In some industries, you engineer products to be sturdy so that they’ll survive an accidental drop from the kitchen counter. In other industries, you’re up against far more hostile elements. In fact, you may be engineering for users who intentionally beat up your things—over and over. Rába Axle, whose tag line is “We Engineer, You Drive” produces products that tend to fall into the hands of those less-than-gentle users.
You can find Rába in desert racers (as in the KM Racing video above), military vehicles, city buses, and John Deere tractors—each relying on the durability and ruggedness of Rába designs. The Hungarian company’s reputation for dependability is such that Rába even produces the axles for the security vehicles slated to patrol the 2016 summer Olympics. The company has been so successful lately that last year was one of its most profitable.
That said, behind the scenes, serious challenges arise for even the best engineering teams. It wasn’t too long ago that Rába worried about meeting the demands of one of its highest profile customers, Isuzu. The Japanese automaker needed someone to fill a large axle order—a perfect opportunity for Rába. But to meet Isuzu’s demands, Rába would have to ratchet up its quality and, at the same time, bring production costs lower. Engineers quickly realized they would have to completely redesign their product to take advantage of the Isuzu contract.
So here’s what they did.
With PTC Creo, engineers created 3D designs quickly and accurately, building virtual prototypes that improved product quality and reduced time to market.
In many cases, once a model is completed, designers then send it to physical prototyping or to analysts for evaluation. But with PTC Creo Simulate, the design engineer can run his or her own preliminary analysis and make adjustments to the model accordingly. PTC Creo Simulate performs structural, thermal, and vibration analyses with a comprehensive set of finite element analysis (FEA) capabilities, so the engineer can study how the design will perform in the real world–say on a desert washboard road. The software offers valuable insight that helps speed time-to-market, while increasing product durability, reliability, and safety.
The final piece of the solution for Rába involved PTC Windchill PDMLink, a web-based product data management (PDM) system that professionally vaults designs and associated information in a central, trusted repository. So any time the engineering team wants to update or fully redesign an axle or other part, it’s easy to find existing models to build from. It’s also easy for other team members to see and share the data. PTC Windchill PDMLink ensures nobody loses time looking for the most recent version of a file or overwriting someone else’s work.
How did it work out for Rába Axles? That’s the best part of the story. By optimizing the new axle design with PTC Creo Simulate, engineers took 40kg mass off the design. A process that once took 8 days was trimmed to 2 days thanks to some process changes introduced with PTC Windchill, and manufacturing costs went down 50%.
If you’re impressed with those numbers, you’re not alone. Isuzu promoted the company to its highest level (“A ”) supplier status based on their excellent results!