SolidWorks, SolidWorks Simulation and PDM play a key role in the development of new forklifts and automatic guided vehicles at the Finnish Company Rocla. The innovative company is currently engaged in a project where it develops a new counterbalance truck that is able to operate both indoors and outdoors. Among other differences, the new truck has larger wheels than Rocla’s previous trucks for indoor use. “The project means big changes to our existing production; production volume has become larger and we have built a completely new assembly line,” explains Rocla’s CAD administrator Mika Särkkä.
Rocla has a very high level of design and has received several prestigious design awards such as last year’s red dot award. “As developers, our largest challenge is to create perfect designs for new products at a rapid pace. With our sophisticated use of SolidWorks and PDM, that has become possible,” says Mika Särkkä. “SolidWorks and PDM enable us to design products very quickly in a way that they are ready for production. Our development process is short and highly structured. The intelligent combination of 3D CAD and PDM integrated with BOMs in our ERP system ensures high quality in our new designs. In this way, we can simulate a wide range of properties, saving physical prototypes.”
Rocla is creating a generic 3D master model for each new product family. Based on the model, developers can configure new versions of a product. “We make modular designs. There are many variations of the individual trucks, but a lot of their parts at the same time are very similar. From the generic model residing in the PDM system, we can easily configure variations of products while the PDM system makes it easy to find and reuse existing parts,” explains Mika Särkkä.
SolidWorks is also used extensively for the design of sheet metal parts. Särkkä emphasizes that the CAD system makes it easy both to design the sheet metal parts and understand if they can be produced in practice: “When you design in the Sheet Metal module you work with a highly realistic representation of the part,” he says.
Rocla is using a lot of subcontractors and 3D models and drawings from SolidWorks are a very important piece of the daily cooperation with them. Data from the CAD system is for instance used in cooperation with Rocla’s suppliers of tools and laser-cut items.
“Using 3D models and drawings from SolidWorks is much easier to communicate effectively with our suppliers and develop parts for our products in close cooperation with them. If needed, SolidWorks makes it easy and quick to make changes,” says Mika Särkkä.
He emphasizes that it is easy for new employees in the development department to get started with SolidWorks: “We often get new, young employees and the user friendliness of SolidWorks means that it is easy for them to get started quickly and be efficient and productive in a short time.”
Bransjer: Industrial Machinery