New design approach opens new markets
Solid Edge enables the design of energy-efficient, compact heaters with contemporary styling
Keeping big spaces warm
Winterwarm BV, which was established more than 70 years ago, manufactures direct air heaters for large spaces such as industrial halls, warehouses and sports facilities. With a staff of 55 people, 35 of whom work in production and four in R&D, the company has a yearly output of 6,000 products. These include simple systems for spaces starting from 400 cubic meters (about 14,000 cubic feet) with a price tag of as little as 1,500 Euros (approximately $2,100 US) to large installations or system combinations that can cost tens of thousands of Euros. Winterwarm has its own sales offices in France, the UK and Poland and distributors in most other European countries. Approximately 65 percent of the company’s production is exported.
Winterwarm’s production is influenced by the seasons. In the spring and summer,work focuses on stock and the production staff works shorter hours. This is all over as soon as the cold and wet seasons return. Production is scaled up to two shifts per day to keep delivery times short. New product development is based on trends and market developments identified by the company. One of these is the growing demand for energy efficiency in the face of global climate change.“For us this is a reason to work even harder to build high efficiency heating systems,” says Winterwarm R&D manager, Michel Fiselier. “These types of systems have been used widely among consumers, but are not yet the norm in the industrial markets. Efficiency is dependent on the design of the burner and heat exchanger in particular, and this is our strength.” Winterwarm’s products are strictly regulated and require expensive and thorough testing and certification procedures.
2D was growing cold
Until mid-2006, Winterwarm used AutoCAD Light to develop new products. “During the development of our new XR Series and its spin-off the HR Series, we were confronted with the real disadvantages of 2D design,” explains Fiselier. Winterwarm outsources some of its design work to a local engineering company that uses the Solid Edge® CAD system from Siemens PLM Software. This company had turned the XR Series into a beautiful, compact installation.WhenWinterwarm reached the point where it wanted to bring 3D design capabilities in-house, it chose Solid Edge as its own design system, purchasing the software from the local Solid Edge supplier, CAAP.
Since the introduction of Solid Edge, all new projects are done in Solid Edge. Previous products are not converted from 2D although when necessary, old 2D data is adapted using the Solid Edge 2D functionality. Design management is based on a directory structure that will be modified within the near future. “In spite of the limited time that we spend on design activities, we want to bring about a management environment that is less dependent on individuals,” explains Fiselier. “We also want to achieve more structure in the designs and models and to increase the use of standard parts. This is especially important for standard parts connected to gas installations because of their very strict requirements. Winterwarm must be able to indicate which part is to be used in certain ranges of installations.”
How all this will happen is still being discussed with CAAP, but one of the attractive options is to use Solid Edge Insight™. To this end, component properties are already being entered into Solid Edge designs so that they can be imported quickly into the database at a later stage.
New designs open new markets
The Solid Edge data is increasingly used in communications with internal production and suppliers. “In the past we would read data off the AutoCAD drawing, which could contain errors,” says Fiselier. “Since the introduction of Solid Edge, the number of errors has been reduced.” Whenever possible, 3D Solid Edge data is also the means of communication with the external companies that supply machining services.
“Due to all the combined benefits of 3D and Solid Edge, time to market time has been hugely reduced, something that otherwise would have been possible only at a much higher cost,” says Fiselier.“Another advantage is the ability to create products that are both compact and aesthetically pleasing, such as our XR heaters, which are giving us access to new, non-industrial markets. This is an invaluable benefit from Solid Edge that we had not expected.”
“We have benefited from every advantage that everyone claims with regard to 3D,” concludes Fiselier. “From faultless products, to a strong reduction in the work preparation lead time, to the commercial benefits of attractive images and control of production.With hindsight, we should have converted to Solid Edge much sooner.”