A giant leap: 3D design solutions cut truck maker's race to market

The jump from 2D to 3D design software saved Loveland, Colo.-based SVI Trucks weeks of rework on the fire, police, and emergency trucks it makes for local governments around the nation. The switch also eased communication between engineering and the manufacturing floor, and enhanced the company’s marketing efforts.

12/18/2007


The jump from two dimensions to three can be substantial. That particular leap saved Loveland, Colo.-based SVI Trucks weeks of rework on the fire, police, and emergency trucks it makes for local governments around the nation. The switch also eased communication between engineering and the manufacturing floor, and enhanced the company’s marketing efforts, says Dave Moore-Sargent, engineering manager, SVI Trucks.
The truck maker recently upgraded from Autodesk 's two-dimensional AutoCAD CAD program to Autodesk's three-dimensional Inventor program. It next coupled the CAD software with the Autodesk Vault file management system, in which SVI houses a library of master designs for quick reuse and viewing.
Avatech Solutions , a provider of design automation and product life-cycle management (PLM) solutions for the manufacturing, building design, civil engineering, and GIS markets, helped orchestrate the switch.
Since the move, design time hasn’t compromised time-to-market—not that design affected production in the past, but for engineers, design was always a race. Without that third dimension, things might have been different going forward, Moore-Sargent says. Business increased by about 40 percent during the past five years. The small company currently makes 50 vehicles each year.
“Without the software, we would have fallen behind,” Moore-Sargent says. “Our shop is no longer waiting for us to produce an engineering package, whereas in the past we were behind in producing the package because it took so long.”
The switch has made the engineers’ jobs easier in part because the third dimension allows them to visualize parts and components with depth, and to more easily situate components within the truck body as they design via computer.
“We’re essentially loading components like hydraulic rescue pulls and water systems and air-compressors into a cube,” Moore-Sargent says. “We have to tell if they can fit.”
If, after manufacture and assembly, SVI found that components weren’t arranged correctly, engineers had to rework the truck body, which cost money and delayed customer delivery time. Also, customer-requested changes could sometimes lead SVI back to the drawing board for rework that might take weeks.
“We were trying to communicate with customers who aren’t necessary familiar with 2D drawings. It was difficult for them to understand the depths,” Moore-Sargent says. “Clients would develop a 3D image in their head of what they were proposing, but it was different from what we intended and we had no way to avoid miscommunication or misunderstanding. We would start building, they’d inspect it, and then we’d all realize the misunderstanding and we’d rework the project to meet heir needs."
The new system’s benefits now extend to the manufacturing floor, where the 3D CAD files are more readily integrated with CNC equipment.
“It’s easy to take 3D data and kick it out of those CNC devices,” Moore-Sargent says.
With that stepped-up integration in mind, SVI awaits delivery of a water jet table that can read 3D CAD documents. He expects the tool-cutting device—which SVI will use for sheet-metal parts—will shave days off the production schedule.
One other feature also is easing the time-to-market race: Engineers now store master projects and frequently used component designs within their system’s file application. That way, a pre-existing component design can easily be placed within new truck designs. Customers also can see typical truck designs in 3D, which aids the marketing department.
SVI customers now have a good sense of what the truck will look like before production, which cuts the rework. CAD files are routinely sent to them via the Internet, says Scott Hale, Avatech’s VP for manufacturing solutions. Such online collaboration saves both the customer and SVI time and money.
And in fact, it actually saves you time and money. “The savings comes down to taxpayer dollars, because that’s how all this is purchased,” Moore-Sargent concludes.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me