Case Study

Becoming a time-saving part of the client’s value chain

Van Dijk 3D Engineering

NX is the preferred system because it has the best performance

Part of the value chain

Van Dijk 3D Engineering BV, founded in 2000, specializes in the design and engineering of consumer and medical products. “While we don’t limit ourselves to this type of work, most of our work in these market areas is for such clients as Philips, ABB, Dräger Medical, Ball Packaging Europe and Ahrend,” explains Ron van Dijk, owner of Van Dijk 3D Engineering BV. “Within our field of activity, we have a specialization in plastics and combinations of different materials. This particular field has plenty of room for improvement and we are good at it.”

Outside design and engineering offices such as Van Dijk’s can accelerate the client’s development processes decisively but this requires tight integration in the client’s value chain, including its design and engineering software. Van Dijk 3D Engineering BV uses this as a business advantage.

The firm, which has grown to 12 people, started out using SolidWorks but has since upgraded to the NX™ digital product development system from Siemens PLM Software. “We began to do a great deal of work for Philips and that came with the expectation that we would work with the same software they were using,” Van Dijk explains. “That was a real eye-opener for us. A high-end application such as NX is often seen only as an expense and you use it only when the customer demands. By contrast, we adopted NX as our main system. The situation is now reversed because now we use SolidWorks only when the customer asks for it.”

Rapid concept development

Van Dijk notes that an application’s cost is not the decisive factor for him. He looks first at its returns. “We saw that, in practice, NX is more goal-oriented than competing packages,” he explains. “It offers many more paths to reach your goal, while in an analytically structured application such as SolidWorks, the paths are pre-set. If you can’t reach your goal through its pre-set rules, you have a problem.”

NX’s performance plays a major part in the company’s ranking head and shoulders above the competition. “Our returns from NX are noticeably greater than they are with the other applications we have in house,” Van Dijk adds. “That is why all our designers have NX with the Shape Studio styling module available at their desk.”

Van Dijk 3D Engineering’s customers engage the company both for new product designs and for the redesign of existing products. “When we carry out a client’s design assignment, we first make a number of suggestions based on the client, its product and its market to determine the direction for the design,” Van Dijk says. “After the customer has made its initial choices, we enter into a joint process to determine the final design together.”

That process uses a range of graphical software tools including NX Shape Studio. “We use NX Shape Studio in the early design phase to present the client with realistic images of design concepts,” Van Dijk explains. “Shape Studio is a perfect tool for this. It is very flexible and fast for creating and revising form-determinate geometry. It lets us use our time together with the customer optimally.”

Optimizing manufacturability

When a final design emerges at the end of such a session, Van Dijk 3D Engineering works that up into a mature product. In cases where Van Dijk is asked to make a design production-ready or to optimize an existing product, Van Dijk receives the approved design files from the client and his company’s designers and design engineers work it out from there.

Van Dijk’s specialty is taking specific account of the demands made by plastic products. “Producibility always takes precedence with us,” says Van Dijk. “As a consequence, the design itself is subordinate to this. A nice design that is poorly engineered and therefore difficult to make produces a bad product and no one wants that.” Product design and redesign are viewed at Van Dijk as opportunities to optimize assembly, or disassembly for maintenance, or mold production. Designs are adjusted where necessary to combine as many elements of producibility as possible.

One example of a Van Dijk redesign is the second-generation Philips Senseo automatic coffee maker. “By comparison with its first generation, we were able to reduce the number of parts drastically by redesigning the product,” Van Dijk notes. “The feasibility of all components was reviewed. Ultimately, we reached our goal with a high-quality product with fewer components that is easier to assemble. The design was adjusted slightly to follow production and assembly requirements. No one will notice these changes.”

According to Van Dijk, multinationals can drastically reduce product development time by using rapidreacting partners. “We have seen that a development time of about two years can be reduced to about one year,” he says. “Part of that development time is the lead times demanded by the discussion culture that dominates many large companies. In some cases, the discussion culture is not productive.”

Van Dijk certainly does not wish to imply that all discussion is superfluous. The company makes certain that there is sufficient internal consultation so that any problems are resolved and are not left unaddressed. “I want our staff to communicate among themselves to discuss draft designs and work out any tricky points,” Van Dijk says. “This must have a short cycle and be goal-oriented to prevent endless discussion. This sort of discussion does contribute to results.We have a separate room for this where projections of NX models provide a concrete basis for discussions.” Periodic consultations with the client are best held in person. “These usually are discussions in which it is important to have direct contact with the client,” Van Dijk adds.

Design freedom with NX

The freedom that NX offers designers also contributes, in Van Dijk’s opinion, to this short turnaround time. “The sheer quantity of design options makes it possible to reach the intended goal much faster than would be possible with the analytical modelers,” he says. “This enables us to create geometry faster and process revisions more efficiently. Also, the techniques for conducting design controls are quite extensive. These often reduce the need for physical models.”

Van Dijk’s staff develops designs through the drawing stage with the shape and dimensional tolerances needed for mold construction. “With our focus on efficient production, everything is worked out in detail based on our knowledge both of product development and production,” Van Dijk says. “If desired, that can include mold flow analysis, stiffness, strength and heat calculations. And as needed, we can also provide consulting and production management starting from the mold through to the subcontracting of the injection molding work within and outside Europe.”

Van Dijk constantly monitors his company’s development and organizational manageability. Twelve people now work for Van Dijk 3D Engineering, but that number will increase.While NX does not demand it, Van Dijk sees the growth of his company leading at some time to an investment in product data management software. “I want to exclude risks that would have negative consequences for our clients and that are the effect of reduced manageability,” Van Dijk notes. “Such an investment must contribute to process management and to lead times. Because, next to the quality of our work, our shorter lead times are our most important competitive edge. And we want to keep it that way.”

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