[Case Study] Reverse Engineering to Cut Cycle Time and Cost

Raghuraman Ramamurthy November 10, 2016

Reverse_Engineering_and_ControlsWithin product engineering and manufacturing, consistency is the key to sustainability. This is especially true to manufacturers working with international operations and factories. One of the ways to achieve product consistency is equipments across plant locations need to be standardized.

When a manufacturer is caught with a legacy system with machinery diagrams or manuals, reverse engineering is often the only way to replicate the machinery in other facilities.

In this case study, B-WI worked closely with a manufacturing leader to reverse engineer critical simulation rigs, and build identical systems for the company’s overseas operations.

Challenges Faced

The company in this study is a major Australian manufacturer in the power transmission and chain manufacturing industry. With operations in 17 countries and distribution in over 70, the company sought to boost replication efficiency and reliability through the following practices:

  • Document and design drawing standardization
  • Uniform controls upgrading across the entire engineering process
  • Reverse engineering to simplify these upgrades

However, the company encountered a number of challenges in pursuing these goals, which pressed them to contact B-WI for professional guidance. A pilot project was kicked off for the standardization exercise with their forklift truck (FLT) chain wear simulation rig. 

For starters, the company could not stop the existing test rig for measurements; this rig also featured far outdated controls and hydraulics configurations. The machine was not supported with any manuals or circuitry diagrams, and its analog monitoring systems were frequently suspect to calibration error.

To overcome these challenges, the company reached out to B-WI to create a 3D model of the rig, upgrade its controls systems digitally and install the new, more replicable rig.

How B-WI Tackled the Company’s Problems

In creating an effective approach to the company’s reverse engineering dilemma, B-WI gave particular care to rig function, precise controls and design standardization to simplify troubleshooting. B-WI dispatched a team of engineers to evaluate the company’s rig and make measurements without stopping the machine, in accordance with the company’s needs. 

These measurements fueled 3D remodeling efforts, during which B-WI introduced an intuitive SCADA control panel and hydraulics design. Following remodeling, B-WI divided the design phase into four solution groups, each tailored around the company’s challenges:

  • Hydraulics design; proportional control valves which enable precise testing and easy integration with control upgrades
  • Mechanical design; rig functionality maintained through load calculations and Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Electrical panel design; paneling design to allow quicker testing time and de-skill conventional constraints on operation
  • SCADA design; enhanced monitoring system to improve control over motor currents, oil temperatures and levels, pressure and voltages.

Solution Results

By taking the above approach, B-WI was able to effectively reverse engineer the company’s simulation rig and develop high efficiency replicants at low long-term cost. In the end, B-WI helped the company save 35% of manufacturing costs compared to others in the industry, and reduce overall cycle time by roughly 20%. Additionally, machine stoppages were reduced by a strategic 40%. 

New solutions developed by the engineering team proved to be far more versatile than the original systems (configurable with 20 varieties of chains and sizes), and could be installed and commissioned to fit the local environment.

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Topics Product Development Solutions Time to Market Product Cost Optimization