I am getting ready to start a new large assembly and before I do I am pondering the most effective - least troublesome- method of organizing it.
A few background points.
- We manufacture large agricultural equipment (feeder mixers) that can come in 3 base options: mounted on a truck, mounted on a trailer, and mounted stationary on a concrete pad.
- Of these mixers we have say 6 distinct family lines basically based on size and mixing style.
- In any particular family line the body of the mixer can have 8-10 different variations depending on right or left feed, stainless or mild steel,1/4" or 3/8" steel ect.
- On these different families there can be numerous options that may or may not cross family or base option lines. The example I am currently working on involves the hydraulic package for one of the larger truck mounted mixers. The hydraulics can be powered by a unit on the front of the truck or one mounted on the rear of the cab. Of course there are several different packages that require different hydraulic setups for either front or rear mounted systems.
- Then there are the options like decals that would be the same on all 3 base options for each family.
- As you can see the permeations can get to be in the thousands.
Typically we have just created a new assembly for each new task, like I would pull a truck, add the mixer shell, set them in an envelope and start adding the hydraulic components. But is that the best way? Would it be better to have a base unit, say a truck with the feeder body on it to which all of the different options are assembled? That way you would be able to find all of the options and you would be able to know if they interfered with each other or not. On the other hand, man would that be a huge model and without PDM we might have problems with someone else in part of the model. ( we are already having those problems).
then again, when the different options are in separate models we sometimes find ourselves trying to assemble different options together and find, say, 6 feeder bodies on top of each other in the assembly. Big potential for circular references.
So how do others out there deal with large assemblies with different product lines? Should I stay the course with hundreds of smaller assemblies? Or should I look to a larger Master Model? Or is there a better idea that I haven't thought of?