Innovation and being first to market have become the most significant drivers in stimulating market demand. Manufacturing and product success in today’s increasingly competitive global market requires greater agility, flexibility, and innovation at every step of the design-to-manufacturing process.
Manufacturers also face growing customer expectations for product customization. To overcome these challenges, manufacturing companies must accelerate the development of innovative concepts, foster better collaboration, and streamline operations.
The solution to these challenges is the emerging Smart Factory paradigm. Manufacturers are switching from traditional single-point design solutions to an integrated design-to-manufacturing environment where product development, manufacturing, and associated teams can concurrently leverage the master 3D CAD product data for all functions, including those downstream.
Here are three real-life examples of companies that are optimizing operations and product development.
1) Tekna, Inc.
As the largest industrial design and product development consulting firm in the state of Michigan, Tekna, Inc. has grown dramatically since its founding in 1988. Today, roughly 95 percent of the designers and engineers that the company hires already have SOLIDWORKS® experience. Tekna moved to SOLIDWORKS in 2015, implementing SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, Simulation Professional, Flow Simulation, Electrical 3D, Electrical Schematic Professional, and SOLIDWORKS CAM solutions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in early 2020, many larger manufacturing companies decided to hunker down and halted much of their product development activity, leaving Tekna with a lack of clients. Tekna decided to develop its own product aimed at the pandemic, commercialize ultraviolet disinfection technology, and launch a new spin-off company instead of cutting staff.
Using integrated SOLIDWORKS solutions, Tekna quickly developed the AvaUV disinfection unit—cutting the development cycle in half—and introduced an innovative, in-demand product. Vice President of Product Innovation, Mike Nellenbach, says, “Innovation isn’t just about creating an idea. It’s about transforming ideas into meaningful solutions and delivering value to the marketplace, and SOLIDWORKS tools are helping us achieve that goal.”
2) Centurion Systems
Centurion Systems manufactures a range of award-winning products to control the access of people and vehicles into and out of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. With hundreds of thousands of systems installed worldwide, Centurion has earned a reputation for reliable, innovative products that meet the needs of the gate and access automation industry.
The company’s SOLIDWORKS installation includes SOLIDWORKS Premium, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional, SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional, SOLIDWORKS Composer, and SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional solutions.
Since implementing SOLIDWORKS, Centurion has accelerated product time to market by 66 percent—developing new products in a third of the time—allowing the company to innovate and expand its product offering. R&D Mechanical Manager Michael Blackman attributes this improved productivity to shorter design cycles (which take a half to a third of the time), greater design reuse (which saves 50 to 75 percent of design time), and faster development of manufacturing tooling (which facilitates on-site production).
3) Grupo NAMM
Grupo NAMM makes equipment for air distribution in HVAC systems—such as grilles, diffusers, industrial louvers, and dampers. Founded in 1976 with its headquarters and 60,000-square-foot production facility in Monterrey, the company also operates several sales branches across Mexico and the United States after recently entering the U.S. market with its Airkitek® brand of products.
To show airflow performance, NAMM needed flow simulation and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis software. This prompted NAMM management to replace the previous design software they had been using with SOLIDWORKS solutions. The integration between the SOLIDWORKS Premium and SOLIDWORKS Flow Simulation solutions gives the company the flexibility needed to quickly perform flow simulations and increase heat transfer efficiency by optimizing product airflow.
In addition to quickly developing and launching the Airkitek brand in the U.S. since moving to SOLIDWORKS, NAMM has cut prototyping costs by 20 percent; developed its innovative, breakthrough TermoTransfer Technology; and slashed photography costs through the use of photo-realistic renderings.
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As manufacturers embrace and implement the Smart Factory concept, the competition, and market demands intensify the pressure to develop higher-quality, more innovative products more efficiently and cost-effectively. An effective response to these challenges requires greater interconnectivity, data sharing, and automation in product development and manufacturing.