Pushing for total transformation


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Image courtesy of Technica International

Automated product handling systems designer adopts an integrated collection of Autodesk solutions to dramatically improve efficiency and devote more time to innovation

Technica International designs, builds, and installs complex product handling and automation systems for a range of industries, including food, beverages, paper, packaging, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Fueled by an ambitious growth plan, the company selected the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection to transform its traditional manual processes to more streamlined, connected, and automated workflows.

The company has made big gains in efficiency, improving productivity anywhere from 50% to 1600% in certain applications.

Moving products around the world

If you can eat it, drink it, open it, or take it as medicine, that product was most likely moved through a factory by complex automation and handling systems. Technica International is one of the world’s leading providers of these systems, which combine conveyors, buffers, pallet handling, crate handling, packing, and truck loading equipment.

Based in Bickfaya, Lebanon, Technica International has designed and manufactured these systems since 1982, serving a diverse range of industries around the world. As a solution-provider and end-to-end line integrator, Technica International’s expertise lies mainly at the heart of the manufacturing chain. The fast-growing company set ambitious goals for itself in 2020 as part of an enterprise-wide plan to become leaner, more digital, and more efficient. This led Technica International to reconsider workflows and technologies that had been in place for decades.

Packaging system created by Technica International. Image courtesy of Technica International.

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“The main challenge was that the tools we were using were not integrated,” says Assaad Hani, business analyst, who leads the “Go Lean, Go Digital, Go Global” project. “In other words, every department was working on its own. That means critical data would not always get transferred the right way. Often, we were moving data with spreadsheets, which makes version control difficult.”

For example, if someone on the manufacturing team pulled an older version of a product design by mistake, it would create a great deal of rework. Without a unified way to control design and manufacturing information, coordination across teams was not running at optimal efficiency.

Starting with new solutions

Technica International’s transformation began early in 2020 when the company acquired a wide range of solutions from Autodesk, including the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection. After several months of experience, the company is starting to realize the return on its investment.

“We chose Autodesk because it is a very well-known and trusted brand,” Hani says. “When we looked at the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection, we realized it could connect all of our processes. It covered all our needs and everything was already integrated. We didn’t have to do anything to bring in AutoCAD Electrical, for example, because it was already integrated with Inventor. Everything has been easy to implement and very user-friendly.”

Ultimately, Technica International went with Autodesk over other compelling competitive offerings because of the complete package that they were receiving. “The service and support with Autodesk is great,” Hani says. “We didn’t realize that right away. But if you send a request or a claim ticket, you get a response within 24 hours. We like it very much.”

From 2D to 3D, faster than ever

Before moving to the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection, Technica International followed a traditional workflow in which technical sales teams created 2D layouts while closing the job with the customer. The mechanical engineering team would create 3D designs based on these layouts, with the electrical engineering team designing control systems in parallel.

“We were starting from zero every time we moved from the 2D sales drawing to the 3D model,” Hani says. “The project team had to rebuild the entire layout in 3D. It was very repetitive.”

Today, the process starts with Autodesk Factory Design Utilities, which the Technica International team uses to optimize production lines and equipment layout at customer sites, given the constraints of the facility and any existing equipment.

“Now our work is much easier because we’re building a library of factories,” Hani says. “We just take the 2D mechanical representation from the library, place them in the layout drawing, complete the configuration, and synchronize it all to 3D. None of our work is lost in the transition, so we can meet our deadlines faster.”

Working on 2D and 3D models with Factory Design Utilities. Image courtesy of Technica International.

Cutting design time in half

Another example of the impact of an integrated solution set comes when the electrical engineering team specifies controls, sensors, and electrical panels for the system. Previously, the mechanical and electrical teams worked in separate silos, which made it difficult to keep up with changes. If the electrical team added components to a panel, the mechanical team might not have the right cabling in place to support it. Now both teams are working from the same 3D layout in Inventor.

Integration makes workflow automation much simpler too. Technica International used to optimize equipment layout predominantly with calculations done manually in spreadsheets that were set up with customized formulas. This meant every time the layout changed, the spreadsheet had to be modified accordingly to get new calculations. Now they pull the data into AutoCAD directly from Autodesk Process Analysis 360 automatically.

“Using integrated solutions like the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection allows us to reduce our design time by half,” Hani says. “We’re not repeating work, which is a big time savings. If we have standard projects that use components from the library, we can minimize engineering time as well. On top of that, we’re eliminating the risk of losing time correcting errors because we’re all using accurate data.”

A new world of customer collaboration

Making collaboration easier extends to Technica International’s customers as well. The company started using Shared Views during the pandemic lockdown, which allowed engineering teams to work from home without any loss of productivity. They quickly realized this tool could solve the familiar challenge of sharing very large design files with customers.

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“We always had issues sharing drawings, taking screenshots and then uploading large files and asking customers to download special software in order to review them,” Hani says. “Now we just send them a link in an email, and they can access the designs and drawings very easily. They can even add their comments. It’s a whole new world as far as discussion and collaboration.”

Within the company, Fusion Teams will soon allow the engineering groups to collaborate even more effectively than with Shared Views. Hani expects the secure, cloud-based platform to make it easier for multiple teams to work together on the same project, without giving up any control over which users can access which data. In fact, Technica International is already using Fusion 360 and has begun the process of allowing R&D engineers to innovate and iterate on concepts more rapidly.

“Fusion 360 will help the innovation teams focus on what they do best and not spend as much time gathering and preparing data,” Hani says.

Technica International project for Pepsi Jordan. Image courtesy of Technica International.

Pushing productivity further

To improve productivity on the shop floor, Technica International is taking advantage of the iLogic tools within Autodesk Inventor to streamline the transition from engineering to manufacturing. In the prior workflow, manufacturing managers had to write out instructions for operators manually, such as how to cut certain profiles of sheet metal or how many bends to incorporate. Now these instructions are extracted automatically from the 3D model using iLogic rules.

Technica International | Customer Stories | Autodesk

“It’s been a major transformation,” says Samer Bou Karam, Senior Research and Development Engineer. “Previously, everything was done separately. Now we can extract the features required for manufacturing, whether it’s the amount of excess to use in nesting or the number of holes. As we work, we check the manufacturing requirements and integrate them into the iLogic rules, then use event triggers to produce the final set of manufacturing instructions.”

The team is also using the Content Center to automate how part numbers are created for new parts and also to extract the bill of materials and ensure that all the necessary parts are available. “We crunched the numbers and the time savings for our engineers with these new solutions is around 1600%,” says Cyril Haddad, Digital Manager. “If it took us 16 hours before, now it only takes one.”

The electrical engineering team is taking a similar approach, extracting details from the 3D models to automatically create a catalog of components.

Content Center parts to be used with iLogic in configurations, with custom parameters and automatic part numbering creation. Image courtesy of Technica International.

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“We created a library of all our standard components in Autodesk AutoCAD,” says Eliane Jeitani, Electrical Design Engineer. “It includes all of the specifications as well as links to the panel layouts and the individual 3D components in Inventor. We have all the information about any component at our fingertips and we can extract a large array of reports and bills of materials from it. We are aiming to reach the point where our electrical drawings are created automatically, with the click of a button.”

“Using integrated solutions like the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection allows us to reduce our design time by half,” Hani says. “We’re not repeating work, which is a big time savings. If we have standard projects that use components from the library, we can minimize engineering time as well. On top of that, we’re eliminating the risk of losing time correcting errors because we’re all using accurate data.”

Assaad Hani, Business Analyst, Technica International

Incremental gains lead to innovation

Technica International is making huge strides in its overall efficiency from design to engineering to manufacturing and customer service. At the same time, the company is determined to push the envelope with these new solutions to become even more competitive.

“The good thing is we are seeing the return on investment as we go,” says Bou Karam. “We try one approach, we don’t see a benefit, but we try another approach, and we do. Pretty soon, we see an incremental gain. No matter what, we’re freeing up our teams’ time. If they had a task that used to take two or three days, now it takes one. They have more time to focus on what matters most to them, whether that’s engineering or innovation.”

The Technica International installation team. Image courtesy of Technica International.

Product Design & Manufacturing Collection

The Product Design & Manufacturing Collection is an integrated set of professional-grade applications that connect everyone, from concept through production, with shared tools to streamline your product development process. The collection enables you to create your most ambitious ideas, collaborate efficiently, automate busywork, and explore more design options than ever before.

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