Vermeer Corporation Accelerates Large Machinery Development with SOLIDWORKS

In 1939 Gary Vermeer, a 21-year-old farmer with a passion for doing things, better, and faster, and easier, designed and built a cab for a John Deere tractor. While other farmers were freezing from exposure as they worked their Iowa fields in early spring, Vermeer stayed warm in his innovative cab.

In 1943 Vermeer invented a mechanical wagon hoist that made unloading corn from many farms far easier, and fellow area farmers requested hoists for themselves. To fill that need, Vermeer and his cousin Ralph founded Vermeer Corporation in 1948, now a global leader in the manufacture of machinery and equipment for agriculture, biomass, tree care, landscape, rental, recycling, forestry, utility, pipeline, and mining markets.

Vermeer’s philosophy for success has always been finding a need and filling that need with the best product. In 1971 Vermeer heard a friend was about to get rid of his cattle due to difficulty in finding at least four people to help put up his hay. Vermeer knew there had to be a better way, and developed the one-ton round hay baler, thereby changing hay baling into a one-man operation and transforming the hay industry.

By the 1980s Vermeer Corporation was international. In the 1990s Vermeer’s horizontal directional drill technology enabled the quick installation of the network of underground fiber cables that helped advance the dot-com boom.

Accelerating Development by Automating Processes

Today Vermeer manufactures over 100 product models. To accomplish its goals, Vermeer needs to develop new equipment and machinery designs more efficiently. That’s why the company added SOLIDWORKS Simulation, product data management (PDM), and technical communication tools to streamline development.

Vermeer has increased its development and production throughput with automated workflows with the SOLIDWORKS PDM system. The corporation has achieved additional system automation using the SOLIDWORKS Application Programming Interface (API).“We are constantly using SOLIDWORKS, PDM, and the API to their furthest extents to tie the tools together, automate workflow processes, and work better with SOLIDWORKS,” says Johnson.

For example, Vermeer leverages the controlled and automated environment of the API to customize its design review and design checking process. The system pulls an eDrawings® file of each design, and design checkers provide feedback via its markup capabilities.

SOLIDWORKS PDM also pays dividends at Vermeer by automating the company’s engineering change (ECN) process. “Our ECN process is quite complex with a different series of tasks for various personnel,” Johnson notes. “All these things have to be done before an engineering change is made, with several checks and balances built into the process.”

SOLIDWORKS PDM controls the entire process, which guarantees each user follows all the steps they are responsible for. This automation ensures no step is missed while accelerating and improving ECN management.

Leveraging Design Data Across Enterprise

In addition to automating design and engineering tasks, the SOLIDWORKS PDM system at Vermeer benefits other related functions, including Manufacturing, Purchasing, and Technical Writing Groups.

Personnel in these areas use SOLIDWORKS PDM contributor licenses to access and leverage design data—for production referencing, quoting, and documentation/illustration development. With SOLIDWORKS Composer software, the Technical Writing Group can more quickly and easily transform SOLIDWORKS design models into 3D renderings and exploded-view illustrations.

“Anyone who needs a drawing can use PDM to get it,” Johnson points out. “Manufacturing personnel can print drawings on the shop floor, Purchasing can get drawings for quotes, and Technical Writing can obtain models for manipulation in SOLIDWORKS Composer without having design edit access.

With SOLIDWORKS Composer software, Vermeer technical writers can more easily transform SOLIDWORKS design models into 3D renderings and exploded-view illustrations in product documentation without the help of the engineers who created the designs.

“We anticipate dramatic improvements to our user, service, and parts manuals in the coming years,” says Johnson enthusiastically.

Making Better Products Faster

The third generation of leadership at Vermeer Corporation is working to carry on Gary Vermeer’s passion for innovation and continuous improvement.

“We are getting more and more efficient, and our development and production throughput have grown since we implemented SOLIDWORKS Product Data Management (PDM),” says Greg Johnson, project engineer, engineering applications. “Our machines involve very large assemblies—some in the 10,000-part range—so finding ways to automate processes is important.”

Check out Vermeer corporation’s website to learn more about their products. To see how SOLIDWORKS can help you innovate both design and internal product development processes, contact your local reseller.


Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.