Sutphen Corporation – Setting the standard for the fire apparatus industry


Sutphen sets the standard for engineering excellence, technology, innovation, and durability in the fire apparatus industry. Sutphen was founded in 1890; making it the oldest continuously owned and operated fire apparatus manufacturer in the country.  Never reorganized, owned, or operated by anyone other than a Sutphen, the family atmosphere is unmistakable.

Sutphen produces all types of fire related vehicles on their own chassis including the usual engines, ladders, tankers, and rescues but also provides bodies for commercial chassis applications. The company strictly produces mid-mount aerials as a tower ladder platform (with a bucket/basket), and mid or rear-mount in a ladder tower form (no bucket), plus industrial application aerials.  All Sutphen aerials are made of Aluminum alloys and fastened with aircraft-type Huck Bolts.  The hydraulics are custom designed and built by the company for their applications.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical at Sutphen

Sutphen chose SOLIDWORKS Electrical because they are always looking to continuously innovate for the fire apparatus market. They feel SOLIDWORKS Electrical is the new design tool for them to modernize their innovation methods and help them maintain the premier status in the market while helping them do top-of-the-line customization to their trucks.

Before SOLIDWORKS Electrical they were using another tool from Dassault Systems, DraftSight. They liked DraftSight but wanted more automation. SOLIDWORKS Electrical deliver reports and tables that previously had to be updated manually.

Their main goal is to take a highly customized advanced system and make it simple so their technicians in the service departments can easily debug them. Having SOLIDWORKS Electrical helps them do just that. It generates the reports and gets the origins and destinations for each connection so when they troubleshoot or need instructions for new technicians the information is there. The reports are essential. They tell the collaborators, the other people working on the file, and the technicians, where to begin when picking up the design.

One example of an improvement from using SOLIDWORKS Electrical is called the reconfigurable electrical platform. It uses several relays and circuits, and they needed a platform that had a nice sealed watertight box that can be pre-ordered as an assembly. The boxes are manufactured by a partner and they send the prints to the manufacturer right out of SOLIDWORKS Electrical.


“The supplier is very satisfied with the deliverables and can build exactly what we had in mind. The documentation is very thorough and precise. We are looking forward to getting everything into SOLIDWORKS PDM so that the electrical and mechanical data can live side-by-side. That is going to be a huge payoff,” said Robert Pancoast, Electrical Systems Engineer.

“3DVision Technologies is always there for us. Whether we are rolling out new software, updating software, or have questions with our vault, we consult with 3DVision for our support. I personally have worked with the SOLIDWORKS Electrical engineer to help set up our origin and destination reports,” Pancoast added

Sutphen is looking forward to the day when they can start to reuse existing designs and get all their existing harnesses, hundreds of them, modeled in SOLIDWORKS Electrical. They have only been using SOLIDWORKS Electrical for about seven months now and have already seen reduction in their design times.


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