Comexi partnered with the consultants from PTC University Authorized Training Partner Integral PLM Experts, who analyzed the PTC Creo knowledge of the users at Comexi and succeeded in substantially increasing their computer-aided design (CAD) efficiency through a targeted training initiative. Comexi is a local, family-owned company, but has an international outlook and produces a wide range of machines and solutions for printing, laminating, coating, slitting and rewinding of different packaging materials. The company manufactures 150 machines per year and is one of the world leaders in the flexible packaging converting sector. Its machines are used in the food industry and in other sectors where large quantities of products are packaged which is important to make the investment in the machinery profitable for the customer.
Although the engineers at Comexi try to modularize and standardize the machine components, they have to adapt each one of them to the specific needs of thecustomer. Therefore, “Time to Market” represents a great challenge for the company and one of its main competitive advantages. “When the customers decide to buy, they want their machine as soon as possible” says David Ciurana, ICT Manager at Comexi. “Our aim is to be faster and more flexible than our competitors.”
To achieve this objective, Comexi decided to reorganize and streamline its engineering processes through the implementation of a product data management and product lifecycle management system (PDM/PLM) at its headquarters in Riudellots de la Selva, near Girona. The company has been using PTC’s CAD software for more than twenty years and recently changed its Pro/ ENGINEER installation for the latest version of PTC Creo. When Comexi began evaluating PLM systems, it became clear that the reengineering of processes was going to have a considerable effect on the project, starting with the engineering processes. It was decided that this phase of the project would be entrusted to Integral PLM Experts, a Platinum Partner for PTC solutions dedicated to software, consultancy services and training.
Integral PLM Experts proposed to start with a thorough assessment using the PTC University Proficiency eLearning Library with the objective of establishing a starting point for a targeted efficiency initiative around their use of CAD. PTC University Proficiency is made up of an extensive library of questions and predefined exercises that can be adapted according to the customer’s needs. It can be deployed to evaluate users’ knowledge and then, based on the findings, develop an individualized training program. The efficiency of this program would subsequently be measured using the same evaluation tool.
The experts from Integral interviewed the people in charge of the technical office and the most experienced users (key users) so as to identify the most vital functions to Comexi and its engineers.
In addition, they analyzed one of the latest machines that the users had generated with the purpose of detecting possible deficiencies regarding parametric technology and the application of internal regulations. These deficiencies were assessed in a series of workshops with the individuals responsible for the different parts of the machine. As a result, a range of solutions were proposed as best practices, according to Jordi García, the project lead for Integral. “These proposals were used as the basis for defining the basic and advanced knowledge that the different user groups ought to possess and for selecting the questions and examples to assess the users’ current knowledge.
Regardless of the CAD system version, the questions were not restricted to assessing the knowledge of specific functions and also covered methodological aspects and data management. Different questions were drawn up according to the user group in question combined with practical exercises, offering the users the opportunity to improve their marks. In addition, Comexi utilized the assessment phase to check to what extent the users were aware of what the company had defined as being the most appropriate methodology. “The users were asked to answer only the questions that they really knew the answers to,” comments Jordi García. “The users knew that the assessment was not going to have any detrimental effects but quite the opposite; the knowledge assessment represented a starting point from which to initiate a continuous improvement process and make it possible to personalize their training.”.
Differing knowledge levels
The technical office at Comexi currently has 32 CAD users grouped into three categories:
- Engineers that define the main structure of the machines
- Engineers that generate the different components in 3D
- Draftsmen that go into more detail on the pieces and produce the manufacturing sheets
Some of them have been working with PTC’s CAD system for many years, others have relatively little experience due to being a new hire or because they originate from a subsidiary company recently merged with Comexi and were using a different CAD system. “During the assessment phase, we realized that our users had neither the same knowledge level nor the same way of working with the tool,” states Ciruana. The heterogeneous way of creating and connecting components and complete units made both the collective work of the users and the reusing of existing parametric models more difficult.
Apart from the different ways of working with the CAD system, the first round of the assessment with PTC University Proficiency demonstrated lower than expected knowledge levels, not only in specific subjects such as sheet metal or mechanism design but also in basic functions. It also revealed that improving efficiency in the technical office was not a question of changing software tools but rather using them in a more efficient way. ”It was more a question of processes and human resources,” states Ciurana. In fact, Comexi decided to implement PTC Windchill as their PLM system and update the CAD installation during the evaluation process to avoid the complication of having to migrate a large quantity of CAD data to another platform.
Consultants from Integral PLM Experts developed a training program for the different user groups and levels based on the Proficiency evaluation results, combining methodological content with the new PTC Creo software specific courses. Special emphasis was put on continual training for the key users who offer primary support to their less experienced colleagues. “We also educate users in the application of the appropriate methodology already established by the company”, explains Garcia.
Common knowledge level
The main objective of the training program was to unify knowledge and establish a common level for the different user groups”, adds García. Using a second PTC University Proficiency assessment based on the same syllabus but with different questions proved that this objective had been successfully achieved. The improvement in the answers was“enormous”, according Ciurana. In fact, users demonstrated a 20% improvement after having completed the first assessment.
The individuals in charge of training at Comexi are aware of the need to provide continuity to the training program in order to maintain and even improve already attained knowledge levels. Currently, both best practices
manuals and other training contents have been made accessible for all users. A standardization committee, made up of the technical director and the more advanced users, has been created to analyze company processes once a month in order to promote continual improvements. This committee widens the knowledge base, incorporates new solutions into the best practices manuals and creates templates to promote the use of a common methodology. David Ciurana concludes by saying “In addition, we are contemplating the possibility of carrying out continual check-ups with PTC University Proficiency and also using the tool in the recruitment of technical personnel.”