APV Baker, a Peterborough-based manufacturer of industrial baking and food processing equipment, has been using CAD/CAM software for more than 20 years, mostly for 2D designs. Now it is working with its software supplier, Unigraphics, on a plan that is likely to include greater use of 3D modelling and modular design.
Earlier this year, APV Baker began to test Unigraphics’ new CAD process management software, UG/Wave, which allows a product to be broken down into a number of modules, for which different interfaces and design rules can be developed.
The software then manages the product development process by ensuring that module designers work within given criteria and informing them immediately of any changes in the design.
APV Baker used the software on a customer contract for the development of a gas-fired oven. The aim was to improve the oven’s baking performance, reduce its manufacturing costs and produce a template that would allow variants of this oven to be produced quickly. All the company’s ovens are designed and made to customers’ specifications.
`UG/Wave was important because it allowed us to build a simplified, fully-associative 3D model of the oven as a set of sub-assemblies. This model, or template, can be used to produce variants of the design because any changes to it are automatically propagated throughout the sub-assemblies,’ says Dougal Crisp, principal designer at APV Baker. `This is hard to achieve with assembly modelling techniques in solid modellers.’
In APV Baker’s experience, using UG/Wave requires a clear understanding at the outset of how a product is to be structured. Given this, Crisp reckons that using the software to develop a simplified 3D model as a template for the detailed design, is faster than the traditional approach of using a solid modeller at the start for detailed design work.
An illustration of the time that can be saved occurred when the width of the belt on the gas-fired oven project changed. Although most of the detailed design work had been completed, UG/Wave enabled the change to be made and automatically propagated throughout the design in two to three hours rather than the several days it would have taken using a traditional approach.
Another benefit of using the new software is that the sub-assemblies are more likely to fit together. Having completed the detailed design of the oven sub-assemblies, they are converted from 3D solid models to 2D flat patterns and the patterns sent as files to sub-contractors, where they are used to laser cut, punch and bend sheet metal.
APV Baker welds the metal and carries out the assembly work. `The integrity of the information has been very good and the build of the oven is going well,’ Crisp says.
The firm is now considering using UG/Wave on a different oven project. `I’m confident we can do a better job the next time putting together the control structure,’ concludes Crisp.