Aiming high: Siemens PLM Software supports ITP’s growth strategy

Lindsay James finds out how aircraft and industrial engine manufacturer ITP is relying on Siemens PLM Software solutions to meet its goal of doubling sales to reach a turnover of €1 billion by 2015

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 02 October 2014
Aiming high: Siemens PLM Software supports ITP’s growth strategy

This article was first published in the Autumn 2014 issue of Prime

Industria de Turbo Propulsores (ITP) has an enviable reputation in the aeronautical and industrial engine market, having become renowned for its distinctly innovative approach. Considered one of the most cutting-edge companies in Spain, it uses the most productive tools and state-of-the-art technology to anticipate trends and to deliver high-quality and environmentally-friendly products and services to some of the biggest players in the industry. 

Founded in 1989, and owned by Spanish engineering group SENER and Rolls-Royce, the company employs 3,000 workers distributed over 18 operational centres located in Spain, the United Kingdom, Malta, the US, Mexico, India and China. From these locations, the company not only develops gas turbine components and modules in international programmes for military and civil engineering, but also offers its own in-service support, including maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and high value-added services. ITP is also a partner in important civil aircraft programs and with the European Defense Consortium (EUROJET, EUROPROP, MTRI) with referenced partners such as Rolls-Royce, GE, P&W, Snecma and Honeywell.

“Our ambition is to become a first-rate engine manufacturer – a highly diversified, technological company providing services throughout the whole lifecycle of manufacturing and maintenance of products,” says Ignacio Mataix, ITP’s CEO.

Always with an eye on the future, ITP has ambitious plans, with the goal of doubling sales to reach a turnover of one billion euros by 2015. To meet this challenge, ITP is planning to make a significant investment over a five-year period, focusing on manufacturing new models. In this sense, its commitment to embracing new technologies is vital.

“We are investing around 14% of our sales in research and development, which makes us, in relative terms, the Spanish industrial company with the highest level of investment in this specific area,” says Mataix. “ITP is a technological company with more than a thousand engineers who work with the most advanced tools. Innovation is based on new technologies in our centres that are distributed throughout the world.”

According to Mataix, there are four information technology pillars that underpin the company’s growth and expansion: enterprise resource planning (ERP); product lifecycle management (PLM); design tools; and general tools such as Microsoft software.

One of the major competitive advantages of ITP is the integration of design and manufacturing. This is a management model that was instituted in 2007 with the creation of ITP’s Excellence Centers, in which engineers and manufacturing operators work together. “We have agreements to develop comprehensive turbine modules from the aerodynamic design of each one of its components through manufacture,” says Mataix. “For this reason, the role of PLM software is considered key. All of the information can be traced using PLM software, which allows us to track and monitor it through the company so we can achieve our goal, which is to produce the most competitive, efficient design at the lowest possible cost.”

Iñaki Ulizar, manager of technology at ITP, agrees with this assessment: “The PLM system is vital for ITP because we have a very complex technological product and PLM is able to keep all the information up-to-date,” he explains. “A key aspect for us is the traceability and integrity of the data, because our products must be available for decades. In 15 or 20 years, someone might need this data, so we need a PLM system to ensure that we can deliver it. An ERP system doesn’t do this.”

For years, ITP was using two different PLM systems: Windchill software from PTC for engineering, and Teamcenter software from Siemens PLM Software for manufacturing. However, in 2010, with the aim of further developing its successful policy of integration between the two areas, ITP decided to use a single corporate PLM software to manage its organisational information globally, covering the entire product’s lifecycle.

ITP determined that the PLM system needed to be an end-to-end solution, covering all the phases of the product lifecycle and integrating other software, such as computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE) and manufacturing execution system (MES), so it could maintain traceability between the engineering and production structures. It was also important that the solution had a user-friendly interface, which was essential to achieve higher productivity.

“We want our PLM system to become the backbone of our processes for design, development, manufacturing and service,” says Ulizar. “The PLM system is our safeguard to recover all data. We need to improve our time-to-market process, which is a critical parameter. We would also like to increase our productivity in both design and production, and to ensure that all lean initiatives are implemented, and that we are able to standardise processes throughout the world.

“Another aspect is the geographical diversity: we needed a tool that would allow us to exchange data and flow charts in the design phases between Spain, Mexico and the United Kingdom so as to ensure there are no mistakes.”

After a thorough market study, and based on the positive experience with Teamcenter and its good performance in the manufacturing area, ITP chose the Siemens PLM Software solution. “We selected Teamcenter as the tool best suited to our needs,” says Bittor Olabarria, operations manager for the PLM implementation. “Teamcenter allows us to have unique and visible information across all the areas of the project.”

Teamcenter proved to be easy to use as more than 300 employees were trained to use it in only one month. What’s more, its multi-site capacity has been invaluable, as Ulizar explains: ”Teamcenter is able to work internationally and rapidly move data from one country to another without delay and with the information in one piece.”

Although the ITP centers were already working with solutions from Siemens PLM Software, choosing Teamcenter as the unique PLM system and the scale of this project – covering all ITP centers worldwide – reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the two companies. “Partnerships with high added-value providers are for life,” says Mataix. “This is an industry that is concerned with safety. The partnership is an important and long-term relationship in which the two companies invest to achieve greater business profitability.”

ITP established a number of objectives for the implementation of Teamcenter. “We wanted it to be a focal point of the entire product lifecycle and process, combining conceptual design, manufacturing and even service support,” says Gontzal Ruiz, head of engineering and projects at the Excellence Center of Frameworks and Structures. “Our goal was to have a comprehensive global response capability, which meant having specific systems in place at our international centers. And thirdly, to have standardised systems and best practices, corresponding to a single culture: the ITP culture.”

The aircraft and industrial engineering industries make technologically demanding products with significant security requirements. Therefore, the traceability of information is essential. Ulizar explains: “Our products must comply with international regulations and meet the requirements of global customers. PLM is crucial because it is able to make design, manufacturing, and assembly data flow until it reaches the final customer for decades. PLM also guarantees the security of information in relation to its availability to different users from different places.”

Traceability is also closely related to levels of product quality. “Quality processes are very demanding, so traceability must be ensured, and the best way to achieve this is through PLM,” notes José Luis Basabe, head of the PLM project.

In the same vein, Gontzal Ruiz points out, “PLM is very important to ensure that all the processes are aligned with customer requirements and the product is meeting specifications.”

One of the highlights of the Teamcenter implementation at ITP was its integration with the tools involved in PLM. “The integration of all systems of information technology is key to ITP to offer global solutions in design and manufacture for turbine components and modules,” says Olabarria. “Getting a product to the market as quickly as possible gives us a significant competitive advantage.”

Alfredo Ruiz, head of the department of Engineering and Projects of the Center of Excellence of Turbine Bearing Housing and Airfoils, says: “At ITP we are now able to introduce the industrial foundations in the design, such as designing the parts with their subsequent manufacture in mind. So we consider the inventory we will have, how long it will stay in our facilities and what will be the flow of the parts in our factory. The development phase is essential since almost two years have passed from the first sketches of the product to the manufacture of the first materials. The PLM system is a big help because the design of the product and its manufacturing process are more related than ever and the connection to the supply chain is faster.”

As for the integration with other software, the managers at ITP emphasise the importance of the connection between Teamcenter and ERP. “We are collecting the core elements of the manufacture of the product in the ERP, so it needs to be closely related to design reports that support them,” says Basabe.

“Our goal is the integration of ERP with PLM to import and export the definition of any manufacturing process data to any of our subsidiaries, to develop processes in which knowledge can be found, and to share the best practices of the company,” says Iñaki Fernández Arza, manager of design integration.

Moreover, Teamcenter is connected to SIMATIC IT, manufacturing execution system (MES) software from Siemens, which was recently introduced to the centre in Zamudio. It has improved communications between departments and promotes a paperless factory, one of the big challenges facing ITP. “When it is necessary to transmit information from the engineering desk to the factory plant, it is the MES system that supports it,” says Basabe. “Therefore, the connection between MES and PLM is crucial. For this reason we have opted for SIMATIC IT.”

In the field of design, Olabarria notes that Teamcenter can work with different CAD systems used by ITP, with the company’s main CAD solution being NX software from Siemens PLM Software.

“NX allows us to significantly reduce the time it takes to handle big assemblies, a big challenge for us in turbine design,” says Ulizar. “We are seeing significant benefits in having NX as our main CAD system. Its ease of connection with Teamcenter is fundamental. Having NX as a design and editing tool has shortened the time it takes to launch our products.”

Finally, Basabe points out the connection between Teamcenter and the Microsoft technologies that form a collaborative environment in the ITP ecosystem: “The architecture supporting PLM is from Microsoft, and another important pillar is the SharePoint environment. The collaboration with suppliers, partners, subcontractors and clients is done through the Siemens PLM Software and Microsoft tools.”

Eduard Marfà, marketing director for the EMEA region at Siemens PLM Software, explains more about the PLM solution’s reliance on Microsoft technologies: “The solution relies heavily on SQL Server, which provides a streamlined, robust, scalable and secure database platform for Teamcenter deployments.

Meanwhile, SharePoint Server is absolutely fundamental to ITP’s ability to collaborate with its suppliers securely and in real-time,” he says. “It has proven to be extremely easy to deploy and allows the company to share the exact information that it wants to.”

After a year of work, the first phase of the PLM system was completed successfully. “The implementation requires us to think about how to improve the processes and to re-engineer them,” says Arza.

“The PLM system allows us to measure things, and all things you can measure are things you can improve,” says Alfredo Ruiz. “With PLM, we have no duplicate data, just unique data. Thanks to the integration of PLM with ERP we can enjoy highly arranged processes. Thanks to Teamcenter, ITP is improving its communication skills and effectiveness. The PLM system allows different areas to give their points of view. Therefore, when the product gets to manufacturing, this process is much faster, the time-to-market is reduced and the global process is more efficient.”

“With PLM, we improve the quality of the products because we have full traceability on the system processes. It also forces us to review the flow of our processes to make them more agile so as to gain a competitive edge,” adds Gontzal Ruiz.

After this first stage, the collaboration between ITP and Siemens PLM Software is focused on expanding the use of Teamcenter to the engineering and assembly areas. In the future, Teamcenter will also be implemented at the company’s subsidiaries in Mexico and the United Kingdom.

“Change management involves many people,” says Olabarria. “The big challenge of implementing Teamcenter is to integrate and train everyone involved.”

Mataix considers the adoption of a corporate PLM solution as a strategic project for the company. “We are in the first phase of the exercise and we are pleased with the results,” he says. “But we still have a long path in front of us. Teamcenter is at the core of the business because it complements our products. We are expecting that results may be better than we initially expected.”

Ulizar summarises the positive outlook for ITP in relation to technological partnership with Siemens PLM Software: “When adopting a key tool like Teamcenter, the relationship with Siemens PLM Software becomes absolutely strategic. We hope to be able to transmit our needs to Siemens PLM Software. In exchange, we expect them to be able to understand these needs and bring on the best solutions. We know Siemens PLM Software is able to gather experiences from other industries to give us more added value regarding what we are looking for in terms of quality, integration, uniqueness of data and process improvements. We are talking here about a relationship likely to last years, if not decades.”

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