ZF Group chooses SPRING Technologies’ NCSIMUL Machine to standardise its machining simulation

SPRING Technologies, a leading player on the PLM and Digital Factory markets, announces the signature of a corporate contract with ZF Group, one of the world’s top 15 first-tier automotive suppliers, for the deployment of the NCSIMUL Machine solution, part of SPRING Technologies’ “NCSIMUL SOLUTIONS” offering. One of industry’s big sub-contractors is setting out to standardise its machining simulation and chose NCSIMUL Machine for a number of reasons, chief among which are its easy integration with the Group’s existing information systems, the range of options for simulating 3D objects and ability to simulate real NC machine operating processes.

The deal signed with the German subsidiary of SPRING Technologies is for nine NCSIMUL Machine licences that will be installed at the Friedrichshafen production site in Germany. The group subsequently plans to deploy the solution at all the Group’s sites worldwide.

The ZF challenge
ZF Group is a leading name in the automotive supply chain, with a track record in the manufacturing of transmission, steering systems, axles and chassis parts that goes back nearly 100 years. The company now develops a complete range of products for the automobile, trucks, farm machinery and marine industries. The group has a total of 125 production plants on every continent (Europe, North and South America, Asia) and has a worldwide workforce of 61,000, in addition to its extensive distribution network.

The R&D department in Germany prepares all the NC (Numerical Control) systems and defines the best practices and optimal production methods. Using PTC’s Pro/ENGINEER package for its 3D CAD and Pro/NC, along with Edgecam, for its CAM applications, ZF was looking for a machining simulation tool that would increase productivity, secure its machining operations and cut NC programming times.

The project
ZF approached the market with a very precise set of functional and organisational specifications including:

  • A standardised machining simulation solution.
  • The integration of the new solution with its existing information systems (varying significantly from country to country: SAP, Oracle, etc.).
  • Ease of use. This criteria was key in the choice of NCSIMUL Machine, a tool that is flexible and open, and quick to learn and implement by all operators at multiple production sites running 5- to 7-axis machines.
  • The interaction between NCSIMUL Machine and the different CAM solutions used in the factories.
  • The support for 3D objects and the ability to use them in simulations, along with the geometry, tools, attachments, workpieces, etc.
  • Support for a range of NC machine tools and controllers.
  • The importance of being able to simulate real-world NC machine tool processes using ISO code.
  • The interconnection between the simulation solution and the existing NC programming systems.

In addition to these functional demands, ZF was looking for a true partnership to support the whole change management process with a comprehensive service portfolio, and above all a specialist in post-processors. SPRING Technologies Germany made the difference end-to-end through the benchmarking process.

Partner viewpoints
Peter Robl, Manager of the Passau plant and Process Engineering manager for all ZF Group’s production plants said: “We launched our call for bids in 2008 to find a machining simulation solution that would make us more competitive than ever on our markets. Our specs contained 248 precise points reflecting our needs in terms of functionalities, organisation and the services we wanted to set up. NCSIMUL Machine and SPRING Technologies made the difference. We have begun by introducing the solution on a pilot site in Germany, and we shall then deploy more widely to standardise our production tools, optimising and securing our CAD/CAM data exchange. Our goal is simply to stay up there among the world’s top 15 industrial suppliers.”
Gilles Battier, CEO of SPRING Technologies said: “When we opened our operation in Germany just two years ago we were convinced that we would be bringing leading-edge technologies for the NCSIMUL SOLUTIONS to this industrial market. The signature of this contract with a group that has the standing of ZF is a reward for our corporate strategy. In fact, since 2007 our German subsidiary has been returning constantly stronger figures; and this is only the start.”

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