Blazing a Better Pathway for Business How Cabot Corporation Uses Adept Engineering Document Management to Design, Develop and Deliver New TechnologyCase Study
Cabot Corporation is a chemical company whose main product line is carbon black. Carbon black is used mainly in tires, paints, printer ink and plastics. Cabot’s main customers are tire manufacturers, paint companies and ink jet printer enterprises such as Hewlett Packard.
The production of carbon black requires furnaces that are made with high-grade stainless steel that see temperatures well over 3,000 degrees. All the furnaces are designed and built in Cabot’s Research & development facility in Billerica, MA. They are then shipped to 26 other worldwide Cabot plants and to project sites throughout Asia and Europe.
The Business Challenge: Get the burners designed, developed and delivered ASAP!
Phil Doiran, the Design Services Coordinator of Research & Development, describes the burner design process at Cabot.
“A new design is developed and the design concept is put it into a model using Autodesk Inventor,” explains Doiran. “Once the concept is done, it’s run through some different phases of computerized fluid dynamics (CFD) testing. After the design passes testing, it moves to detailing.”
When the detail is all set, the drawings are finalized, and then Doiran’s group starts buying the components and putting it together. According to Doiran, it takes about 15 months to complete a single burner project, which has 100-120 parts each.
The Problem: Paper copies cause big problems
Before they had a document management system in place, everything was stored on paper. “We used to take an Autodesk CAD drawing, print it out and store it on paper,” explains Doiran. “And if we had to send it out to vendors, we had to make a copy of it. So we had to have a printer that made copies of different A size, B size, F size, and H size drawings. We had a big printer that made copies of drawings—one for the vendors and one for the guys putting the product together on the floor. With an average of 120 parts, we had over 3,000 drawings per furnace.”
And, of course, with paper copies there were challenges.
“We made products using the wrong drawing revision that were unusable and we’d have to scrap,” explains Doiran. “We had products that we had to send back to have re-machined. There were delays in production and parts would be assembled incorrectly.”
The Solution: Find an engineering document management systems (EDMS) that had a central repository and an easy way to find the latest revision of a drawing.
Cabot considered two EDMS systems for the group. “We selected Adept,” remarks Doiran, “because we didn’t think that the other system had the traceability or the functionality we needed. For us, Adept was a no brainer as far as how we managed drawings, revisions, and how we manage access to the system.”
With Adept, Doiran now knows his staff has the “right document and the right rev to the right product.” He can prepare a PDF and send it directly to the vendor so that they have the exact copy of what they’re trying to make, which makes “life so much easier.”
“Whether it’s sending documents to vendors or routing documents internally, when they use Adept, they know what they’re actually looking at if they are troubleshooting,” says Doiran. “They can see exactly what that product does and where it is.”
But the speed-to-production benefits don’t end there. . .
Thanks to Adept’s browser-based web client, remote users can log into the system, and make any necessary change. “We have a couple of guys that work from home,” states Doiran. “So, they can go right into Adept from home via VPN and manage their documents and put them back in the vault when they’re done. If there are technical issues that I need to resolve through vendors, I can just call the designer and say, ‘Hey can you take that document and revise it and send it back to me?’ They’ll put it back in the vault and I can go in and grab it and PDF it to the vendor.”
“It’s all about getting things done faster,” emphasizes Doiran. “How we get products from design to deployment as efficiently as possible.”
Getting projects downstream faster.
One of the biggest benefits of Adept is the ability for Doiran’s purchasing group to start the ordering process even before the engineers have completely finished the design drawings.
“During the design process, engineers had a habit of stashing their design documents in their local Adept work area,” says Doiran. “Now we ask them to check them back into Adept so everybody has access to the documents. That way, I can go into Adept, grab the latest revision and start the process of buying parts ahead of time, instead of waiting for the whole project to get done. It’s a big time saver. We’re able to get R & D projects faster into the manufacturing stream.”
Driving out errors. Speeding product delivery.
Doiran is looking forward to a time in the near future when Cabot can take Adept and “blow it out to the rest of the company”.
“We’ve got 400 people just at this site,” states Doiran. “There are so many documents out there and at this stage, we’re not sure whose maintaining them. To put them all in Adept would be ideal, I think, from a company standpoint.”
Ultimately, using Adept’s transmittal capability will be key to fine tuning Cabot’s processes. With electronic transmittals, Doiran’s group will have the ability to give their vendors web access to view the latest version of any document, which will be “huge”. Also, Doiran plans to revise the purchase order request process, so that Adept is linked with the company’s J. D. Edwards system. The integration between the systems will ensure that the latest drawing revision accompanies every purchase request.
Concludes Doiran, “There are a lot of things we want to look at. We think Adept is very powerful and we need to devote the time to creating a road map for the next steps. With Adept and Inventor and between modeling and CFE, I think we’re able to turn everything around much quicker because we have everything centralized and organized. Adept provides a much better pathway for business. Timing to the marketplace is huge for us.”