ECOs done in minutes; new products introduced within 3 months
Solid Edge with synchronous technology offers a much faster way to work with third-party CAD data
Specialists in aesthetic technologies
Energist Group designs, manufactures and markets lasers and light-based systems for hair removal and aesthetic skin treatments. The company serves both the medical industry (dermatologists; plastic surgeons) as well as beauty market (aestheticians), and its business is international, with strong markets in Europe, America, Asia and the Pacific region. More than 8,000 of the company’s systems are currently in use worldwide.
Energist Group has grown through acquisitions and is widely seen as one of the leading players in its industry. The company’s market advantages are value and reliability. Energist operates in accordance with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards and its products meet the requirements of regulatory agencies such as U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada. The company finds itself increasingly competing against products that do not comply with such standards. “These are low-cost, unapproved products, and they affect our pricing structures,” says Dr. Andrew Thomas, Energist Group’s chief technical officer.
Something big on the horizon
Energist must balance the pressure to hold down costs with the ability to bring new technologies to market as quickly as possible. Because of the acquisitions, Energist’s products had been designed using several different computer-aided design (CAD) systems – primarily Autodesk® Inventor® software, Autodesk Mechanical Desktop® software and SolidWorks® software, with some created with Alibre® Design software as well. After deciding to standardize on a single CAD system, the company performed a head-to-head comparison of SolidWorks and Solid Edge® software from Siemens PLM Software. “The deciding factors were productivity, support and cost,” says Thomas. “Although SolidWorks was a complete suite like Solid Edge (which includes part modeling, assembly modeling, sheet metal modeling, piping design, drafting and simulation functionality), SolidWorks was not as user-friendly.”
During the evaluation process, the ease of use of Solid Edge was proven when Energist designers were able to model and then manufacture a prototype in only 5 days with no training. In addition to the ease of use, Energist chose Solid Edge because Siemens technical support, particularly the Global Technical Assistance Center (GTAC), is “second to none,” according to Thomas. Another factor in favor of Solid Edge was the indication from the reseller that “something big was on the horizon,” says Thomas. “That turned out to be synchronous technology, which I recommend to everyone. Siemens really hit the ball out of the park with synchronous technology.”
Fast design changes
Energist devices contain anywhere from 76 to 3,500 parts, with some critical components and assemblies being provided by outside vendors. Thomas estimates that Energist’s designers use synchronous technology for about 95 percent of the design process. The remaining 5 percent is piping and wire harness design, for which they use the traditional modeling approach.
“Not only is it easier to design parts and assemblies from scratch using synchronous technology, another important advantage is how quickly we can process ECOs (engineering change orders), and it doesn’t matter whether the design was done using Solid Edge or a third-party CAD system,” Thomas explains. “For example, when we needed to make one of our coolers smaller, it took only 2 hours using Solid Edge with synchronous technology to relocate all of the internal parts and assemblies. Drawings and STEP files were distributed to manufacturing within the same day. Something like that would have taken a few days previously.”
In another example of how easily existing geometry can be modified using synchronous technology, Thomas tells of a situation where the company needed to quickly create a rapid prototype of a component that had originally been modeled using SolidWorks. “The original SolidWorks file had two design errors – a missing surface and an overlapping edge,” he explains. “Without synchronous technology, we would have needed to understand the history of how that piece was created and even then, those changes would not have been easy to make. A few people thought we would actually have to remodel the part. But using Solid Edge with synchronous technology, it actually took longer to import the file than it did to fix those errors to the surfaces. That took all of one minute. The time savings using Solid Edge with synchronous technology are astounding.”
Faster to market
Energist uses Solid Edge simulation technology to quickly evaluate real-world performance issues such as how a temperature change (a drop from ambient temperature to 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in a hand piece will affect the material it would be made of. According to Thomas, the ability to answer questions such as these using software has eliminated the need for at least one physical prototype during the new product development process. The increased accuracy as a result of working with Solid Edge also helps reduce the number of prototypes required. “Using imported data from other manufacturers allows our digital assemblies to be pinpoint accurate, and in general, only one prototype is needed now, if we need one at all,” Thomas says.
The combination of a faster design process, faster ECO process and fewer physical prototypes allows Energist to get new products to market faster than it could previously. According to Thomas, it previously took up to 18 months to bring one of the company’s systems to market. Today, that happens in only 3 months. “This is purely due to synchronous design principles,” Thomas says.
In fact, Thomas believes that in addition to being a much better approach for modifying existing CAD data, synchronous technology represents the future of CAD technology. “If you are a serious CAD designer and you want longevity in this business, you should seriously consider moving to Solid Edge with synchronous technology,” he concludes.