The 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systemes is a solution that CATI customer Acer Technologies seemed to have sought after since their inception. “When I started about 11 years ago, I wanted Acer to be a virtual company. No server to host, no office, can work whenever, however, from anywhere. My mission statement was essentially to be an extension of a company’s engineering department.” says JP Judge, Owner of Acer Technologies. “3DEXPERIENCE has allowed us to be the virtual company we initially desired to be.”
Acer’s main core business is electrical enclosures, both design and engineering. “I initially thought electrical enclosures were just big, simple boxes but they’re not. Some of them are really complex and we must meet various requirements for each customer.” JP states. The more they saw variation in customer design and documentation, the more Acer became a jack-of-all-trades with their SOLIDWORKS services. Acer primarily utilizes SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal, Electrical, Drawings, Flow Analysis, and then 3DEXPERIENCE to manage everything. In some cases, they use Model Based Definition for documentation and SOLIDWORKS Composer to create animations of how customer assemblies are built to work. While their ability to pivot workflows from customer-to-customer allows them to blend in like a chameleon, the nucleus of the operation lies within 3DEXPERIENCE.
While initially choosing whether to use 3DEXPERIENCE or continue with SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, the reasons Acer was looking at replacing PDM were to have a cloud-based solution, the freedom from being tied to a server and having to connect to a VPN. “We made the decision to go with 3DEXPERIENCE. Now, if I want to go anywhere, I’m able to get all of Acer’s and our customer’s documents as long as I have my laptop and an internet signal.” JP explains “We could never fully do that with PDM. A VPN provided a partial fix, but we could not get to our full design standards, drafting standards, or view our ISO documentation. Now that’s all fully possible.”
Once Acer was up and running, it did not take them long to take advantage of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. They began using it to estimate and quote jobs to be able to lay out all the tasks in the project planner. Shortly after it started being used on some small projects for managing CAD Data in the PLM side of the software. Now Acer are using it for all their projects with every customer going into 3DEXPERIENCE. They are managing our files out of it, doing collaboration out of it, and have all design, ISO documentation and task management stored and running.
While this may seem like a large transition for a company to make, JP noted it has been a smooth one overall. “We’re still really new to 3DEXPERIENCE but I feel like we’ve picked it up quick because we’ve had excellent support from the CATI team to get us up and running. Working with CATI has been great. From our interaction with both Sales and Support, the CATI Team knows and understands our pains. I feel like they are looking out for us. We don’t have a typical customer-supplier relationship, we have similar goals as we work together, and it feels like more of a partnership between Acer and CATI.”
While using SOLIDWORKS and 3DEXPERIENCE can be accredited for a portion of Acer’s success, everyone around them using SOLIDWORKS has truly allowed them to shine. “I’d say 90% of our customers are SOLIDWORKS users. This absolutely makes things easier and is almost necessary. You can take data from another CAD system, but it is not as easy. When customers send us parts, they can still be imported into SOLIDWORKS but some features may be lost so it’s not the best way to do things. For us to be efficient, it’s almost necessary for both our customers and us to both be using SOLIDWORKS.” It is not just customers, either. JP has built a network of SOLIDWORKS users that allow him to scale up and glide from project-to-project seamlessly. “Over the years our workforce has changed to help whoever, however. I have a group of skilled SOLIDWORKS users who can jump on projects quickly, increasing bandwidth as needed. We also employ a small team of high school interns. They have been able to take these tools and run with them within a few months. They are managing SOLIDWORKS, creating drawings, utilizing 3DEXPERIENCE, using PDM to put their drawings in the system. It seems to come easy to them. None of them were using SOLIDWORKS or any of these tools before joining our team. It’s pretty exciting to see it picked up so quickly.”
Acer continues to find ways to grow with SOLIDWORKS and the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. A recent project related to the COVID-19 pandemic saw Acer’s quick response to get the finished product in the hands of the customer. “One of my long-term customers, a sheet metal fabrication shop, sent me info about a hot project related to a component needed for mobile hospitals” explains JP. “We were asked to reverse engineer an enclosure in less than one week. We found that none of the data provided by the client was correct. We had to start from scratch and look at different suppliers. The reverse engineering was all done using the Sheet Metal tools in SOLIDWORKS. Our client uses SOLIDWORKS, so we will be able to export a DXF for them to create fabrication drawings off the new data. The urgency for this is continually changing but they still want the option to build so they can create these mobile hospitals, as necessary.”
Leveraging SOLIDWORKS with the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform is helping Acer Technologies be the virtual business they sought to be when starting out eleven years ago. It has given their engineers the power to collaborate internally and with clients as well as the ability to respond quickly to customer’s needs, even turning around a project in less than one week. To learn more about Acer Technologies and how they can help your organization, visit https://www.acertechonline.com/ today.
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Computer Aided Technology, Inc.