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Concurrent Engineering Blog

How to Overcome the Challenges of Designing Large Assemblies

Posted by Emma Rudeck on 22-Aug-2014 13:15:00

LargeAssembliesRight from the start of the process, the proverbial drawing board, there are real design challenges involved in creating large assembly lines. This can be for several reasons. Often the customer will not know exactly what they want their automated assembly line to do, so this inevitably impacts on the design process.  On top of this, there can also be changes made to the underlying product, which mean the design of the assembly needs to be altered. 

Unfortunately, starting the design process can’t usually wait until the underlying product is finalised. That’s why designers working in this area have to look for innovative ways to work around the challenges.

What practical steps can designers take?

Essential, overcoming these challenges comes down to using a flexible design process, which all starts by building a skeleton system in Creo. This enables designers to have a top level view, with the number of stations on the line, where they’ll be placed and how they’ll be connected. After this initial stage, the designers then build out the skeleton for each station. 

Using this process, work can then begin on each station. It means that even if an entire station has to be moved or changed, work can get started on designing the assembly. This approach also makes it easier for designers to quickly respond to changes from their customers and include these into the design.

How can designers manage the breadth of design work involved?

Another challenge that arises from large assemblies comes from distributing the design work across multiple engineers. There is always a challenge when it comes to making sure that the changes made by one designer don’t impact the work of another. It’s also important to ensure that any changes get shared with other people working on the project as soon as possible. As, if this doesn’t happen, then it can lead to people working on designs that have already changed.

One way to manage this is to assign the responsibility of each station on the assembly line to one designer, so there is no confusion about who is working on which aspect. It’s also worth considering having a rule that designers cannot modify the design of the model above their station. Instead, have a lead designer who is the only person able to make changes to the main assembly skeleton. 

With this structure in place, designers can start to work on their individual station. If and when any changes are made to the requirements, then it’s important for the design team to decide the level of the assembly that will be affected by the change – at the overall skeleton level, the station level, or even below this – then assign the change to the relevant designer. 

Creo enables users to meet the challenges of designing large assemblies. Its skeleton structure also supports the flexibility required to react to changing customer requirements, without compromising on design quality. To find out more about using Creo, take a free trial today.