The Lions Tour SOLIDWORKS Challenge

Why Compete:
With the upcoming British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa, MECAD Systems from South Africa and Solid Solutions from the United Kingdom have decided to partake in a 3-part series of challenges of our own.

A fantastic way to, not only get into the spirit of competition between our two nations but also to continue in the pursuit of excellence. As history has shown, mankind is always made better through trials, challenges, and competition!

The Scrum machine:
For the first challenge, MECAD and Solid Solutions was tasked with designing a scrum machine from scratch.

Read how Solid Solutions did their Scrum Machine in their blogs around Modelling Tips & Tricks and Virtual Testing.

Here is what MECAD came up with:

Design intent:
As all of us who work in this industry of design, innovation, and production know, we are driven by the need of the end-user. This can clearly be seen by the difficulty a new technology faces when entering the market.

Our question however was: How do we approach the design of a scrum machine when it is already a long-existing product in a seemingly saturated market? There are two possible approaches:

1. Be radical
With any product where the competition is so numerous, it can be invaluable to radicalize your business model or the products you sell. Standing head and shoulders above the competition take innovation and resources, but it can also thrust you into new markets and financial success.
In a moment we will discuss how this was the initial process followed. Though we can already say that there is a reason nobody has reinvented the wheel…
2. Do not reinvent, Improve
While the wheel has been around for ages, it never really remains the same wheel for long. From round stones to wooden cartwheels and even to the ultra-high-tech wheels you find on the Mars Rover; Improve, streamline, and perfect has been the unending and unceasing name of the proverbial game.

There are many ways we achieve this and the way we improve is usually decided by financial factors. In our case, this was exactly what drove the reasoning behind our design.

Design intent

The Radical method:

Like most engineers who believe in the beauty of innovation, we opted for the radical method and immediately wanted to make this the most incredible scrum machine the world has ever seen. With ideas and features to be added like:
⦁ Rollers instead of a platform
⦁ Spikes on these rollers to air out the ground while the player’s practice
⦁ Brakes on the roller that coaches can control to better simulate different scrum resistances
⦁ Adjustable scrum pads
⦁ Sensors on the scrum pads to analyze the way each player and the entire scrum applies the scrumming force.

But, alas, after further research and investigation, it was clear to see why no such machine has been built before. While making innovation the priority in a design is a fantastic testament to the pursuit of excellence, it is seldom more than an opportunity to learn and realize where there is room for improvement, but also how cost-effective that improvement can be.

Though every boy dreams of driving a Ferrari, it is still Toyota and Volkswagen who are the most successful car manufacturers in the world!

Improve and perfect method:

Our approach with the design then placed a big emphasis on a cost-effective, durable, and easy to manufacture machine. We realized that the most effective way to design this scrum machine would be to create something where we spend as little resources on this product, while still maintaining impeccable build quality.

As we go through the processes in the design we will elaborate on where and with what we applied these principles.

Our design:

The use of Weldments and Sheetmetal: With the cushions being the only exception, the entire scrum machine was designed using Weldments and Sheetmetal in SOLIDWORKS. This allows the product to not only be easily manufacturable but also very editable, should the need for alterations arise.

Minimum manufacturing processes: Another priority was to keep the number of manufacturing processes to a minimum to speed up the manufacturing process. We also ensured that most of the processes could be automated, apart from the welding process, to ensure consistent and superior build quality.

The Frame: The frame of the scrum machine consists of 80x80x6mm square tubing, requiring a mere 8 cuts to be made before they are welded together. We then add a 10mm sheet metal plate, with 20mm perforations, to the front of the frame where we will later be able to attach the scrum cushions at different heights and widths.

Next, we use 80x80x6 angle iron and 10mm rough-finish sheet metal to create the platform of the scrum machine. The platform consisting of 4 pre-manufactured platforms bolted onto the frame. A 6mm piece of sheet metal is added to the middle/supporting beam of the frame, acting as a spacer for the steps.

The cushions for the scrum machine are fitted to a frame consisting of two pieces of sheet metal, both welded onto a 400mm 60x60x5mm piece of angle iron. They then get bolted onto the plate in the desired position.

The foot of the machine consists of sheet metal flat bars welded together and then rounded off. Welded onto that base are two sections of 60x60x5 square tubing and two sheet metal brackets welded onto them, which will hold the entire substructure to the machine.

The base of this substructure might look difficult to manufacture, but the way in which it is made allows for a simpler approach too, should rounding it off be too time-consuming. We can leave the plates welded onto one another and reduce the number of plates used if we should choose to reduce the weight of the part.

After all the parts, nuts and bolts have been added the scrum machine weighs in at 891kg. This without using aluminum for any of the parts. The machine consisting of the cheapest possible steel. Here is what the completed product looks like before rendering in SOLIDWORKS Visualize:

Concluding remarks
While innovation and creative new ideas are invaluable for progress and improvement in the world of engineering and design, it is also clear to see the value of elegantly effective design ideas. With simplified designs, we can revolutionize the manufacturing processes of almost any industry, and it is clear to see through our design processes and the product that it generates, how SOLIDWORKS is an invaluable tool in making this possible.

Although design and engineering have been around for centuries, the use of CAD software has revolutionized and streamlined our field unlike any other tools we have used before, and at the head of plethora of software that can be used for this purpose, SOLIDWORKS stand alone in its effective application of design and engineering principles.

Not to mention how fantastic it presents itself.

Enjoy some of these brilliant Visualize renders done by Wian Vermaak.

Author: Pieter Hougaard
Design: Pieter Hougaard
Visualize: Wian Vermaak


As SA's largest and preferred SOLIDWORKS partner, we provide the complete engineering solution under one experienced and highly qualified roof. MECAD Systems provide the total engineering solution that leaves no need unaddressed. From conceptual design and design analysis to draughting, design collaboration, product data management and machining – we are the complete engineering solution under one highly qualified and experienced roof. We contribute our success in the industry to not only the provision of technically superior products but also our relentless commitment to provide ongoing customer support and training by highly qualified mechanical engineers and computer specialists.

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