If you have ever flown there is a good chance that at some time or other your life has depended on the quality and excellence of a Messier-Dowty product. Messier-Dowty is the world’s leading supplier of aircraft landing gear. It provides these vital assemblies to such civil aircraft manufacturers as Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Fairchild Dornier and Bombardier.
Currently, it is estimated that more than 15 000 aircraft are fitted with landing gear supplied by Messier-Dowty and that these make 20 000 takeoffs per day. The company has an annual turnover in excess of US $500 million. It supplies integrated landing systems to more than 30 airframe manufacturers and also supports more than 600 commercial and military operators around the world. Messier-Dowty's 2900 employees are located in eight operational sites throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
The company's products are characterised by the most stringent standards of design, manufacture and testing to achieve the necessary levels of usage, reliability and safety. A wide range of specialist machine tools has been designed and constructed to enable the development and production of the large range of landing gear assemblies. In the process many thousands of drawings and microfilms have been created over the years. These record the various modifications that have been necessary for the fabrication of each new landing gear assembly.
Ian Makin, who is one of the most important users of the drawing and microfilm archives at Messier-Dowty in Gloucester, commented that, "Our main challenge was to ensure that our scanned-in drawings and microfilms could be quickly and accurately altered and edited to reflect our new tooling requirements. We were looking for a technical imaging product that allowed us to do this, and as we already use Expert CAD as our design tool, we did not want to have to buy a copy of another CAD package in order to access these imaging facilities and capabilities."
Makin went on to add, "With this in mind, after evaluation, we chose GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000. It provides us with a perfect, standalone solution. On the one hand, we are able to import vector design files from our Expert CAD system into the GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000 environment and on the other we can bring in the raster files from our scanned drawings and microfilms. We are then able to make use of the comprehensive draughting and editing facilities within GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000 to make the required changes and updates in either raster and/or vector, before finally converting the whole file into a simple TIF (raster) format."
Makin explained, "The TIF output files are exported into our Cimage Drawing Retrieval and Management System from where they can be accessed from anywhere within the company for viewing and printing, provided that the user has the appropriate access rights. These up-to-date TIF files are also used as the main medium to communicate with our subcontractors. They form the basis of specifications and tender documents that enable the subcontractors to do accurate costing exercises as they prepare their proposals for our consideration."
The GTX software solutions were supplied by CADSpec, who are the CAD and imaging specialist company within the Worcester headquartered Stanford Marsh Group.
Dave Moore, who is the GTX Product Manager for CADSpec, commented that, "Messier-Dowty has used a Xerox 8825 DDS system for scanning their drawings and a Wicks & Wilson Microfilm scanner for some time now. We initially supplied them with a copy of GTXImage Edit and this is in daily use to help them de-skew, crop, de-speckle and clean-up their scanned drawings and microfilm scans. With the recent introduction of the new GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000 software solution we were able to offer Messier-Dowty the ability to combine their Expert CAD files and their scanned files together in a way that gave them the best of both worlds in one product." Moore went on to add that, "The GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000 software has been supplied on a floating network licence, and this provides additional flexibility of usage to the Messier-Dowty engineers. The training went very smoothly and they were productive during the same day that the software was installed."
In summarising Messier-Dowty's experiences, Makin commented: "Before we introduced GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000 we used to have to alter the drawings in the traditional way, editing by hand, 'scratching-out' and sometimes redrawing completely, all of which were very costly and time-consuming. We are very pleased with GTXImage CAD PLUS 2000. It has transformed our drawing office procedures. We estimate that we are now at least 20 times as productive in our drawing update and other related tasks."
It is perhaps reassuring that even in the high-flying world of commercial and military aircraft, something as down to earth as drawings and the ability that Messier-Dowty now has to update them easily, efficiently and electronically helps give this impressive company the edge that it needs to stay ahead of its competition, while keeping its feet - or should it be wheels - firmly on the ground.
GTX is represented locally by Imaging Innovations, tel: (011) 285 0075.