While engineers have made simulation of structural properties or fluid dynamics an integral part of their workflows, they haven’t applied the same rigor to analyzing the cost aspect of product designs—a scenario aPriori hopes to change with the latest release of its flagship product cost management software.
aPriori 2014r1 is stocked with a variety of new enterprise capabilities mixed with ease-of-use enhancements designed to make the ability to predict product costs more accessible to engineers. The upgrade expands the types of components and parts that can be costed in the software and delivers capabilities that allow costing capabilities to be leveraged across a wider swath of users in the enterprise as well as among external partners.
Julie Driscoll, aPriori’s vice president of strategic marketing and product management, positioned the new release as an essential tool for manufacturers looking for cost reduction opportunities as a way to stay competitive in increasingly complex global markets. Faced with fluctuations in commodity pricing and availability, escalating costs and quality concerns related to outsourcing, and garden variety sourcing decisions that can make or break a product’s profitability, manufacturers can no longer rely on traditional methods of cost analysis—i.e., manual spreadsheets or foregoing a cost analysis—if they want to remain competitive.
For example, Driscoll cited manufacturers’ need to tailor product variants for local markets and the changing fuel economy standards in the automotive industry as examples of design challenges that up the ante for companies to have a clearer picture of cost.
“There is a need to understand the cost/value tradeoff as you try to optimize an offering for different markets or for understanding that balance of achieving fuel efficiency by lightening the car and producing something people want to buy,” Driscoll explains. “As companies move forward, there are tradeoffs where they should manufacture or source from, or what materials they should use. What we are trying to do is bring cost awareness back into the design process.”
Much like FEA simulation helps designers optimize a design for structural integrity, aPriori does the same as it relates to economics.
“There are always tradeoff decisions and we are constantly telling engineers if they are under or over target costs,” notes Rick Burke, aPriori’s vice president of marketing. “Just like engineers use FEA to test designs ahead of time for viability in the field, we’re doing the same thing here only it’s about economic viability and can you sell this product for a profit.”
The aPriori 2014r1 update now supports 16 new, out-of-the-box manufacturing process cost models, expanding the types of components and finishing operations that users can cost across sheet metal fabrication, gear making, and machining. For example, the release includes models for hobbing, broaching, spline rolling, and other gear making operations.
The release also makes it easy to examine multiple cost scenarios for product assemblies, speeding engineers’ ability to address tradeoffs in design. A new Cost Guide feature, similar to a Wizard, steps users through how to generate complete and accurate costs via user-guided inputs and prompts. In addition, a new 2-Model Machining feature lets users employ CAD models of nearly formed parts and finished parts to calculate the true cost of machined castings and forgings—an addition that simplifies the costing process and provides more precise cycle time and cost benefits, according to the company.
Check out this video demonstration of how 2-Model Machining in aPriori works.