Products & Services Involved
Meggitt is a global engineering group specialising in extreme environment products and sub-systems for the defence, aerospace and energy markets.
Meggitt has dominated the aerospace industry for almost half a century, so it’s fair to say that today, there’s scarcely an aeroplane in service that doesn’t carry Meggitt’s critical components and smart systems. The company has 11,000 employees across its manufacturing facilities in Asia, Europe and North America.
Meggitt’s civil aerospace presence covers large commercial transports, regional aircrafts, helicopters and general aviation, while its defence market includes military aircrafts, land systems and naval platforms. The company’s growing presence in the energy sector is driven by core fluid controls, heat management, smart sensing and monitoring capabilities for industrial gas and steam turbines.
Meggitt has very strict design, test and compliance requirements. When these spread across a large team based in different locations, document control can become a bit of a nightmare. Add more than forty years’ worth of historical data and drawings to the mix and the situation becomes even more delicate.
For these reasons and more, the move to one software platform across divisions and a better document control system has been a priority for Meggitt in recent years. To find and implement the right software for the job, UK and Swiss divisions of Meggitt came to product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Design Rule for advice.
“Our two main objectives were to improve document control and get our teams based in different locations to collaborate more effectively using a shared platform,” explained Andy Lodge, design engineering manager at Meggitt UK. “The move to a new software platform was also an opportunity to review and improve our existing document archive.”
Alongside its French and Swiss partner Visiativ, which led the international implementation, Design Rule coordinated the project in the UK and made recommendations of how PLM software could help Meggitt achieve its objectives.
As a value-added reseller of Dassault Systèmes, Design Rule used its aerospace industry expertise to implement the ENOVIA software platform in the Meggitt UK offices. With the largest ENOVIA skill base in the UK, Design Rule coordinated the transition to the new system. Design Rule worked closely with its Swiss partner to make sure the multisite implementation was successful.
“Because the Meggitt history is so long and fruitful, we have over a million of drawings and documents, some of which go back the first half of the last century,” continued Lodge. “Most of our documents have digital copies, but the existing system wasn’t flexible or accessible enough. Most of our electronic storage was organised in a folder structure similar to the Windows model and shared on the network. The main problem was that the search function was unreliable, so if you needed an archived document, you would either have to ask someone where to find it or spend a lot of time looking for it.”
Improving electronic storage
“ENOVIA went live in September and one of the benefits we saw straight away was an improvement in efficiency when it came to locating files and performing admin tasks. Just to get an idea of how complex our document archive was, we used to have over a million documents spread across 15,000 folders. Some of them were duplicates or had become obsolete.
“Last year, we identified about 100,000 working files that needed to be managed and installed on the new system. We have already added 80,000 of them to ENOVIA, which now allows us to find relevant files in just seconds. Needless to say, this has saved our team a significant amount of time already.”
Refining document management
Better document control was the original reason Meggitt decided to implement a PLM system. ENOVIA not only allowed Meggitt to identify documents more easily, but also streamlined the procedure of getting documents signed off through electronic capabilities.
Meggitt runs hundreds of concurrent products and projects across an international team of experts. Design Rule helped the aerospace and defence giant simplify its processes, from product development to quality, compliance, export control and intellectual property (IP) protection. The ENOVIA software suite delivered an element of ‘invisible governance’, which allows Meggitt to drive project updates and spot potential issues or risks before they manifest.
ENOVIA made product planning and document management easier by connecting two parts of the business: the document authors - such as engineers, CAD designers and product designers - and the consumers of information from the purchasing, quality and export control teams. Different Meggitt employees will need to access certain documents for various reasons. For example, the document procedures for qualifying products that are fit for flight can be many hundreds of pages long and need to go through different levels of approval, not to mention they need to be accessible in real time. By using ENOVIA, Meggitt has simplified the approval process, making the digital trail of a document much clearer and improved the accessibility of relevant team members.
The Export Control and IP Security module enables Meggitt to classify data with defined security rules (based on organisation, citizenship, physical location or a combination) with exceptions in an evaluated expression. This classification enables the enforcement filter to protect data from unauthorised disclosure within the ENOVIA platform.
Reconciling multiple sites
“Perhaps the most ground-breaking aspect of the project consisted in the multiple site implementations,” explained Bob Hillier, managing director of Design Rule. “This is where the partnership with Visiativ really made a difference because it allowed us to take advantage of ENOVIA’s flexibility to adapt the software to each division’s culture, structure and way of doing things.
“One of the trickiest things about introducing new software is getting the team on board and helping everyone involved see the benefits of the new system. Unless all the users are on the same page, there’s a good chance the implementation will fall flat and the results will not reflect expectations. By allowing the UK and Swiss teams to adapt the software to their existing needs, processes and procedures, the transition was smooth and the users were more likely to engage with and make the most of the new system.”
“Although we are part of the same company, the two divisions have different company cultures and backgrounds,” explained Lodge. “One of the biggest challenges was harmonising the requirements between the two sites. Design Rule, Visiativ and our IT departments worked closely for several months to align the project from a hardware and software point of view. The flexibility and support Meggitt received throughout the implementation of the project was where the added value really came from and we were very pleased with how our teams worked together across borders, company cultures and requirements.”
Where PLM meets CAD
The improvements Meggitt has seen from the implementation of ENOVIA have convinced the company of the benefits of PLM. In the near future, Meggitt is hoping to get more departments and divisions to use the ENOVIA software, turning it into one of the main communication and management tools of the company. Meggitt is planning to move beyond document management and employ PLM for project management and bill of materials management, while also integrating a collaborative CAD software platform into the system.
The Meggitt implementation of PLM software is exciting not just because of the time, cost and efficiency savings the company has already started to see. Implementing PLM software is about more than the advantages of doing things better; it’s about being in control, anticipating organisation and market challenges and responding to them in the best way possible. Just like on-board controls make an aeroplane modern, PLM software makes companies smarter and more agile.