3D CAD SOLIDWORKS Case Study Arens Controls

Corporate Summary

Leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the heavy duty truck and highway construction and agriculture markets rely on ARENS Controls for by-wire control systems, power management technologies, and innovative operator interface solutions. Arens has extended its expertise in electromechanical controls to also become a leader in power management systems. This has enabled the company to play a major role in the fast-growing hybrid vehicles segment, providing advanced-power, electronic-drivetrain components and systems to hybrid vehicle manufacturers.

The Challenge

An important facet of Arens Controls product development is the creation of instructions for assembling its world-class controls and power management systems. Until recently, Arens Controls manufacturing engineers relied on digital photographs and word-processing tools to create instructions that document and support the assembly process. This approach had several drawbacks, according to Engineering Services Manager Joseph Stefinsky.

“Prior to using SOLIDWORKS Composer software, our manufacturing engineers used a manual process involving digital photographs manually integrated into a text document” Stefinsky explains. “This process was time-consuming and occurred at the end of the product development cycle. SOLIDWORKS Composer so ware allows us to create the assembly instructions concurrent with product development. SOLIDWORKS Composer has greatly decreased our time-to-market, a benefit for both Arens and our customers.”

Manufacturing Engineer Rob Schwartz concurs. “Trying to develop assembly instructions using a camera and Microsoft Word is not the most efficient approach. We build more than 2,500 products, and updating instructions using our previous process was very time-consuming. With SOLIDWORKS Composer, we can generate changes from models prior to production parts being available. This allows for assembly training to be prepared concurrently with product development and validation. Once the production components are in-house, we can immediately begin hands-on training of the production staff.”

The Solution

The solution was to leverage the company’s SOLIDWORKS design models to create high quality 2D and 3D imagery and illustrations—including interactive animations of assembly processes—to support assembly instruction development. “We discovered SOLIDWORKS Composer and believed it could improve efficiency and quality,” Stefinsky says.

Arens Controls implemented SOLIDWORKS Composer technical communications software to create assembly instructions for a new version of the T79XXX Shier for mining trucks. Schwartz says that by using SOLIDWORKS Composer to create assembly images and Microsoft Power Point to create the instructions, he didn’t have to wait for parts or assemblies and was able to work on the instructions immediately. He also was able to cut the time needed to complete the instructions by two-thirds.

Because SOLIDWORKS Composer lets users focus more on high-quality CAD renderings and animations, and less on photos and lengthy word descriptions, the software gives Arens Controls greater flexibility to complete instructions ahead of assembly and handle engineering change orders more efficiently. Stefinsky uses SOLIDWORKS Composer to create 3D interactive content from released SOLIDWORKS models, and engineers like Schwartz use it to create supporting visual content for assembly instructions.

SOLIDWORKS Composer allows our engineers to capture assembly visuals from any angle they want, resulting in more clarity, better understanding, and less guesswork,” Stefinsky notes. “With SOLIDWORKS Composer, our engineers can develop better assembly documentation as soon as a design is released, and respond to engineering change orders promptly, before a single part is built.

Summary and Metrics

  • Cut assembly instructions development timeby 66 percent
  • Pulled assembly documentation development earlier in the program by as much as a year
  • Minimized reliance on digital photography
  • Accelerated handling of design changes