Developing cool new products faster and more efficiently
Based in Mexico, Criotec has been manufacturing commercial refrigeration equipment for more than 25 years. Located in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon (the Monterrey Metropolitan area), the company designs and builds 250,000 products annually. Criotec works closely with customers to meet their cooling needs and custom-builds products to fit a wide variety of applications, including equipment for keeping food and beverages cool, as well as freezers and cold rooms. Criotec has more than 800 skilled employees, including a team of engineers and technicians trained in design, development and manufacturing.
Criotec competes in the commercial refrigeration industry by tailoring its cooling systems to meet the needs of every customer. To this end, in 2009, company engineers decided it was necessary to adopt a more agile and better-equipped product development system. The goal: increase development capacity by 30 percent.
To address this challenge, the new product development area, lead by Eduin Villanueva, engineering manager at Criotec, decided to seek a product lifecycle management (PLM) system that would allow the company to streamline its processes and reduce development time. “The challenge we face daily is to shorten response times for each design and its customization for each client, allowing us to quickly develop custom-made products for our customers,” says Villanueva.
Projects completed 50 percent faster
The choice of Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge® software and Femap™ software for product development has proven to help the design team more easily manipulate data as well as deliver more complete visualizations of product designs. Depending on the complexity of the product, with the previous system it took from eight to 10 months, and sometimes as long as a year, to finish a design. Now, using Solid Edge, the design of a new product typically can be completed in four to five months.
That 50 percent faster turnaround in developing customized refrigeration and freezing equipment is primarily made possible using the 3D part modeling, assembly, data management and sheet metal part design capabilities of Solid Edge. Also, with synchronous technology, modeling is faster and easier, reducing steps in the design process. “In the process of designing a part, you first start with the sketch. However, by using synchronous technology, once you have created the solid product, you can make changes directly to it without having to go back to the sketch, considerably benefiting the response time,” says Villanueva.
Criotec also uses the finite element structural analysis functionality of Femap. “The versatility we have with these software systems for parts modeling and the ability to visualize a new design in a very practical manner and with great precision has benefited us greatly, especially with regards to validation time and material savings, which accounts for approximately 30 percent savings,” says Villanueva.
Validating designs digitally saves time and costs
The combination of using Solid Edge and Femap for development is quite productive throughout the product lifecycle at Criotec. Using PLM technology has made a great difference for Criotec. In doing so, the company has saved, on average, 30 percent in materials and 50 percent in manual labor.
Villanueva notes that the simulation and finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities of Femap are fostering exceptional process efficiencies. For example, the speed at which Criotec users can now simulate loads to determine the best designs has resulted in significant time savings. Villanueva explains, “In reducing time, we save costs by making more rapid digital validations. This has been a big change, because before we had to conduct physical validations to ensure the customer’s requirements were met.”
The validation process has come a long way through the use of Solid Edge and Femap. Previously, due to the complexity and poor resolution of designs, the main parts of the design were first sent to manufacture and, based on these results, the assembly took place. Today, the complete design is done digitally, including sub-assemblies. After this process is complete, the pieces are sent to manufacturing, considerably reducing any design flaws.
In addition, using Solid Edge to quickly show an exploded view of all parts in a product assembly helps the company highlight which parts will need to be replaced periodically. This helps customers understand product maintenance requirements. “One of the benefits of Solid Edge is that if you make a change, it is automatically reflected in the entire design,” says Villanueva. “In the process, many improvements are made during product assembly.” He emphasizes, “Solid Edge automatically makes all the changes.”