Sebastien Jame of Kval says XVL technology helps create a team effort between design and manufacturing staffs.
Kval Inc., a manufacturer of heavy industrial woodworking machinery, has always used SolidWorks 3D-modeling software to quickly and accurately provide necessary custom designs of its panel saws that employ special traveling carriages. However, the 3D files for such Kval machines are quite large, so loading, viewing and manipulating models took too long for 3D model sharing and publishing.
To speed the process, the company installed XVL compression technology from Lattice3D (www.lattice3d.com). This combination of SolidWorks to create 3D models and XVL to share them decreases assembly and reworking time by as much as 20 percent, reduces new technician learning curves to minutes instead of days and slashes spare-part service calls often by 15 to 20 min. for Kval (www.kvalinc.com).
To meet specific customer requirements, Kval engineering would design a variant automatic door-milling machine, send it "over the wall" to the company's 30,000-square-ft production floor, then not hear anything back for a while, assuming the design was okay. But often, shop personnel would find difficulties in the design's manufacturability and send a set of marked-up drawings back to engineering. The two departments communicated in this manner, not just from their physical separation, but because the 'wall' consisted of a mainly technical barrier. Design spoke CAD, and manufacturing communicated with red ink on paper. XVL technology ultra-compressed Kval's CAD models to optimize the design process, and it even helped the shop's welders quickly see how to arrange and weld parts in more-efficient sequences.
According to Sebastien Jame, engineering services director at Kval, XVL technology does not make lobbing projects back and forth over the wall more efficient or faster, per se — instead, it opens a door in the wall. The design and manufacturing process is now a team effort between the groups. Production-floor personnel can offer assembly building advice that is immediately accessible by the designers. Even having no CAD experience, manufacturing can use XVL's simple animation tools and free viewers to increase productivity and reduce rework.
In Kval's technical support and service department, XVL lets the support staff view automatic html pages showing a customer's machine model, assembly structure and animated configuration from a desktop PC via a web browser. As customers describe machine problems, Kval technicians zoom and pan to 'virtually' see the same thing the customer does. This ensures that customers get the right parts the first time. Prior to XVL, technicians had to locate applicable paper drawings, including the variants for that particular customer's machine, while the customer tried to describe what they needed over a cell phone and standing at the machine on their shop floor.
Kval is also hoping to go 100 percent 3D, and XVL will play a significant role in that venture. "We want to give our customers, via the Kval website or an on-line webex session, the ability to directly view and access a 3D model of their particular machine to identify problems and order spare parts. We plan to deliver Kval machines, not with a paper user manual, but with a portable computer loaded with a Lattice3D viewer, 3D XVL files (including disassembly and assembly animations) of the customer's machine and webex so that customers and our field service staff can readily understand and work on problems together," says Jame.