Increasing product safety in winch design
Machinefabriek EMCÉ achieves optimal designs through digital simulation
Mastering the contradictions of winch design
Winches are tailor-made products that require a lot from engineering and production. Faced with highquality requirements and short lead times, engineering must be efficient. In spite of the considerable variation in products, production must yield as many standard components as possible. These are the contradictions that Machinefabriek EMCÉ has mastered.
Based in Voorhout, the Netherlands, Machinefabriek EMCÉ specializes in providing winches and capstans to a worldwide customer base. As part of the Stokvis Holding group, EMCÉ boasts 80 years of experience in developing and producing these high-quality custom-made products. The Stokvis Group includes nine technical companies with a total workforce of 300 employees; it is active in drive technology, transport equipment, winches, services and controls.
“The strength of the Stokvis Group lies in custom-made technical products,” says Remko van Dijk, head of Engineering at Machinefabriek EMCÉ. “There is intense collaboration between the companies within the group. Flexibility and delivery reliability allows us to order a lot of semifinished products.”
Many different products
There is a great deal of variation in the application of winches. Naturally, the marine and offshore sector is an important market for EMCÉ, but the automotive sector also uses winches, and so do various elements of the Dutch armed forces. In these instances, EMCÉ supplies winches for typical ship functions such as pulling up anchor chains, moving Apache helicopters and supporting both people and vehicles such as army jeeps. Its winches can also be used for special projects like building Ferris wheels for the entertainment industry. Similarly, the company’s winches are used as an auxiliary device in activities that require a hoisting function, such as transporting goods and people.
“Machinefabriek EMCÉ serves a worldwide market with its winches,” explains Van Dijk. “We have our own sales and dealers in nearly every European country and on almost all the continents. The sales department is technically focused and, in close cooperation with the customer, it plays an important part in establishing the specifications of a desired winch.”
Particular types of winches are defined by their specifications, including the winch’s strength, speed and cable work length.
“The standard winches in our catalog provide the starting point for the customer’s winch,” says Van Dijk. “Out of the 1,500 winches that leave our factory every year, 85 percent are more or less tailor made. If the winch differs greatly from the standard, then we start from scratch. However, we try to re-use as much as possible to be able to offer keen prices and short delivery times.”
This is because EMCÉ has an additional internal advantage when it uses known parts whose quality is guaranteed. Since the company has experience using these parts, its costs remain low and the quality of its winches remains high. In addition, EMCÉ realizes 85 percent of its revenues internationally, which according to Van Dijk, constitutes another incentive to make product safety as high as possible.
With Solid Edge – quality and speed
In order to reach a high level of re-use, Van Dijk decided almost immediately to introduce a 3D application. “I was an early 3D user and realized that a 2D environment would not be able to meet our objectives in terms of re-use, shorter lead times and increased quality. In consultation with new colleagues, we opted for Siemens’ Solid Edge® software, which enjoyed an excellent reputation among those concerned and still does after 10 years; among other things, that’s in part thanks to CADCenter BV, our own supplier in Bergambacht.”
Daniël Schuiling is one of the company’s engineers who uses Solid Edge. “We consider building up and maintaining our library with modules and standard parts to be essential.When we get an assignment, based on the standard, we ascertain which parts can be used to build the winch in the best possible way to meet the customer’s specifications.We build the model in Solid Edge from the bottom up just as we do it in the factory.”
The engineers use library components to do their work faster. “For the factory or the suppliers, it does not matter so much what the dimensions of a construction are,” explains Schuiling. “Basically, the constructions are similar and this (the library) is what produces the advantage in quality and lead times.”
With Femap – “always sized correctly”
When constructions strongly deviate from the standard because of special specifications, EMCÉ becomes especially aware of the legal requirements imposed on lifting and hoisting devices.
“Being able to document calculations is paramount in our industry,” says Van Dijk. “As soon as a construction deviates and can no longer be calculated reliably by hand, we switch over to Femap™ software, which we acquired from Femto Engineering, a Delft-based Femap specialist. We keep manual calculations handy though, as it is still the best way to keep in touch with the construction.”
Femap is mainly used to dimension the construction before its application to the calculations that will be documented. “Solid Edge and the integration with Femap constitute an ideal combination to design efficient construction,” according to Van Dijk. “Thanks to the fast iterations, it is now possible to have the correct material cross-sections in the right place. A construction is always sized correctly. The design becomes more accurate while its material handling is as efficient as possible.”
When EMCÉ engineers want to proceed even faster, they create a wireframe model of the construction in Femap. Accordingly to the company’s engineers, this approach enables incredibly fast calculations. From Van Dijk’s perspective, Femap provides “really terrific” flexibility when it is combined with Solid Edge. “This allows us to do calculations that are otherwise unthinkable.”
At EMCÉ, production and subcontractor monitoring is based on 2D drawings. “Those drawings also include processing instructions,” says Daniël Schuiling. “We work with assembly drawings as much as possible where the dimensions have been recorded.We buy the cut parts, but we produce most of the other components in-house.We have our own lathe, which can process these work pieces up to a diameter of two meters. Moreover, we have the necessary CNC and conventionally controlled machine tools in our factory, the new 5-axis milling machine being the state-of-the-art in this respect.”
This 5-axis milling machine is programmed on the machine. “The components are not complex as regards their shape,” says Schuiling. “Efficiency was the main reason for this purchase.We save a lot of time by carrying out several operations in the same fixture.”
Seamless transfer of parts list to ERP
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is part of the company’s program for the short-term. Solid Edge plays a vital role in providing information for the new system. “When we were compiling the library, we already entered all the component specifications,” Van Dijk explains. “All of the properties of the parts have already been entered as standard in Solid Edge by the engineers. This makes it possible to directly and seamlessly transfer the parts list to ERP. This takes place right when the drawings are ready. Everything can be purchased at once or sent to the production units. This significantly improves efficiency.”
PLM – a commercial asset
EMCÉ is very aware of the communications advantages it receives from 3D design. The improved insight in the construction was a strong argument in favor of investing in Solid Edge. The company also leverages the power of 3D representations outside of its engineering operations.
“As soon as we had Solid Edge in-house, we made very conscious use of its added valued in our communications,” Van Dijk says. “The sales department uses Solid Edge representations on a large scale and we quickly resorted to Solid Edge to present the company’s capabilities on our website, among other places.”