When Stefan Kolb, Manager of Research and Design, joined the newly formed Robbins GmbH company, a tunneling and mining equipment manufacturer, he made it absolutely clear: product development must be based on 3D CAD.
“It was the year 2003; I certainly wasn’t going to set up a 2D design process,” says Kolb. “With 3D, we can show customers exactly what we intended in discussions, we can run simulations, and we can detect problems early on.”
Plus, 3D ensures accurate quotation. “You can fool yourself and your customers with 2D drawings, but that can be very dangerous,” says Bernhard Sänger, General Manager, Robbins GmbH.
What They Needed
But not just any 3D CAD system would meet the company’s needs. When Robbins GmbH first began business, they tried to use the history-based 3D CAD modeler from a vendor that had supplied their parent company with 2D in the past. But the modeler threatened to bring the company to its knees.
“We were close to desperation,” says Kolb. “For example, we wanted to remove a hole from a symmetrical design. We found a specialist to do the work – the woman who created the hole in the first place. It took her two hours to remove it. Anybody unfamiliar with the history tree of this design might have taken all day. Just to remove a hole!”
For Robbins GmbH, the system-related inflexibility of parametric systems is unacceptable. The company creates complex models and expects some change orders, often late in the design process. Robbins GmbH demands a CAD technology that not only accommodates change, but also makes it possible for any designer to make changes quickly at any time.
But that’s not all they demand. In the future they want to re-use CAD data for virtual prototyping. “Our customers pay us for a perfect product,” says Sänger. “In fact, they don’t pay entirely until they see our machines flawlessly bore a 300 m hole on the job site!”
Finding a Solution
To ensure a successful deployment, Robbins GmbH relies on CoCreate’s OneSpace Designer Modeling with its history-free design approach. The company also uses FE analysis and motion checking, to optimize designs. “Without the CoCreate software,” says Kolb, “we’d end up solving many of our problems with a welding torch. That’s expensive and time-consuming.”
But there’s more to the design environment than a good 3D CAD system, especially when projects involve multiple engineering disciplines in different locations. So, Robbins GmbH uses OneSpace.net, CoCreate’s online collaboration system, to spontaneously communicate with everybody involved.
“For example, we needed to connect a switch box, with water-cooled variable frequency drives (VFD), in a challenging design space to another box,” says Kolb. “In an online meeting, we sorted everything out in four minutes, with no mistakes.
In another case we had to re-design a 50-meter crane arrangement in a rear carriage. Team members affected by this drastic model change resided partially in the U.S., the supplier of the crane was based out of the UK, and I was responsible for the overall project in Germany,” says Kolb. With OneSpace.net’s high-speed application sharing, the company solved the problem in just four hours.
Kolb is convinced that without OneSpace.net, he would have spent four weeks and huge travel costs for at least one physical meeting along with copious e-mails to ensure the $300,000 crane worked properly.
“With OneSpace.net, we solve serious design challenges at minimum cost,” says Sänger. “We can extend the design team to pull in resources with special skills without losing the efficiency of our 3D process.”
As the company grows and prospers, will Designer Modeling and OneSpace.net’s lightweight version of PLM be enough? “Some people claim that you need a big data management system for development,” says Sänger. “But I’ve yet to see the benefits.
“All we ask for is the most powerful, richest 3D CAD system we can get," says Kolb. “One that will work tightly with the Microsoft systems we already use and ERP systems we plan to implement. And CoCreate delivers just that.”
CoCreate Software, Inc.