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Laborex improves flexibility and quality with Solid Edge
Industrial cleaning usually takes place as part of a production process and applies to a variety of parts. The solutions combine standard machines and custom-made developments. Flexibility, lead times and quality are always top priorities. A challenge that Laborex has taken on with Solid Edge® software.
A number of technologies are available for industrial cleaning. The application depends on the product that requires cleaning. Complex components such as cylinder blocks require so-called flood washers which use high pressure to flush cleaning products through the component. Less complex components can be cleaned with an immersion rinsing machine. In this case, the parts are placed in a lattice basket which is repeatedly plunged into the cleaning liquid. The blasting cabinets are mainly used in the repair of components which involves restoring the original surface. “The customer’s specific situation is always the starting point of the technology that is applied,” explains Laborex BVBA Managing Director Luc Kuysters. “Obviously, we also have standard machines in our product portfolio, but the customer’s logistics generally require a specially-adapted product, which we naturally base on our standard machines as much as possible.”
With a workforce of 50 employees, Laborex is a major player in the area of industrial cleaning installations. Laborex is aided by two sister companies, i.e. FE+ which specializes in sheet-work and CTEC whose area of expertise is the development of industrial detergents. FE+ works for Laborex as well as other companies.
“We are successful because, together with our sister company FE+, we are large enough to have all production facilities in-house. This ensures faster delivery times,” adds Kuysters. “And Solid Edge Industrial equipment at the same time we are a bit more flexible than the global players who are too expensive for custom-made solutions.” The market where Laborex is active includes the Benelux, Germany and France. 15 percent of the company’s turnover is generated by the sale of standard equipment, while the remaining 85 percent is the result of custom-made solutions.
The customer’s request for more flexibility never implies that quality or lead time requirements should be lower.Operating mainly on the basis of custom-made solutions is no small challenge for a company. “Our starting point is always the customer’s situation. In addition to the characteristics of the product to be cleaned, this also includes logistical requirements,” says Kuysters. “We visit the customer in order to determine always on-site how the machine to be designed needs to fit in or be connected to the existing production cell.We then determine which cleaning process is the most suitable. A design is subsequently developed which serves as the basis of our offer.” Since Laborex has designed the machines along a modular format, for the most part the offer can be built on the various components which will later only require a relatively small number of adjustments. According to Kuysters, this approach plays a central part in the success of Laborex. “We are able to provide the customer with entirely specific solutions, while internally making use of parts of standard products. This allows us to actually exclude risks associated to development, costs and lead times. Testing helps identify the remaining unknown factors to ensure that we never deliver a machine that is not fully satisfactory.”
The purchase of Solid Edge in 2005 supports the approach chosen by Laborex. At the time the company assessed the most current 3D CAD applications and chose Solid Edge, particularly because of the quality of supplier Cadcenter and its user-friendly working method. “For us, the strong combination of mechanical and sheet work into one integrated application is a major advantage,” explains Kuysters. According to him, Solid Edge is already a necessity from a competitive point of view. “In the past few years the complexity of products has increased to such an extent that it is no longer possible to design them in 2D. For this reason alone the level of quality has increased dramatically with Solid Edge.” This is especially noticeable when the painted machine screen is delivered and assembled by FE+. “The production speed has significantly increased because the fit of the different components is perfect. A cap fits exactly. There is no need to drill or grind parts anymore to make them fit.”
Laborex plans the complete machine in Solid Edge which is available on four workstations. This is done in the smallest details, with the nozzle pipes for instance. In addition to the mechanical and sheet-working aspects, this also applies to all the provisions for the electrical installation. All cable bushings, ducts and other provisions for the tight and maintenance friendly assembly of the cabling is modelled beforehand. This presents advantages in the assembly process. Moreover, the machine looks neater. The whole production of parts is carried out in-house; only the painting process is outsourced. Mainly drawings are used in the control of production. “In our company, production control is based on 2D drawings. The parts to be machined are programmed on the bench. Control of the Trumpf laser cutting machine at FE+ is carried out directly from the three Solid Edge workstations.We do not use the Trumpf software for this, therfore data transfer is unnecessary.”
For the development of custom-made parts and adaptations of existing machines we can use the CAD files supplied to that effect by the customer. These are imported into the Solid Edge composition.Once the main modules have been placed first and adapted where necessary, a connection is made by developing the transport facilities. To simplify the design development process a library of the most used standard parts has been compiled over recent years. This allows us to model the whole installation within the context of the customer’s environment.”
Laborex is increasingly using Solid Edge to present projects to customers. According to Kuysters, “Photorealistic 3D images can be produced quickly in Solid Edge, which offers interesting commercial perspectives.” “For the customer, 3D information is much more valuable than 2D drawings. And for us, this means that the commercial process speeds up. Neat 3D images simply make more of an impact.” Kuysters intends to further strengthen this success by incorporating a 3D product configurator in the commercial process. This will allow a technical sales assistant to present a concept during meetings while making it understandable in spatial terms. Another innovation is the establishment of a link between engineering and logistics. “We want to reduce the transfer time while raising quality levels. This allows us to better manage the purchasing process and internal order process.” The link is set up directly between Solid Edge and the logistical system.
Looking back, Kuysters adds: “We have achieved much in the past years. Solid Edge has been very beneficial to us. Thanks to its user-friendly work method, we have been able to move to the next stage in a short time and to design using an entirely new 3D process.We can observe the differences in quality, lead times and costs. Now that a firm foundation has been laid down with Solid Edge, we are working towards reusing the data which is already available in order to optimism the industrial process even further. All in all a good investment.”
Keys To Success:
Client's Primary Business:
Laborex BVBA specializes in the development and production of both standard and custom-made industrial cleaners, cleaning plants, blasting cabinets, degreasers and systems for the surface treatment and degreasing of all kinds of parts.
"Now that a firm foundation has been laid down with Solid Edge, we are working towards re-using the data which is already available in order to optimism the industrial process even further. All in all a good investment."
"In the past few years the complexity of products has increased to such an extent that it is no longer possible to design them in 2D. For this reason alone the level of quality has increased dramatically with Solid Edge."
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