Making the right impression
Automation Systems & Integration
Small company uses Solid Edge as a selling tool and wins business worldwide
Automation Systems & Integration Inc. specializes in the field of industrial marking, which is the process of adding serial numbers, product logos and other identifying marks to products through the use of technologies such as lasers, stylus marking machines and electrochemical etching.“In today’s competitive marketplace, product marking is an increasingly important factor in a company’s profile,” explains David Gibson, president of Automation Systems.“Marking must be of the highest quality, both for establishing a company’s image as well as for positive identification.”
Industrial marking machines can operate in a standalone fashion or can be integrated into production processes. Automation Systems, an eight-person, privately owned company, designs and manufactures both kinds of marking systems. Since its inception in 2003, Automation Systems has supplied marking systems for companies around the world, including large manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.
Importance of image
Every job the company takes on is unique.“Each machine is tailored to the customer’s individual specifications. So each one is a custom design,” Gibson says. Although Gibson had used SolidWorks with a previous employer, when he founded Automation Systems, he decided to switch to the Solid Edge design solution from Siemens PLM Software.
He says Solid Edge® is a big reason why Automation Systems has been able to win as much business as it has over the years, even though the company competes against much larger operations.“With Solid Edge, I present a level of professionalism that I need to contend against big companies,” says Gibson, who until recently handled both design and sales duties at his company.“Image is everything, and the 3D visualizations I create with Solid Edge allow me to present a very good image.”
Deep design functionality
Gibson is completely self-taught on Solid Edge.“I thought it would be hard to switch (from SolidWorks), but Solid Edge’s functionality is better, and in general the program is better organized,” he notes. He values the support he gets from his local Solid Edge reseller, DesignFusion, as well as the Siemens technical support, Global Technical Access Center (GTAC).“Support is my safety belt and it is well worth the investment,” he says.“Customers with one seat of Solid Edge get the support just as if they had 100 seats.”
Although Gibson learned to use Solid Edge without any formal training, he recognizes that there’s much more to the program that he could learn, if he had time.“Solid Edge is like an iceberg. There’s so much potential,” he says. For example, he would like to learn to use the software’s photorealistic rendering capability, and when he has time, he plans to implement wire harness design functionality.
But in the meantime, Gibson keeps doing what works, which is to create winning sales presentations based on Solid Edge 3D assembly models. His approach differs from that of the competition in that his sales presentations provide much more information.“In the quotation stage, others give a rough outline of the machine and the cost,” he says.“With Solid Edge, I’m able to present a deep level of detail. Prospective customers can see what the machine is going to do and how it will fit into their process. I can even give them the virtual viewer and send them my 3D file. They can rotate it, zoom in on areas and so on. It’s very effective.”
Because of the detail that Gibson puts into the sales presentations, when Automation Systems wins an order, much of the work of designing the system has already been done. The extensive part library that Gibson has created in Solid Edge speeds the process of creating the detailed design. Producing the system and integrating it into the customer’s process is usually trouble-free, thanks to the accuracy of designing this equipment in 3D.“We built a system for a company in Germany, and we worked over the Internet to design it. I was using Solid Edge and they were using Pro/Engineer,” Gibson recalls.“When our system arrived in Germany, it bolted together perfectly.”
Gibson gives Solid Edge much of the credit for Automation Systems’ ability to win $2.5 million worth of business in the last three years. And big orders keep coming in.“We do good work, and we present ourselves professionally,” he concludes.“And the other ingredient is Solid Edge. Everyone in the industry recognizes Solid Edge. Even if they don’t use it, they know they can share data with it.”