Data Management for Robot development

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"The linkage of the CAD Systems with SAP PLM has become indispensible. It controls our processes … and saves us from … long searches or even loss of data."

Christoph Illmer, ABB

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About ABB

ABB Robotics is a leading supplier of industrial robots, robot software, modular robotic manufacturing cells and offers services for a broad range of applications in automation. These products and services make it possible for customers to increase productivity and product quality as well as to enhance work place safety. ABB has installed more than 160,000 robots worldwide.
ABB’s product and service offerings in the Robotics division encompass industrial robots, standard cells, customer-specific system solutions and services with emphasis on the customer segments: automotive and supply industry and production industries. A top priority is robot sales to system partners. In addition to product manufacturing, the company’s core competencies include planning and development of arc welding systems and facilities for the core areas: machine operations, foundries and forgers, paint applications, shell construction facilities and press automation systems.

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The robot specialists, always wanting to stay on the ball when it comes to innovative tools for development and production, started evaluating new CAD technologies early on. First, they implemented AutoCAD, and then in 1999 they took the first steps into 3D design engineering using Autodesk Mechanical Desktop. Three years later ABB converted to Autodesk Inventor. The 3D system now has 13 users, two of which are Inventor Professional. Dirk Walther, is a plant facility planner, engineer and CAD administrator with ABB and is pleased about the sharp increase in Inventor’s development and its enhanced functionality. ABB values, for example, the simulation of complex motion-sequences, quantity computation, collision analyses and the variant engineering of parts and assemblies. The extensive interfaces for data exchange have also become extremely important for the company and its work with partners and customers, especially because ABB uses multiple systems. When planning large paint facilities, ABB uses five MicroStation systems. The company uses Delmia’s Product IGRIP and Software Robotstudio, a simulation tool developed by ABB for robot simulations. Both programs are capable of importing Inventor data.

The growing scope and variety of documents and data formats in robot development affects the engineers’ productivity. It was becoming clearer for those responsible that they needed to create an analogous infrastructure and system for electronic documents, like what was previously used for paper documents, in order to create more efficient processes and to ensure data security.

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AutoCAD and Inventor full integrated
ABB Automation gathered its first experiences with data management in 2004 with the implementation of the newly developed Autodesk Vault module, which is an integrated component of the Inventor package. A year later the company made a strategic decision to shift the administration of engineering data into the SAP system and migrated the Vault data to the SAP PLM module. “SAP plays a very central role for us and therefore should not only control and administer the merchandise management, but also the processes, data and documents in the Engineering department. That’s why we implemented the CIDEON module SAP PLM Integration for Inventor as the interface between Inventor and SAP PLM. This software makes the transparent operations with SAP PLM possible from within the CAD system.“, explained Dirk Walther.

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Products used for ABB's solution:

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Logo V6 Software Partner   CIDEON is SAP Platinum Partner

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Phone: (484) 532-7800


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