Think your company is too small for hi-tech? Think again.
Nohr Pattern CAD/CAM Engineer, Jim Nohr, takes engineering technology very seriously, despite working for a company made-up of just eight employees. The family-owned pattern shop has spawned 25 years and two generations with the Nohr Family. Jim’s Dad runs the business and his Mom keeps the books. That leaves technological advances up to Jim.
“I’m the geek in the family, I guess,” Jim laughed, recalling how their company took shape nearly three decades ago. “When we saw the proliferation of CNC, and the proliferation of the PC, getting the machine tool and the CAM package in-house were key steps. But then choosing a CAD package was maybe even more important after the initial purchases of the machine tool and CAM software.”
Nohr noticed how much time they were using trying to make engineering changes to their customers’ part models, prompting them to investigate 3D solid modeling packages. They looked at ProEngineer, SolidEdge and SOLIDWORKS, and were already using SurfCAM as their CAM solution.
“SOLIDWORKS’ ease of use made it our #1 choice right away over ProEngineer and SolidEdge,” said Nohr. “Also, the easy translation between SurfCam and SOLIDWORKS told us that was the clear direction we needed to go.”
Nohr said they noticed a decrease in engineering design time almost immediately. “We started making profile gauges for a Tier 1 Automotive Supplier and when we started, it took us about 2 months to get proficient at making those. We were able to reduce our design time by 50% after switching to SOLIDWORKS. All we were given was the CAD geometry of the tube harness and we were able to quickly develop the gauge around the geometry.”
As far as the rapid prototyping side of their business is concerned, Nohr said their technology has enabled them to remain competitive in that arena. He said that upon receipt of a CAD model from a customer, they typically deliver castings in as little as a week or two.
“It’s all about time and dollars,” Nohr said of rapid prototyping. “With SOLIDWORKS, I can see a significant time savings over what I was doing in the past. I know that I have an advantage over the guys using ProEngineer; they tell me how hard it is to do core cavity work. With SOLIDWORKS, it’s a breeze.”
Nohr also obtained BlankWorks after a customer ran into an obstacle using ProE. They needed to take a completely non-planar part and turn it into a flat blank so a forging shop could cut the steel blanks.
“By using BlankWorks and the geometry of the part, I was able to develop blanks without any instruction in about 2 hours,” Nohr explained. “The salesman for the forging shop said that by using this process, we were able to reduce their lead time by up to 2 weeks.”
While it’s great to surround yourself with superior technology, it’s even better to couple that with like-minded people. Nohr said SOLIDWORKS has continued to do an excellent job of staying at the forefront of technology in the CAD/CAM field. He mentioned the value of the various enhancements introduced every year, with new releases of the software.
“It gives me that level of comfort to know they’re out there working for me, and that is very important,” said Nohr.
He also mentioned the value of partnering with CATI. From prompt technical support response to a highly professional sales staff, Nohr said CATI rises above many vendors in their field.
“Too many vendor reps like to sell the products they have to offer rather than listening to what the customer needs, and trying to fulfill those,” said Nohr. “With CATI’s level of professionalism, their sales and technical representatives want to understand what we do and provide us with the right solutions.”
Nohr also noted the importance of the value-added services that CATI provides, especially being the only person at his company with a focus on engineering technology. He mentioned the monthly Newsletters that provide industry news, information on current and new releases, including any good tips & tricks. He also tries to attend every SOLIDWORKS CATIpult session, and enjoys being able to interact with other SOLIDWORKS users.
“Events like CATI’s CATIpult Sessions are great for small businesses. It’s great for those users to get out, feel relaxed, and know that there are other people who have the same concerns and the same goals.”