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PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

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The BMW Groups tool and


machine shops have also taken a
giant step forward over the past
twelve months. With the help of the
Tebis and ProLeiS software packages, they have sigificantly
boosted efficiency in the
development and production
of tools and equipment.
Roughly 1,200 people work in
the companys three tool and
machine shops in Dingolfing,
Munich and Eisenach.
In Dingolfing alone, 600
employees use over 70
machine tools, integration
presses, milling machines and
high-speed cutters to produce
several hundred dies and
other equipment every year.
They have been using Tebis
CAD/CAM systems for these
tasks since 1989. Today, a
total of 46 licenced Tebis
CAD/CAM workstations are

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installed in the individual BMW tool shops. For


over ten years, Tebis and
BMW have carried out a
number of joint projects
in which they have developed a variety of solutions aimed at
optimizing the overall process,
including automatic residual stock
removal, HSC applications and 2.5D
milling as well as the current CAD
and NC viewer technology.
"Here at BMW, we have digitized
nearly all our tool designs, using primarily the Catia-based VAMOS application. Highly detailed CAD modesl
of these designs are now available,"
explains Kurt Bergler, head of the
CAM
department
at
BMWs

"Filters
that reveal certain layer
combinations allow us to further
structure the individual components
and subassemblies so that we can
select a certain view of a specific
extract from the overall design."
Because a portion of the die
design work is carried out by external engineering offices, not all of
which use the VAMOS system, rough-

The
first
file
contains the
volume model that
provides a fully detailed
description of the dies functional
layout, for example, the top and bottom die bases, blank holders, punches, columns, slides, cutting blades,
beveling dies, strippers and cutting
bars. The second file containing the
surface model describes the effective
surfaces, which are the areas of the
die that will give the metal sheet its
later shape. The third file, or the
technology file, contains a detailed
description of all holes in the die, for
example, taps, fits and step holes.

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In ProLeiS, the die structure is displayed on the left, while the detailed clamping position data appears
on the right, including status information for the corresponding NC programs (photos: BMW).

Dingolfing plant. "With the help of


VAMOS, we structure the CAD modules using a great many layers and
thereby describe the individual parts
of the complex overall die.

ly 30 percent of the tools are SolidE


designs developed directly in Catia.
In most cases, this means that there
are three different CAD files following release.

Just like the Catia models used in


component design, the CAD data
describing the die is managed in
BMWs in-house EDM system, known
as Prisma. As ProLeiS project manager Paul Scheuerecker explains, "A
typical die for our vehicle body parts
consists of roughly 200 to 300 components and undergoes an average
of five to ten modifications." Once a
die set has been released for production, it is the tool shops job to manufacture the individual components
and assemble the die. To accomplish
this, toolmakers use ProLeiS, the
central organization and data man-

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agement system from Aachen-based
ID GmbH, which was developed in a
joint project with BMW and Tebis as
a secondary system for Prisma.
The first step is to use a special
connection from ProLeiS to "check
out" the data from Prisma. The next
phase, which is controlled by
ProLeiS with almost no human intervention, involves breaking down the
overall die-description CAD file into
individual production-specific components in Tebis format. By doing

The technology data is assigned


to the individual die components at
the same time, automatically pairing
countless hole features with the correct Tebis CAD files, where they are
sorted according to feature types
and tilt positions and written to
individual layers.

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Over 80 percent of the NC programs for roughing, finishing and
residual stock removal are now written by machine operators on the
shop floor, including 2.5D drilling
and milling programs which are generated automatically by the Tebis
software using feature and NC set
technology. To make this possible,
all DNC PCs installed directly in the
machining centers were equipped

Tebis viewers made it


possible to implement
paperless production
processes in machining
and assembly (photos:
BMW).

this, NC programming and production of the individual die components can be carried out independently and - most importantly - at the
same time. The components are separated on the basis of structures that
were generated by VAMOS or SolidE
and are defined by filters and layers.
ProLeiS keeps the die structure and
individual component assignments
intact even after separation, during
which process ProLeiS intervenes
directly into the Tebis software and
triggers a "physical separation".

As early as the year 2000, BMW


took the important step of expanding the Tebis solution to support the
companys process chain, with the
result that a uniform database can
now by accessed directly from the
shop floor. In addition to the 65 DNC
front-ends in the machining centers,
this involved adding over 100 shop
floor PCs to each workbench group
in Dingolfing, Munich and Eisenach
assembly shops. Because all Tebis
licenses are managed on a central
license server, users can access both
the viewer and CAD/CAM software
from any PC on the shop floor or in
the offices.
Unlimited in terms of model size,
the Tebis viewers come with a wide
range of functions, allowing engineers to determine precise dimensions on the triangulated mock-up
as well as on exact surfaces.
Additional functions are used to
check the quality of surface elements, generate dynamic sections
and display imported drilling features from VAMOS or SolidE.

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with Tebis CAD/CAM software, and


80 machine operators have already
been trained in NC programming.
"We output all calculated 3- and 5axis NC programs in the neutral APT
format, which allows us to choose
the machine at a very late stage,"
says Paul Scheuerecker. During
transfer to the milling machine,
these NC programs are then automatically converted from the standard APT format to the file format
required by the CNC system being
used (on-the-fly post-processing).

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Calculated toolpaths can also be


simulated, analyzed and even edited. "The Tebis viewers receive excellent support from the higher-level
organizational framework of ProLeiS,
which helps the system gain broad
acceptance on the shop floor,"
reports Ludwig Ringlstetter, who is
responsible for viewer implementation. A total of 400 employees have
now received training on the Tebis
viewer.
On the Tebis front-ends, toolmakers can access all the same information they used to obtain from paper
blueprints. The ProLeiS solution
makes sure that the right files are
loaded from the server. For example,
the Tebis viewer software enables
toolmakers to retrieve all details
they need to assemble a die.

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The ProLeiS solution was developed specifically for die and mold
manufacturing and can be used to
manage and display all CAx data
needed for manufacturing as well as
other documents, depending on the
production structures. This means
that the solution provides a paperless concept that has become well
established in practice.
The ability to display CAx files in a
tree structure that resembles
Microsoft Explorer allows users to
quickly and easily access the information they need, organized according to project, method plan, production equipment number, die structure (positions), clamping positions
and NC programs.

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To maximize failure tolerance, the
ProLeiS database application was
implemented as an Oracle-based
client-server solution with a cluster
of Oracle database servers and
redundant file servers. The front-end
was created as a Visual Basic application, while the Tebis software is
integrated via a direct interface.

tural components and generating


offset curves. The results were subsequently stored on a central server.
However, an enormous amount of
paperwork was necessary to clearly
identify data and describe machine
operator tasks. "When changes had
to be made to the overall data
record, which is frequently the case,
we had to go to a lot of trouble to
localize them, which meant repeating most of the work wed done
before," adds Christian van Laak,
who is responsible for NC strategies.
Another problem was the difficulty
of comparing versions consistently,
since the data was stored on local
hard disks.
In contrast, everyone involved in
the process now has easy and reliable tools for locating the CAD files
and NC programs they need. It is not
almost impossible to mix up data, for
example due to the introduction of
new versions, which has helped

earn widespread acceptance for the


CAx process chain and banished
almost all paper documents from the
workshop.
"Initial resistance to the viewer
technology that replaced the conventional die blueprints quickly
turned into enthusiasm," reports
Ludwig Ringlstetter. "The smooth
operation of the ProLeiS solution,
which we have been using in production since September 2001, was
certainly another contributing factor."
Thanks to the version management function in ProLeiS, only one
version - namely, the currently valid
one - is visible and available to
everyone. When changes need to be
made, the files affected are blocked
until they have been released again,
so that everyone can determine the
release status of each individual die
component at any given time.

In addition, the interface to


BMWs in-house document management system Prisma provides direct
access to the CAD data, without
using the Catia system environments
that would otherwise be needed. "In
order to understand the extent to
which our close cooperation with
Tebis AG and ID GmbH has boosted
efficiency, we need to take a look at
how we used to work," says Kurt
Bergler. Before the ProLeiS solution
was introduced, NC programmers
had to tediously select the areas
they needed from the overall CAD
data set and then store them locally
on individual workstations. Only
then could they focus attention on
actual production-specific tasks on
the CAD model, for example, extending certain surfaces, adding struc!2)*%>)4$1*&?21.&K'-LK'7&JF=;J!&M1E&NNC&OPPO

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Even after the overall file has
been broken down into individual
CAD model files, ProLeiS always
retains the assignments between the
individual components and the overall file. If a change was made anywhere in the overall file, therefore,
only the CAD model files affected by
the change have to be replaced.

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A uniform database also paved
the way for workshop-oriented programming (WOP), which has been
gradually implemented over the last
few months. This has turned NC programmers into CAD/CAM data managers and given them greater
responsibility, for they now prepare
and structure the CAD data and
make it available to the workshop.
"Parallel processing has gained a
firm foothold in production, signifi-

cantly shortening lead times per die


while maintaining the same or better quality and helping us meet
deadlines," says Paul Scheuerecker
with a certain amount of pride.
"Thanks to the database analysis
tools, we can also better analyze and
optimize internal processes and
thereby gain a clear picture of
machine capacity utilization, the
implementation of various die types
and sizes as well as the milling
strategies actually used."

Because BMWs toolshops have


the machine capacity to cover only a
portion of the necessary milling
work in-house, the company plans to
integrate its suppliers in the near
future and thereby further augment
the efficiency increases already
achieved in its die manufacturing
operations. To do this, ProLeiS will
be equipped with an interface to
Presto, BMWs in-house remote data
management system, making it possible to exchange CAx and structural data with suppliers.

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All the suppliers need are a


ProLeiS client and an Odette system
with EngDAT functionality. At the
BMW end, teleworking or home
workstations will be integrated in
the same manner. Later expansion
stages include connection to the
tool shops PPS system and additional MDA/PDA functions.
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A total of more than 500 complete


dies with roughly 10,000 CAD models and documents as well as 45,000
NC programs were produced with the
ProLeiS solution over a twelvemonth period. In the future, BMW
plans to add several hundred new
dies each year.

A typical production process


begins with the virtual component, which forms the basis for
designing production equipment and subsequently manufacturing the sheet-metal part
(photo: BMW).

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