HOOPS and Proplanner Combine 3D Model Data and PLM to Realize Industry 4.0


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Oregon company Tech Soft 3D, with offices also in California, England, France, and Japan, is a provider of engineering software development kits (SDKS) through its HOOPS Platform, and offers other tools, like Polygonica and Siemens Parasolid, that help software teams deliver successful applications in additive manufacturing.

Now, the company has announced that Proplanner, a PLM-MDM (Manufacturing Data Management for the Product Lifecycle) solutions provider, will be using HOOPS to integrate 3D model data into its Assembly Planner for data management and desktop, mobile, and web product planning and visualization.

(Image courtesy of Proplanner)

Product data management (PDM) and product lifecycle management (PLM) are tools becoming increasingly adopted in the manufacturing world as means of more closely tying together various aspects of a production business. Rather than have disparate files, such as CAD and bill of materials, coming from disparate company departments, all of this data can be linked together, giving intended users access to all of the necessary information without having to manually contact each department to get specific data or files.

The Assembly Planner solution is used by manufacturing companies in a variety of industries, from automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and military to construction, medical device, electrical equipment, and academic. These manufacturers are often called on to fabricate complicated assemblies which are, according to a Tech Soft 3D press release, “often highly configured into customer orders.”

Users can work with Assembly Planner’s database to write and manage, in a secure location, their own manufacturing bill of materials (mBOM) and Bill of Process (BOP) routings. Then these companies can use the data to complete all sorts of helpful business tasks, such as auto-generating work instructions, balancing assembly lines, manage internal logistics, and complete time studies.

All of that is more complicated than it sounds. But by working with Tech Soft 3D and using its many SDKs, Proplanner can easily integrate 3D models into its Assembly Planner, and extract the underlying data. The company is using the HOOPS Platform to link process models and CAD models so that all of the data relates correctly.

“Linking the process model to the 3D model was the goal. We get a 3D model from one source, we get an eBOM from another source, which is the basis of our mBOM and we generate a BOP routing which consumes parts from that mBOM while visually manipulating the 3D model,” Proplanner’s President David Sly said. “Those three elements of the triangle (mBOM, BOP routing and 3D model) have to relate – and getting them to relate is really, really difficult when all three may be authored concurrently and independently for many variants, which is why most attempts in the past haven’t been successful.”

The HOOPS Platform has a lot to offer, like its HOOPS Communicator, a powerful but simple toolkit for creating advanced 3D web visualizations. HOOPS Exchange is meant to be a fast and accurate CAD data translation toolkit. It converts the source CAD file into an HSF or PRC format, and extracts detailed metadata, through a single interface, making it a simple workflow that negates the use of integration with PDM or PLM systems. HOOPS Publish enables applications to publish 3D data in multiple formats, including HTML, CAD, and native 3D PDF, and HOOPS Visualize is a graphics engine that can help teams create high performance applications.

Specifically, Proplanner is using HOOPS Communicator for the web version of its product, thanks to Tech Soft 3D’s HSF fast streaming format, while HOOPS Visualize is being applied for the Windows version. This collaboration has enabled the company to provide its customers with an easy-to-use workflow for bringing in 3D CAD models, without having to involve other systems. Working with the HOOPS Platform also means that Assembly Planner users can extract data from CAD models, easily visualize complex assemblies, and be the first to market with a way to solve a long-standing data management issue.

“3D is critical. 3D is what allows us to visually validate the process and generate shop floor instructions, but the knowledge that HOOPS Exchange is helping us extract from the CAD model is just as crucial. It helps us map the 3D model to the process, to convert the engineering change orders (ECOs) and engineering bill of materials (eBOMs) into manufacturing bill of materials (mBOMs), and associated process routings,” explained Sly.

“Some customers have tried to get this information to match up for decades and failed. The problem was that there was no way to easily reconcile the variances between a CAD model that might have thousands of parts with the other documents and data sources. Thanks to Tech Soft 3D, we’re at a point technologically now where customers can extract the data from many different CAD formats, and reconcile it against eBOMs and mBOMs and other data sources. The underlying technology from Tech Soft 3D is enabling all this information to finally come together.”

HOOPS Exchange allows development teams to easily build robust CAD data translation capabilities into their application, while HOOPS Visualize and HOOPS Communicator allow those 3D models to be visualized, on desktop and the web.

The use of PLM and PDM are increasingly considered necessary tools for the further digitization of manufacturing and realization of Industry 4.0. With 3D printing and other digital fabrication techniques thought of as the means for realizing 3D designs, PLM and PDM are now thought of as the software solutions for ensuring a continuous thread throughout the design-to-production process. For this reason, tools like Proplanner will gain greater importance in the world of 3D printing, just as 3D printing will gain greater importance in manufacturing overall.

(Images courtesy of Tech Soft 3D unless otherwise stated)

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