Workshop at OPTIMA
What set this open workshop off in the first place was a mechatronics forum at Festo in Esslingen (Germany). For the first time, an open space event on mechatronics has been held. However, due to the shortage of time, left many questions unanswered. To put it another way: The subject was ‘spot on’, there was an enormous need for discussion and this is why Dr. Pfeifer, COE at OPTIMA, extended an invitation to interested participants to continue the discussion in Schwaebisch Hall under the subject “Mechatronical Organization”. Here is a brief summary of his article of October 10, 2005:
It is not that long ago that typically 80% of machine costs had been defined by mechanics. Meanwhile, the parameters have changed dramatically: shorter lead times, increased pricing pressure, complex interlinked machine lines and customer-specific interfaces to other systems. Given the organizational means at the time, it would not have been possible to manage the transformation process and innovative push into the ‘modern age’ of engineering. The first step at OPTIMA was the introduction of the so-called quality gate concept (VDMA). Each project is now divided into typical phases (e.g. design & procurement…) with their typical tasks/actions (e.g. design review, format parts bill of materials, software creation…) and schedules. The progress of the project is now clear and easy to read thanks to graphical editing and signal colors.
For further optimization of engineering procedures, a mechantronic approach – all disciplines such as software, mechanics, etc. are now coequal – was chosen in order to achieve two distinct goals. On the one hand, a synchronization of the different requirements of the disciplines, and on the other hand, a standardization across projects: Here, a machine structure organizationally consists of structure trees visualized in charts, containing all functional modules and including all specifications, parameters, and characteristics. This way, the project planning becomes more focused in content and it is easier to monitor the progress of the project. The extensive specifications arising from each project will, over time, form a library of already implemented and reusable functional modules that include both hardware and software components. Eventually, this transparency promotes quality improvement and the verifiability of the entire lines.
The result of the changed project organization: The target/actual variance with regard to costs and deadlines has decreased by an average of 15%. At the same time, energy costs have been significantly reduced for resembling projects. An essential precondition for remaining on the cutting edge of international markets. The next step will be similar to the tests in the mechanical field, to further automate software tests so that project outcomes will lead to an even better reproducibility of the results.