well as make these exchanges much richer due to the addition of other useful information.
"For the future we look forward to eliminating the time consuming 2D drawing stage and only using more effective 3D digital models in as many areas as possible. We see many tasks becoming easier and simpler to understand as we move from static 2D drawings, crowded with information, to dynamic 3D models that deliver animated information at the time it is needed"
— Dieter Ziethen, Project Leader in the Information Technology CAE Group, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Contact:
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG
Dachauer Straße 667
Phone: +49 (89) 15 80 - 01
Fax: +49 (89) 150 39 72
TID was established in 1976 to provide services in the field of technical documentation. Since 1988, TID has developed software for technical illustration (ACAD Illustrator) and electronic spare part catalogs (CATALOG creator). Today, TID is one of the main resellers of Lattice Technology software in Europe. MAN has chosen TID Informatik as its Lattice Technology software supplier.