The main objective of the project is the development of a computer-aided system for tool production in order to reduce production development periods and permit flexible production of high quality and properly fitting shoes.
After comprehensive analyses of the shoe and last production processes requirements for the new tool production system have been determined. A new Digitizing-Modelling-Manufacturing-System has been designed, consisting of a fully automatic digitizing system, a 3D-CAD system (UNIX) and a fully automatic NC manufacturing system. Various single components within this chain were selected and developed as well as their interfaces.
In the 3D-CAD system under a global TOPSYS modules structure various shoe specific applications were developed and programmed. Applications within the defined last module, mould module, heel module and the database module were realised for quick and easy modelling of lasts and other shoe production tools.
A data communication system based on ISDN between the industrial partners has been designed. Suitable hardware and software has been implemented at the shoe manufacturer and the last manufacturer. Internal and external data communication also cross border were successfully tested.
The various developed and implemented TOPSYS pilot system components have been tested on the partners sites. The tests showed a very positive results in time reduction and quality improvement.
The TOPSYS concept for the simultaneous product and production tool development in the footwear industry based on CAD data as central data model will significantly shorten the development cycle in the footwear industry. It provide both vertical integration within supplier companies and company-to-company integration to shoe producer.
The use of a fully-automatic digitizing system integrates the manual work of designers and stylists with modern NC machines via CAD/CAM technology. The CAD model is used for styling and design of new shoes and shoe lasts as well as for the generation of technical data used to control a great variety of production machines.
With the implementation of the TOPSYS system an entire CAD/CAM chain starting from the original model which can be modified within a CAD system up to NC production has been successfully realized.
The model development period will be reduced from the average of 3 weeks necessary today to less than 1 week. This will enable shoe manufacturers to meet market demands within increasingly shorter product innovation cycles.
In contrast to the main seasons per year, more assortments could thus be realised per year in shorter intervals. Due to the uncertain sales forecasts close to the tie of sales, planning must include a large number of sample shoes which are made under great time pressure.
Under the new system this large number should be reduced by at least half.
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