Taking Information to a New Level

August 20, 2013

For the students who constructed a UAV, it had been an exciting project full of creative challenges. For the arms manufacturer the project, named Local Hawk, served two purposes: identify talents to recruit and take PLM based information to a new level. “We are looking at ways to gather complex information in structures that facilitate sharing and working with others. This is Model-Based Systems Engineering. Our student project is a way to test diˆerent solutions,” says Torfinn Tobiassen, Manager at the Flight Structures Department.

Store intellectual capital

Kongsberg Defence Aerospace, which manufactures missiles and other aerospace products, has been working with Technia and ENOVIA PLM for years.
“Traditionally, PLM focuses on physical products, what they look like and how they are made. We are looking at ways to Kongsberg Defence Aerospace also incorporate background information on requirements, functions and concepts,” says Tobiassen.

Such information has the potential to facilitate collaboration, make it easier to recycle solutions and experiences, and help retain intellectual capital that may otherwise leave the company. “Our projects are complex and can run over 15 years. When a key developer retires or takes another job, we lose valuable information. We need to document it in such a way that others can find it and use it,” says Ivar Opdal, Manager Product Performance.

A study among KDA developers showed they got 60-70 percent of their information from external sources. Only 30 percent of the information came from the company’s own database.

Another internal study indicated that up to 80 percent of documents deemed important and stored in the PLM system were never read. “Our conclusion is that staŠffers are struggling to find the right information. It is hard to find, even when it is in our own system. There is room for improvement,” says Opdal.

The challenge

In February, the aerospace group started testing the RFLP solution from Dassault
Systemès based on CATIA V6 and ENOVIA V6. RFLP links information on product
requirements (R), product functions (F), logical (L) components, and detailed physical (P) components. For instance, clicking on the image of a nose wheel and all kinds of relevant information linked to the development of that nose wheel is revealed. Or click on “landing,” and the nose wheel and other issues related to landing appear as entries.

“We want all elements of information to interconnect,” says Tobiassen.
The defense manufacturer has started to implement carmaker Toyota’s A3 process, used in lean manufacturing. Corrective actions, analyses, action plans and other information are written down on single sheets of A3-sized paper, often with simple graphics.

It will lead to massive documentation. In a typical project 400 engineers will write two A3 reports per week for 15 years, adding up to tens of thousands of documents. Much of the knowledge may otherwise have been lost, such as background as to why aluminum and not steel is used in a certain component or why a 5 mm radius is used and not a 7 mm radius, etc.

The challenge will be to find the right information exactly when it is needed.
Next summer, a new batch of engineering students will join a new season of the Local Hawk Project to build UAVs. But this time they won’t start from scratch. They will have access to RFLP documentation made by last year’s students. “It will be interesting to see how much headway they get with that kind of documentation,” says Tobiassen.

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Ketil Aamold

Sales Executive

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Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS is part of the Norwegian company Kongsberg Gruppen (www.kongsberg.com), which, among other things, makes systems for command and control, weapons guidance and surveillance, communications solutions and missiles.


Torfinn Tobiassen, Manager at the Flight Structures Department

The information project has the potential to facilitate collaboration, make it easier to recycle solutions and experiences, and help retain intellectual capital. Have a look at the Local Hawk project 2012: www.localhawk.net