By moving from 2D to SolidWorks Premium 3D design software, a recycling and waste process machinery specialist accelerated the development of its turnkey recycling systems and related equipment.
Brentwood Recycling Systems is a leading Australian manufacturer and designer of turnkey recycling plants, as well as individual waste processing equipment such as conveyors, shredders, feeders, and trommel screens.
Although Australia remains Brentwood's primary market, customers all over the world rely on the manufacturer's recycling machinery.
Until 2005, Brentwood used AutoCAD 2D design tools to develop its systems. However, the company's desire to improve design accuracy and secure an advantage over increasing competition prompted an evaluation of available 3D CAD systems, according to Managing Director Graham Badman.
The challenge: streamline, accelerating development of turnkey recycling plants and equipment
"Designing turnkey plants was too difficult and time-consuming in 2D," Badman said.
"With 2D, there's always a risk of inaccuracies, requiring retrofits, and we increasingly needed our designs to interact with other systems.
"Also, as our designs grew in sophistication, the entire process just got too complicated.
"By moving to 3D, we wanted to streamline our processes and gain a technical advantage over competitors.
"I looked around at available 3D systems and talked to a lot of designers and engineers.
"I kept hearing good reports about SolidWorks software and discovered that it had great acceleration in the market in Australia, with an increasing number of manufacturers adopting it for product development.
"When I looked into it more deeply, I discovered that the weldment functionality and the way that SolidWorks handles structural steel design are particularly well suited to our work.
"I was determined to make the best decision and decided to move to SolidWorks."
The solution: implementing SolidWorks Premium 3D design software
Brentwood chose SolidWorks Premium design software because it's easy to learn and use, provides weldment and structural steel design capabilities, and includes design visualisation and communication tools.
"Roughly 80 per cent of our designs utilise weldments," Badman said.
"It's almost as if SolidWorks was specifically set up to handle the type of work that we do."
The results: boosting productivity
Since implementing SolidWorks Premium software, Brentwood has increased productivity in product design and production.
"Our greatest productivity gains derive from our preliminary plant designs," Badman said.
"With SolidWorks, we can produce designs for complex plants in just a couple days – work that would have taken four times as long in 2D."
Development cycles have been reduced by 75 per cent
"Using SolidWorks, we can move the design along at a much quicker rate," he said.
"With a parametric CAD system, it's much faster and easier to make design changes because all the dimensions update automatically.
"When you are designing plants, you often need to adjust heights or lengths or increase the size of a pulley on a conveyor.
"SolidWorks streamlines the design change process. It also allows us to develop designs that we simply could not have achieved using 2D."
Greater accuracy minimises rework
The move to SolidWorks has benefited Brentwood's manufacturing operations because the software increases accuracy, reduces design errors, and minimises rework.
"When we worked in 2D, we always had errors that had to be addressed in production," Badman said.
"With SolidWorks, we've become more accurate, resulting in a 90 per cent reduction in rework.
"By minimising rework, we save time, accelerate time-to-market, and reap substantial cost savings.
"The savings that we realised on the very first plant that we designed in SolidWorks recouped roughly two-thirds of the capital investment cost associated with the migration to 3D.
"By the time we completed our second project, we were saving real money. We realised a return on our investment after two projects."
Improved visualisation drives sales effort
In addition to delivering productivity gains in design and manufacturing, the SolidWorks implementation has elevated the quality and effectiveness of Brentwood's sales function.
By using SolidWorks design visualisation and communication tools, such as PhotoView 360 renderings and eDrawings files, Brentwood can demonstrate how its machinery and plants function in full 3D instead of relying on 2D drawings.
"SolidWorks has had a phenomenal impact on our sales effort," Badman said.
"With PhotoView 360, we create renders of every aspect of our plants, which is much more effective for illustrating how our systems operate.
"I use SolidWorks on my laptop to make detailed presentations, such as walking a client through the health and safety features of our equipment. I also use eDrawings files to communicate information that is more technical.
"At a sales level, we have a complete set of tools that we never had and that give us a real advantage.
"Since moving to SolidWorks, we've experienced continual movement forward in a positive direction."