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Case Study - Radio Flyer

logo_radioflyer.jpgThe Challenge
Radio Flyer is one of the most recognizable brand names in production today; an American icon for more than 90 years, Radio Flyer products fully encompass the wonders of childhood: beauty, simplicity, adventure and discovery.

Whether it was a Streak-O-Lite wagon showcased at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, or today’s Ultimate Canopy Steer & Stroll Trike, Radio Flyer’s Design Team is hard at work behind the scenes.

Vice President of Product Development, Tom Schlegel, outlined the most difficult demands his department faces today.

“The biggest challenge that we have is defining all of the details of a design within a short time frame,” explained Schlegel, who manages a dozen Project Mangers and Designers who also face other design obstacles, like complex shapes and surfaces, for example.

Schlegel described Radio Flyer’s hand-sculpting process of the past, and Product Development Manager Mark Johnson expounded on how SOLIDWORKS has improved their design process today.

“We design products for stamping, injection molding, blow molding, and casting,” Johnson said. “SOLIDWORKS provides our designers and engineers flexibility in the tools we need to most efficiently model a part. We can easily change the design to suit each manufacturing process as needed—this allows us to continue working as part of an iterative development process.”

Radioflyer_Assembly.jpgThe Solution
In partnering with Computer Aided Technology, Inc. (CATI) at the brink of the new millennium, Radio Flyer acquired SOLIDWORKS primarily due to its unparalleled ease-of-use and the growing demand for a 3D design platform.

“SOLIDWORKS has made it a lot easier to detail our designs so that we’re assured that the final product matches the original design intent,” said Schlegel. And the complex surfaces? “The advanced surfacing tools that SOLIDWORKS has added in recent releases have absolutely allowed us to do a better job of capturing those complex surfaces.”

Radio Flyer Designers have also incorporated the use of SOLIDWORKS Simulation and SOLIDWORKS Workgroup PDM into their processes. Schlegel said they have reduced part thickness and added ribs to certain parts to meet load requirements, but also to keep the part cost down. And while they are still rolling out SOLIDWORKS Workgroup PDM , Schlegel said he anticipates that keeping their solid models organized and controlling revisions will be a big benefit to their ever-growing Product Development staff.

However, while obtaining superior design, analysis, and data management tools is one thing, learning how to use these tools to optimize your investment is another. Radio Flyer has partnered with CATI to ensure their designers are properly skilled.

“It has been very helpful for our Team to get training through CATI, especially to help jumpstart our young, graduate engineers,” said Schlegel, who understands the importance of maintaining his department’s talent.

With the recent purchase of a Custom CATalyst NOW Training Bundle, Radio Flyer will continue to equip its engineers with superior, best-practice SOLIDWORKS training at CATI’s state-of-the-art training facility in Buffalo Grove, IL.

The Summary

  • Adheres to a stringent 12-month development cycle
  • Able to define details of complex surfaces and parts using actual 3D geometry
  • Utilizes SOLIDWORKS Simulation to keep part cost down, meet strict safety requirements and reduce design revisions
  • Will incorporate SOLIDWORKS Workgroup PDM to organize 3D files and control revision process
  • Custom CATalyst NOW membership for engineers/designers to maintain superior skill set
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