One of the hottest topics in design today, model-based definition, or MBD, is a way of creating 3D models so that they effectively contain all the data needed to define a product. With MBD, the model becomes the source authority that drives all engineering activities. This model may further be used downstream by suppliers and across organizations within an enterprise.
The result? Increased collaboration across an organization and a single source of truth for engineering, manufacturing, quality, and the supply base. The benefits of MBD are clear, but it’s important to understand why MBD and annotated 3D models are so impactful to the product design process and how companies are transitioning their systems to accommodate for it.
So, what exactly is MBD, why do you need it, and how do you get it? PTC recently hosted a webinar, Why You Need Model-Based Definition Now, to answer exactly those questions. The webinar included an expert panel discussion covering a number of important MBD topics and concluded with a short demo of Creo’s MBD capabilities. Read on for a recap of the webinar and check out the on-demand recording here.
The roundtable panel discussion kicked off with an introduction by moderator Jim Anderton, Multimedia Content Director at Engineering.com. He introduced the panel’s four speakers: Rosemary Astheimer, Assistant Professor of Practice at Purdue Polytechnic; Tom Quaglia, Director of CAD Strategic Accounts at PTC; Mark Nielsen, President at TechAzul; and Dave Martin of MCAE Consulting. The panel began with each speaker explaining their experience with MBD and why the topic is particularly relevant right now.
“I have numerous customers that are on the cusp of either embarking on the journey for model-based definition, or thinking about it, or are maybe further down the path,” Quaglia said.
“Model-based definition is a method for delivering the product information to customers in a unique and easy-to-use format,” Nielsen said. He then expanded into an explanation of MBD by looking at the product development process and the model-based enterprise, or MBE.
“We used to duplicate data,” Astheimer explains. “We would have a 3D CAD model, we would create a 2D drawing of that CAD model, and if someone made notes or changes to that drawing, that information often didn’t get conveyed back to design. So by using model-based definition, we hopefully have all the data in one place, in one model, and we can push that out to the enterprise so anybody involved in any aspect of a product has the current data, the current version.”
Martin then explained how MBD can allow non-engineers within an organization to view models in a way they can understand.
“The great thing about working with MBD in a product lifecycle management environment is that you are connected to that database,” he said. “People can pull up the models and see them in 3D. They don’t need to have that engineering background where they can translate a 2D drawing, where you have the different projected views…and then figure out ‘What does this actually look like in the real world?’. With MBD, they are pulling up the 3D model in a lightweight viewer through a web browser. They can spin it around, they can zoom in/zoom out, and they can see all those different details. So, it makes those engineering drawings and documentation available to people in the real world who are not familiar with engineering.”
The conversation then evolved to the various use cases surrounding MBD and why many organizations are adopting it as a best practice. Martin expanded upon the ways MBD can offer a competitive advantage in terms of product time-to-market.
“Getting to market first provides a tremendous advantage,” he said. “You’re looking for anything that can make you faster, and by using model-based definition, by eliminating all the tedium and the work and the time that’s involved with 2D drawings and checking those drawings and releasing those drawings, that provides you a competitive advantage.”
Anderton posed the topic of data security and the importance of protecting intellectual property (IP) while still being able to share MBD models with stakeholders to the panel.
“That’s one of the requisites of a really good technical data package, especially when you have a downstream deliverable,” Nielsen said. “You can filter out a lot of those pieces. The IP is technically in the core CAD tool. Like in Creo, there’s lots of stuff a seasoned person can look at and pull that information out. But if you translate it into another format…a lot of those interactions and how things work gets stripped out.”
Martin explained that many businesses are moving more confidently toward cloud data storage at this point in time.
“When you have tools like Windchill, you can control who has different access rights and prevent people from being able to modify or even see the different models and drawing that you don’t want them to see,” he said. “It isn’t as cloak-and-dagger as I remember even 10-15 years ago in terms of data security because you have the ability to manage security through the internet.”
“And with the one single source of truth, you can control who gets access to that one single source of truth, and there should be a lot less copies of it floating around” Quaglia added.
The panel then discussed the ways MBD can simplify engineering and workflows to other production teams.
“[Engineers’] endgame is to make a part, and they want the part to be the way they want it” Nielsen said. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, did I do my CAD model right?’ It’s, ‘Did I give [the team] the tools to inspect and manufacture that part, and can they clearly and easily understand it?’ That’s the big endgame: Not just simplifying it, but streamlining it for them,” he explained.
“Presenting it in a way that it can be digested correctly,” Quaglia agreed.
Astheimer then added that while MBD does bring great benefits to product design workflows, it can often be perceived as adding extra work.
“Change is never easy no matter what,” she said. “That can be a little bit of a barrier, and I think that really requires an organizational culture shift coming down from the top…helping those people understand the greater benefit.”
She said those benefits include reducing change orders and manufacturing products as they are designed.
“Overall, that’s going to help the company save time, which saves money and makes you more competitive,” she said.
Nielson said one of the top metrics to look at when implementing a model-based system is first-time quality, which looks at how long it takes for engineers to make the next revision on a new product.
“That’s a good way to justify [adopting MBD],” he said. “You can prove…it used to take us five iterations until we finally got a production-capable part, and now we do it in one. That’s your proof right there.”
When asked how companies can begin their journey to MBD, Astheimer again stressed the importance of a top-down approach.
“You’ve got to get your upper management bought in so they can help drive that and make sure it is being enforced,” she said. “Obviously doing it all at once is overwhelming, so introducing little bits at a time I think is a good way to do it.”
Nielson said showing non-engineering teams how MBD can be a win for them as well is crucial. His examples of this included showing supply chain teams the changes made in the latest version and proving to quality teams how much time they can save on inspections.
“Every group has a win coming out of it,” Quaglia said. “Leadership does have to get involved, and they have to tell what the benefits are, why they’re doing it, and make sure they’re not going to waver when people start hemming and hawing.”
“It’s easier than you think,” Nielson said. “You can find the win in these other groups, and you can make it work throughout the enterprise. It just takes a little bit of people showing them some things and asking what’s important to them and incorporating that into your MBD design technical data package.”
Astheimer added that because MBD technology will continue to evolve, “Go into it with an open mind and [don’t] have exact expectations,” she said. “Work with what you can, and you’ll get benefits from it.”
Watch the full webinar on-demand to learn more about model-based definition from our panel of experts.