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New 3D Capabilities

Proplanner Introduces New 3D Capabilities

Proplanner’s new 3D capabilities will soon be available within AP 2021 for all customers on the Assembly Planner Enterprise subscription at no extra charge.  This powerful new set of features will greatly expand the value of our solution by increasing the speed and quality of launching accurate work instructions and line balance scenarios to the shop floor while eliminating the cost of independent CAD viewers within manufacturing.  Most importantly, this release leverages our customer’s 3D models and tightly integrates the Product with the Process to simplify the tasks of consuming components by the process, reconciling the manufactured Bill of Materials (mBOM) with the Bill of Process (BOP) routing, authoring work instruction images and greatly reducing the time to update previously authored work instructions as a result of a line rebalance or engineering change.

With AP 2021, Users can visualize CAD data in three different view modes; CAD Model, Process, and ShopFloor.  The first two view modes, highlighted in this Blog, also come with an advanced image authoring environment to enhance the editing of captured images and the merge of additional media such as JPG and PNG files.  The third view mode, to be discussed in our MES Blog, is available for viewing CAD Models in Proplanner’s Shop Floor MES environment which is accessible via several popular web browsers (client-server or cloud).

With the CAD Model view, engineers can simply view the CAD Model to visualize, query, measure, and snapshot any components or assemblies.  Engineers can click on a part number within Assembly Planner’s mBOM or enter a part number and have that component(s) be selected or highlighted in a different color within the CAD Model.  This interaction between Assembly Planner and the CAD Model makes manufacturing visualization much quicker, easier, and accurate than traditional independent viewers offer.

CAD Model mode for viewing Components and Assemblies with their Meta-Data

Figure 1. CAD Model mode for viewing Components and Assemblies with their Meta-Data

The Process View is enabled within a new Workspace Feature which allows the engineer to link a BOP Routing and mBOM to the CAD Model.  This workspace enables the engineer to view the Process’s consumption of the mBOM concurrently with the CAD Model as well as reconcile, author, and edit this consumption mapping of components to the BOP Routing.  Reference Designators can even be defined to call out specific Bolts or Items to a specific Process step that consumes them.  Using the powerful new Workspace Feature, engineers can now visually associate the Process to the Product to create more accurate process work instructions and assembly sequences during the initial launch to the shop floor.

Instance mapping feature allows each bolt to be directly  reference to a specific Activity or Workstep.

Figure 2. Instance mapping feature allows each bolt to be directly referenced to a specific Activity or Workstep.

CAD Models can include components from multiple variants and the engineer can select a specific variant to view and document within the Workspace.  The Workspace can also concurrently import multiple CAD models in order to create a combined assembly that might have originally been created from different CAD systems.  Finally, these shattered CAD Model imports allow the engineer to concurrently load geometry from multiple product Versions concurrently, visualize changed components corresponding to an Engineering Change Order (ECO), and even perform partial updates of selected components within large 3D CAD assemblies.

An additional powerful capability of the Workspace is an Item ID Mapping module that allows the engineer to quickly, and easily link Items between the mBOM and CAD Model to resolve common discrepancies with part naming conventions between Engineering, Manufacturing, and Operations.  Collectively, these tools make Proplanner’s new 3D capabilities the most powerful toolset ever designed for engineering and documenting the BOP of complex assemblies often associated with vehicles and machines.

Workspace mode for mBOM+BOP consumption and Instruction Image Creation

Figure 3. Workspace mode for mBOM+BOP consumption and Instruction Image Creation

In the Workspace, engineers can navigate the Process according to the assembly sequence by simply selecting stations (operations) or Activities (tasks) in the Process tree on the left.  Since all of the components are consumed by the Activities within Assembly Planner’s database, the viewer knows to only display those components assembled so far in the process, and thus all other components in the CAD Model are filtered out.  Users can then decide to automatically color-code those active components consumed in the selected Activity and gray out everything else, or to simply highlight active components while showing the consumed components in their default color.  Engineers can rebalance the Process in Proplanner’s powerful Line Balancing module and apply a balanced scenario to the database for immediate visualization, verification, and documentation of the task-to-station assignment in the  Workspace.

Highlight mode quickly shows the component(s) referenced by the Activity.

Highlight mode quickly shows the component(s) referenced by the Activity.

Figure 4. Highlight mode quickly shows the component(s) referenced by the Activity.

The Process Viewer also allows the engineer to selectively Explode components in the view as well as change the color or visibility of any component within the CAD Model.  Engineers can annotate this model with measurements and even insert simple CAD-based component (item) call-outs which can reference attribute data embedded in the model.  The tree view on the left provides both Process and CAD Model views and meta-data embedded in the CAD Model can be queried from this tree. 

Components can be manually exploded with their positions retained in Named Views.

Figure 5. Components can be manually exploded with their positions retained in Named Views.

Most importantly, these views of the CAD Model, complete with explosions, annotations, visibility, zoom, and orientation can be saved as “Named Views” and recalled when changes to the CAD Model require updates of work instructions documents.  As such, Proplanner’s Named Views are not stored within the CAD Model but instead are stored within the Workspace such that the CAD Model can be updated in the future while preserving Named Views and Reference Designators as your product assembly versions evolve.

CAD Model view number one

CAD Model View number two

CAD Model View Number three

CAD Model View Number Four

Figure 6. CAD Models can be viewed in four different modes.

CAD Models can be shown in one of four possible modes (Shaded, Shaded-with-Lines, Hidden or Wireframe).  In addition, engineers can section the 3D Model to better show features that would be difficult to see otherwise.

Sectioned view of the CAD Model

Figure 7. Sectioned view of the CAD Model

Both the CAD Model and Process views provide an extensible Work Instruction Image editor.  This editor associates the various CAD Model snapshot views to the process Activities active when those views were created.  This association makes for quick and accurate linking of work instruction images, and their associated Named Views within the process tasks they represent in order to save substantial time and effort when future edits are required.

Proplanner’s Image Editor, can import and combine image content from a variety of formats and allow for a nearly infinite ability to alter and annotate combined images into meaningful instructions for the shop floor.  Since all annotations and callouts are saved on their own overlay, these authored instructions always retain their individual entities such that future updates are quick and easy to perform.  Companies can even create their own library of call-out symbols to be used with image editing in order to assist with their corporate Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) documentation guidelines.

Image Editor showing the ability to combine and annotate multiple Images

Figure 8. Image Editor showing the ability to combine and annotate multiple Images

The Image Editor can save multiple Snapshots which can be later referenced into SOP Images which can contain annotation and the aggregation of multiple images. 

Annotation symbols and graphics applied to the snapshot in the image editor.

Figure 9. Annotation symbols and graphics applied to the snapshot in the image editor.

Process Activities have their own libraries of Snapshots and SOP Images.

Figure 10. Process Activities have their own libraries of Snapshots and SOP Images.

Companies can create and manage their own standard Callout symbols.

Figure 11. Companies can create and manage their own standard Callout symbols.

Proplanner’s new 3D technology is based on the powerful family of visualization technology from Techsoft 3D.  This new 3D visualization capability utilizes the powerful family of 3D viewers to support the leading 3D visualization file formats such as JT, CREO, and 3DS.  This viewing technology can load large CAD models with near-instant visualization response.  Most importantly, Proplanner supports the full range of Techsoft3D viewers which means that users can select from locally hosted and graphics-card driven visualization or cloud-based server visualization technologies. 


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