HeliMods fully digitalises its entire manufacturing process

Siemens Ltd

Thursday, 18 November, 2021

HeliMods fully digitalises its entire manufacturing process

Australian aerospace technology company HeliMods has chosen Siemens’ Xcelerator software portfolio to fully digitalise its entire product design and manufacturing process, making it the first company of its size in the local aerospace sector to do so. Siemens says the implementation of closed loop manufacturing (CLM) across its manufacturing capability using Siemens’ manufacturing execution system (MES) will enable HeliMods to achieve development and production of high-complexity, high-value, scalable solutions using a single digital thread across the entire product lifecycle.

The implementation of the software was enabled by a co-investment grant from the federal government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) and will support HeliMods’ global and local growth trajectory in aerospace, defence, air ambulance and other key industries.

The announcement was made at HeliMods in the Sunshine Coast by Federal MP Andrew Wallace, who said, “Thanks to this project, HeliMods is now the only Australian business with Defence Production Approval that is using such a closed loop manufacturing system, offering Australia a unique new sovereign defence industry capability based right here on the Coast.”

The MES solution will also help HeliMods reduce development timeframe and cost and increase efficiency while also allowing increased levels of product innovation.

HeliMods was recently approved by the Australian Defence Aviation Safety Authority (DASA) as one of only two active organisations in Australia to receive DASR 21, Section A, Subpart G – Military Production Organisation Approval (MPOA) status, establishing HeliMods as the only Australian business with Defence Production Approval that is leveraging this unique combination of digital technologies.

“With these digital tools we can take our innovations to the world,” said Will Shrapnel, HeliMods Founder and Managing Director. “As we grow in strength and market scope, it is critical to leverage the hi-tech manufacturing technology that enables highly streamlined work, freeing up our talent to focus more on product innovation.

“Siemens’ software has played a critical role in our design and development work all along with advanced software that enabled us to create digital twins of our innovations and fast-track much needed solutions for aerospace. The implementation of the MES framework is a highly significant step which continues to build our digital thread. The implementation will give our customers a great view of rich data and achieve high quality, high speed and high agility production — the Holy Grail of digital manufacturing. Innovation has been the mainstay of our growth and it’s great to see us set the digital manufacturing benchmark for aerospace in Australia.”

The new system will enable HeliMods to connect to physical manufacturing infrastructure anywhere in the world without the requirement for person-centric links. It also provides complete product traceability, oversight and data trust for high-security industries such as defence.

Siemens Australia’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Connolly congratulated HeliMods on the growth to date and recent implementation.

“HeliMods is a great example of Australian ingenuity and innovation that has flourished using digital technologies,” he said. “What we see time and time again is that those companies investing in digitalisation and automation to create technology with purpose can compete with anyone in the world. HeliMods have continued to innovate not just what they produce but how they produce it. This means increased speed, flexibility, efficiency and better outcomes for the world such as their one-touch stretcher system for search and rescue helicopters.

“And with support of federal government programs such as the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, these companies can get a leg up, grow faster and bring their great innovations to life.”

Dr Jens Goennemann, Managing Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, acknowledged that an increasing number of Australian manufacturers are looking for new ways to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness, and that funding plays a key role in supporting this intention.

“Commercialisation of Australian innovation is critical to the growth of the industry,” he said. “However, beyond the support with co-investment, our intention as an industry-led organisation is to provide the right-fit support for businesses that are scaling up. In the case of HeliMods, it’s collaboration with industry experts like Siemens that sets them up for future growth.”

The MES agreement extends Siemens’ existing relationship with HeliMods that has seen HeliMods use Siemens’ software to design and deliver the world’s-first Powered Aero Loader (PAL) to customers such as Ornge, an air ambulance and medical transport organisation in Canada, and helicopter fleet transformation services to RACQ LifeFlight in Queensland.

Utilising Siemens’ NX computer-aided (CAD) software integrated with Teamcenter Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, HeliMods has interactively designed all product components and leveraged the diverse array of advanced software integrations available, such as computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) to effectively iterate and create optimised product solutions for its customers.

Leveraging Siemens’ Opcenter Execution Discrete (MES) software integrated with Teamcenter, HeliMods is able to manage bill of process (BOP), create data transparency across domains and streamline shop-floor issues analysis and resolution, enabling the continuous improvement process.

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