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B&P Littleford LLC designs and custom builds a wide spectrum of mixing, drying, extruding, compounding, reacting and centrifugal separation equipment for large- and small-scale manufacturing applications for the chemical markets. The company develops and manufactures compounding and mixing systems, chemical extraction and separation equipment and associated process solutions tailored to client applications worldwide
B&P Littleford LLC designs and custom builds a wide spectrum of mixing, drying, extruding, compounding, reacting and centrifugal separation equipment for large- and small-scale manufacturing applications and associated process solutions for chemical markets.
Mechanical engineers make up a big part of the company, and most departments are run by engineers. They work on components that range in size from something that could sit on a kitchen table to items that could be the size of a large conference room or a small house, ranging from about 20- to 25-feet tall and 50- to 60-feet long, and weighing up to 90 tons.
The biggest challenge for B&P Littleford was delivering designs on time. It has projects for different types of machinery so design drawings must be released in a clean, concise manner without having to make excessive engineering change orders (ECOs). They need to avoid correcting designs because they went too fast and made mistakes while being innovative. That’s always the challenge: speeding up the process and becoming more efficient while still maintaining some creativity and innovation.
B&P Littleford had been using SOLIDWORKS® software, but decided to consider switching to Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Solid Edge® software.
“I would say that when you’ve been dealing with a particular software for years and years – in my case, SOLIDWORKS – you can develop an almost religious devotion to it, but if you really say to yourself, ‘be truthful, be objective,’ maybe you’ll be surprised with Solid Edge,” says Scott Samborn, senior mechanical design engineer. “Solid Edge with synchronous technology turned out to be wonderful. It caused a complete shift in my way of thinking.”
B&P Littleford uses Solid Edge to bring in its SOLIDWORKS data. The company hopes to continue to be able to seamlessly use legacy data developed from SOLIDWORKS and manipulate it quickly and efficiently for new projects.
“Solid Edge with synchronous technology gives us more flexibility, but we can go back to ordered if we want, and we can also switch over to synchronous and use it to help speed things up,” says Brian Fritz, engineering supervisor at B&P Littleford. “We’re seeing there might be some other aspects that we can use synchronous for, such as a sales or marketing tool to come up with designs quickly in order to generate proposals for customers."
“We can bring in and manipulate our SOLIDWORKS files or any other CAD system and recognize some of the features within it.” Fritz explains, “We can turn a ‘dumb solid’ into a more intelligent model that can be manipulated and easily adjusted and modified to the new design that we need for our machines.”
B&P Littleford has found components that normally would take a couple of hours to remodel from scratch can now be done in five, 10 or 15 minutes with Solid Edge. The company also discovered when to leverage synchronous and when to use ordered. At first the engineers weren’t sure how synchronous could help them with their complicated geometry. However, they soon realized that for 80 percent of the components, synchronous can cut the development time in half or more.
Additionally, B&P Littleford found there were two good ways to migrate data. The engineers can take a SOLIDWORKS file, change the file type, open up the components and it will automatically translate that data. Or, they can migrate data in a big batch rather than opening documents file by file. They can use the Solid Edge migration tool to go from Pro/E® software, AutoCAD® software or SOLIDWORKS, and simply select a batch of files that they want to migrate all at once. The tool facilitates batch converting and migrating solid models or drawings from one system over to Solid Edge.
“Using Solid Edge gives us the ability to migrate our models as well as our drawings and maintain associativity between the models and the drawings,” says Fritz. “It is able to go through and intelligently recognize the dimensions, and that they belong to certain edges and features within the model and can reattach themselves and re-establish an associativity between the drawings and the models. That will give us something that will allow us to migrate much of our data from other CAD systems.” Fritz notes, “Using synchronous technology will allow us to quickly make faster and more frequent design iterations.”
“It was quite a revelation for me to discover that switching to Solid Edge was really going to be advantageous to our company,” says Samborn.
“We really like the ability to perform a full analysis on our components and equipment as needed,” says Fritz. “Sometimes we have the requirement or need to run a simulation on a gear box housing to ensure that we’ve got the proper gussets and structure; that it will handle the loads and forces and torques that it’s going to see. Sometimes we’re running finite element analyses on our centrifuges that are running at a few thousand RPMs, and we want to make sure those speeds and forces aren’t going to cause a shaft deflection that could cause some interference.”