model-based enterprise

Model-based enterprise (MBE) is an engineering strategy that aims to clarify design intent during the manufacturing process by using a 3D model-based definition (MBD) that includes all the product and manufacturing information (PMI) associated with manufacturing the product. The goal of MBE is to improve efficiency, produce better quality products and reduce costs.

One of the biggest advantages of MBE is it replaces costly and inefficient paper-based systems. 2D drawings showing a single annotated view of a part or product have been the industry standard, but as with any paper-based document system, Version control, collaboration and the ease and speed of communication are major challenges. In MBE, a single CAD model contains all the information typically found on in an entire set of engineering drawings. This includes geometries and dimensions, tolerances and materials, manufacturing definitions such as weld call-outs and assembly fit-up information. The model can also contain vendor and supply chain information.

One of the key components of MBE is the model-based definition, a 3D CAD model that includes all the PMI associated with manufacturing the product. PMI generally includes 3D annotations for dimensions and tolerances, metadata and model attributes. The 3D MBD replaces traditional 2D design documents, which can be challenging for collaboration and less efficient and costlier, because often hundreds of such documents must be produced during the manufacturing process.

A typical design scenario requires engineers to produce different  documents as they make changes based on information gained during the design process. When the documents reach the manufacturing stage, they are often the cause of delays, inefficiency and waste because they are subject to misinterpretation by manufacturing workers who must take time to determine the designers' intent. A large percentage of scrap and rework in the manufacturing process is due to inaccuracies in the documents, misinterpretations or inefficient collaboration between design and manufacturing. MBE minimizes such problems by adding information required by downstream consumers of the 3D model, who can include manufacturing, suppliers and subcontractors, quality, procurement, maintenance and repair entities. Reusing this single set of engineering data in the model can reduce costs.

MBE was originally developed in the aerospace and automotive industries and has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as well as many companies large and small around the world, from commercial airplane to consumer electronics manufacturers. Significant benefits for manufacturers include reduced time to market and savings in production costs from improved tool design and fabrication, fewer overall assembly hours, less rework, streamlined development and better collaboration on engineering changes.

The engineering department uses MBE and MBD to streamline its design process and improve collaboration by focusing efforts on producing a single CAD model that centralizes all the engineering data. Often, the 3D models can be run in digital manufacturing software that is used to design and simulate manufacturing processes, which means processes can be developed and tested in a low-cost virtual factory before they are used in a real manufacturing setting.

A variety of data sources can contribute to the model including data from product materials in ERP systems, process plans from manufacturing process management (MPM) systems, work instructions from manufacturing execution systems (MES) and quality-control (QC) systems.

A variety of vendors offer applications for creating 3D models for MBE, which are commonly available in standard file formats that can be viewed with web or desktop applications.

This was last updated in November 2016

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