A casual observer at this year’s Material Intelligence seminar (and associated 6th North European Granta User Group meeting), held earlier this month at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK, will have come away with one core message. Whether we’re talking about processes, materials data, or driving a cultural change, the key to success is having a singular purpose and approach.

Many engineering enterprises face the challenges that come with having legacy data, sitting in isolated siloes, unconnected. Such divisions can unknowingly duplicate tests, and significant sums of money are lost as data is produced and then, as Amandeep Mhay, project leader of the enterprise materials information management project at Rolls-Royce, so eloquently put it ‘left to rot’. During his presentation, Amandeep shared his experience of implementing a phased approach to materials information management at Rolls-Royce, with the help of Granta.

The program has been running for more than 10 years, and in that time it’s estimated that the cost savings at the aerospace manufacturer have risen to £6.9M per annum. The approach of creating a ‘single source of truth’ for verified materials information has maximized the value of that data by ensuring it is consistent, accurate, and accessible by authorized personnel who need it, enterprise wide. Costs are avoided, errors are reduced, and version-controlled data becomes fully traceable. Amandeep estimates that the savings will continue to rise.

This systematic approach to capturing and applying materials information has also produced positive results at Airbus Helicopters, as discussed by Martin Soler. The organization is in the midst of a digital transformation designed to unify the relevant departments and ensure they are all using the same materials data. Geographically spread apart, each department used to have islands of data and would essentially operate as a separate company.

Creating this single source of truth unifies departments. Airbus engineers can export reports with ease, look through years of traceable data, and link materials information to information on REACH restricted substances, aiding compliance. The GRANTA MI system is secure, and avoids data inconsistency, data loss, un-necessary retests, and wasted time. Technical and safety documents from suppliers can also be stored in the database.

Finally, Bethan Smith from MTC discussed the management of Additive Manufacturing (AM) data. MTC, along with Granta, was a member of the AMAZE project – a major European AM collaboration which used GRANTA MI to manage test and analysis data. And Rhodri Lewis of Renishaw spoke about material selection applications – notably, that Granta’s CES Selector solution is not just used for finding the best materials; but rather avoiding the bad ones. This reduces the number of materials that need to be evaluated, which can become a deciding factor on time-critical projects.

Across all of the speakers and discussions, a consistent theme was the need to take a systematic, unified approach to materials information and choices.

Beth Harlen

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