Advanced technologies as a way to business success
Solid Edge facilitates faster design and lower development costs
Akvatis Ltd. of Novocheboksarsk was established in 2006 by a group of highly experienced chemical machinery designers. The primary business of the small and steady growing company is development of construction documents and design estimates for sewage construction. The experts at Akvatis Ltd. perform the entire cycle of construction documents and design documentation development for non-standard equipment.
The basic design areas are urban and countryside sewage and treatment facilities, facilities for collecting rain and melt water, water supply points and water purification facilities for household and industrial water supply and purification facilities for industrial closed-loop water supply systems.
Akvatis Ltd. designs treatment facilities of strictly specified productivity. The client gets modern technology with minimal capital development and low energy consumption.
Looking for a general-purpose design tool
Since the very entering the construction design market Akvatis management realized the need for computer-aided design solutions. Akvatis director Alexey Balyasnikov tells about the company’s way to 3D modeling.
“Transferring to modern design technologies for us was not just a fashion trend but a tool that would help cutting prices for the clients,” Alexey says. “The treatment facilities construction market is a highly competitive one, and each company chooses its own approach to entering it and developing the business.We decided that saving the client’s money would be our advantage. To implement such an approach we had to significantly, by several fold, cut down our development costs. It was a very important but not the only condition.”
The number of employees at Akvatis may not exceed 15. It means that every person should either work on several projects at once or should has a tool that helps developing the current project as fast as possible including handling the possible design changes if they are necessary. The natural solution was implementing modern CADs that generate drawings automatically.
“So we faced the issue of selecting a general-purpose design tool,” continues Alexey Balyasnikov. “We considered Solid Edge® software and Plant 4D. The trial operation revealed that Plant 4D offers a cumbersome feature parameters input interface that significantly complicates the designer’s work. Besides the system uses AutoCAD as a primary graphics tool and purchasing it was a prerequisite. Solid Edge from Siemens PLM Software features many advantages compared to the competitor. The decisive factors that made us select Siemens PLM Software were minimal learning time and reasonable pricing for the core software suite.”
Solid Edge: learning, using, creating
The first two projects already returned the investments due to higher productivity and simultaneous learning and doing the real tasks. “As we learned we noted that novice users go deeper and often find extra features and functionality,” recalls Balyasnikov.
The learning was fast and efficient. “We got an excellent tool for all our processes,” Alexey thinks. “Solid Edge is the application we’ve been looking for. It implements our design intent. First we develop the models of the machinery, standard and non-standard units. Then a 3D assembly of the entire site is made including the building, the foundation, the metal structures, the piping. Then it is “subdivided” by the experts into domains and the construction documentation is developed.”
In Balyasnikov’s opinion, the more they use Solid Edge the more advantages they find. First, a model of a unit or a machinery assembly can be used in downstream processes by any designer. Besides, if a certain pump, tailgate, etc. is not on the database a designer in half an hour creates a model with all the necessary port sizes and the model becomes available for the current and future projects. All this significantly reduces development times.
Second, now there are much less design errors and mismatches. Visualization of machinery layout and pipes helps avoiding collisions and intersections. An accurate 3D mockup with all the communications shown alloys for exact calculation of the metal structures and pipes weight, number of fasteners, flanges, gaskets, etc.
Third, with Solid Edge modifying a model is a simple and easy procedure since changes are automatically transferred to the drawings.
Using assemblies of large machinery units it is possible to “put the blocks together” and develop a new layout in just one day. After that the communications are traced, the equipment foundations and pipe holders are installed. The model is now ready to produce the working drawings. The designers working in other domains now do their job: design the ventilation, heating, lighting, power equipment, etc.
Besides as a model is developed the BOMs listing the equipment, the products and the materials specifying the exact number and weight are easily created.
It is also highly important that the 3D modeler creates drawings automatically giving the designer more time for creativity. “We’ve discovered that observing the new users who after developing a model made all the projections and isometric views,” says Balyasnikov. “Literally in real time the designer grows from being just a tiny part of a huge mechanism into a real maker. The employees develop a wish to create, they have now more time to reconsider the decisions they make and to estimate more design options. They want to make the design better, more optimal and more attractive. And while doing this they do not bother about the previously created or future drawings since all the updates are automatic.”
CAD as a competitive weapon
“Solid Edge’s deployment immediately yielded positive results,” Alexey Balyasnikov emphasizes. “The most significant one is drastic design time reduction. At present any construction involves private investors or bank loans so the clients want fast return on the investments. Faster design time both accelerates the construction’s completion and cuts down the design costs where the designers’ remuneration make up a large part. The conventional design time implies that the client pays for half a year of designers’ work while with modern 3D modeling technologies the time is just 2.3 months.
Exact BOMs for the metal structures, the pipes, the fittings, the fasteners, etc. also save the client’s money. The machinery’s known extents and weight help calculate loads when developing the construction domain. It also provides for some savings of construction materials. Using the non-standard equipment models the designers can develop projects for the contractor much faster and the machinery would get to the site much earlier.
The keys to success at Akvatis as it director believes are: investments into advanced software and reliable hardware and unconventional labor management solutions. Presently the company rents a small office that accommodates only the top specialists. “Others work at home and do not spend time on daily trips to the office and back,” explains Alexey. “Of course they are independent to some degree within their domains and they realize the responsibility for the design quality. Modern communications help solve any issues in real time.”
Another outcome of CAD implementation is a professional growth of Akvatis engineers. Human resources are still the most important ones, the company’s management believes. A person’s involvement into a creative process heightens the employee’s efficiency and facilitates professional growth. It, in its turn, leads to more projects and more revenues. “Job motivation is increased thanks to the person’s new status: not just a rank-and-file executive, but a creator,” Balyasnikov says. Besides, having a digital mockup the designer perfectly visualizes the project and the manager knows for sure that any errors and mismatches would be corrected in time.
“Implementation of modern CAD systems is our primary competitive advantage,” believes the Akvatis director. “Using it we shorten design times and enhance quality, thus, we save the client’s money. It matches our basic principle of market operations. Work-for-result, optimism and effective job management lead us to business success.”