ARB drives down time-to-market with Intercad
22/02/2011 - Automotive component manufacturer, ARB Corporation, has decreased its time-to-market by two-thirds as a result of its computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) implementation from Australian specialist, Intercad.
Intercad is the leading Australian and New Zealand authorised reseller of SolidWorks 3D CAD/CAM technology, supported by a comprehensive portfolio of technical and business services. The company has more than 20 years' experience in the design, engineering and manufacturing industries.
Based in Melbourne, Victoria, ARB designs, manufactures and markets accessories to suit most current and older-model four-wheel drive vehicles. An Australian-owned company, ARB sells direct to the public from its showroom in Melbourne and to OEMs including Toyota and Nissan. As well as servicing the Australian market, the company's products are exported to Europe, South Africa and the US.
ARB is one of Intercad's longest standing customers, having first purchased the company's flagship product, SolidWorks, in 1998. ARB had always been an early adopter of new technologies and Ivan Clencie, the company's engineering manager, says moving to 3D modelling was just another way to ensure the company remained innovative and competitive.
"We are at the point where lower-end overseas manufacturers are copying our products, right down to putting ARB stickers on their products," says Clencie. "Our challenge is to ramp up our R&D efforts and to stay ahead by producing better products more quickly, which we have been able to do with the help of Intercad's products and services."
ARB has a dedicated R&D unit, which includes engineers from Clencie's team. He says improvements in the company's design cycle have not only decreased its time-to-market but also freed up these engineers to work on new products.
"The improvements in our design cycle have meant we can service the market better and put more effort into the development of what I call 'left-field' products that differentiate us from lower-end manufacturers," says Clencie.
One of these 'left-field' products is ARB's 4WD Fridge Freezer. The development of the 4WD Fridge Freezer took more than three years of research and design, followed by extensive testing in the workshop and the field. Clencie says the development of this product would not have been possible if the company hadn't realised the savings in its design cycle from its CAD/CAM implementation.
As part of its strive to continue to innovate and invest in new technology, ARB has recently purchased product data management software, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, from Intercad. SolidWorks Enterprise PDM provides version control and secure design data re-use for large design teams which work with multiple suppliers and customers.
ARB has installed and tested SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and will shortly go live with the software. When purchasing the product ARB also invested in customised training from Intercad to ensure its staff get up to speed quickly on the new program when it is rolled out. Clencie says Intercad's service and knowledge of ARB's business are two of the core values it provides to the company.
"The customised training Intercad provides is essential in getting the most of the new programs we invest in," says Clencie. "One of the good things about SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is that it has a familiar look and feel to our previous PDM system, which, along with the training, will help our engineers get up to speed quickly."
Along with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, ARB has a combination of SolidWorks and SolidWorks Simulation seats installed at its Melbourne design facility. SolidWorks Simulation provides the company with finite element analysis (FEA), which allows it to virtually test the structural components of its products for interferences which may affect the end result.
"Not only are we using Intercad's products and services to reduce the time to design and manufacture our products, but we are also using complementary programs, like finite element analysis, to provide our customers with a better quality product," says Clencie. "The ability to import scanned data of the vehicles to which we are fitting accessories has dramatically reduced product failure because we can improve the product before manufacture."
"Local automotive manufacturers have recently had a tough time in the Australian market where it's becoming increasingly difficult to compete against cheaper, imported goods," says Max Piper, CEO, Intercad. "But, instead of trying to match its prices with its overseas rivals, ARB is competing based on quality, which will help it maintain its reputation as a manufacturer of reliable, leading-edge products.
"CAD/CAM services and a 3D capability are essential for Australian component manufacturers if they want to work with the large OEMs like Nissan and Toyota," continues Piper. "Being able to share models and other design data makes communication and collaboration that much easier when working with multiple suppliers or customers."