Improving Canadian Automotive Die Cast Tooling development with SOLIDWORKS PDM

Burlington Technologies needed a PDM system to manage revisions and automate their die cast tooling business workflow

Burlington Technologies, Inc. produces high-pressure aluminum die cast tooling, which automotive companies use to produce numerous parts. As a world-class tooling manufacturer, the Burlington Centennial division continually evaluates ways to boost productivity in the development and machining of die-casting tools for the automotive industry.

According to Ivan Zuccolin, manager of corporate die cast tooling at the Centennial division, the company’s move to 3D solid modeling in 2006 created the opportunity to implement a product data management (PDM) system. “We transitioned from a 3D wireframe package to the SOLIDWORKS® 3D CAD system and almost simultaneously evaluated available PDM solutions,” Zuccolin recalls. “We not only needed a revision control application, but also wanted a solution for controlling workflow by automatically moving a design document from one stage to the next.”

Burlington consulted with TriMech, its SOLIDWORKS reseller, on PDM solutions, and implemented SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional software at its Centennial and Burlington divisions in concert with SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software. Burlington chose SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional because it is easy to use, provides valuable PDM capabilities for the price, integrates fully with SOLIDWORKS, and is simple to install. “We wanted something quick, easy, and fully integrated with SOLIDWORKS, and SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional provided the functionality we needed within our budget,” Zuccolin explains.

“We had SOLIDWORKS up and running in a month and implemented SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional within a week.”

Ensuring the correct revisions for die cast tooling

Since implementing SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, Burlington no longer experiences any of the design revision, file confusion, and incorrect data problems it encountered using Windows® folders to manage design data. “Before we installed SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, the largest source of complaints was someone realizing they had the wrong file, design revision, or drawing,” Zuccolin points out. “Our designers had to make a local copy of a file and then save it with a different file name. Some designers had different naming conventions and used their own ‘flavor.’ With many files bouncing back and forth, knowing the correct file revision was a messy process.

“We used to operate on the honor system to maintain revision control, relying on our designers to determine the right revision. With SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, we can police the system to such an extent that we simply cannot make these kinds of mistakes. There are no disputes over who changed, deleted, or overwrote a file, because the system controls revisions and can completely trace user interactions and revisions.”

Saving time, eliminating errors

SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional helps Burlington save time above and beyond the productivity boost generated by SOLIDWORKS CAD software, while eliminating costly design errors. Instead of searching through a folder system to drill down to a particular piece of design data, users can now use references within SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional to locate files almost instantaneously. Because the system tracks, manages, and secures all design data, Burlington is weeding out errors that once had to be resolved through costly rework.

“In the past, we had to deal with a lot of misaligned bolt holes, which resulted in considerable amounts of rework during production,” Zuccolin says. “Now, our design data is more accurate and reliable. When we do need to make a design change, it’s much faster. We had two designers go head-to-head on the same project: one used SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS PDM, and the other used our previous 3D wireframe application. When we asked each of them to make a design change, the designer using SOLIDWORKS PDM was able to complete the change in about a third of the time it took the other designer.”

Component from tooling

Component from tooling

Boosting productivity with workflow automation

Burlington realizes additional benefits with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional through the establishment of automated workflows. In addition to securing and managing all of Burlington’s design data, including drawings, models, STEP files, translations, and mold-flow analysis reports, SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional organizes and automates the sequence of process steps, reviews, and approvals required to take a tool design from inception through production.

A customer request for a design change illustrates this workflow automation. “A sales representative receives a customer request for a design change,” Zuccolin explains. “He goes into the vault and requests the change, which initiates a workflow. I then receive an automatically generated email to schedule the work. After making the change, I bump the state to feasible, and the sales representative gets an automatically generated email to quote. The system guides the organization through every step of the process, and generates emails automatically when necessary.”