Pro/ENGINEER Used To Design Successful Vacuum Cleaner Product Line
The Royal Appliance Mfg. Co. is one of the oldest vacuum cleaner manufacturers in the U.S. The company designs, assembles, and markets a comprehensive line of vacuum cleaners under the Royal and Dirt Devil brand names.
The increasing consumer demand for these products, and the need to decrease the product design cycle, resulted in a decision by the company to acquire the latest technology for product engineering.
Up to this time, product designs were hand drawn at drafting tables. The decision was made to automate this process.
Going from 2D drafting tables to advanced 3D solid modeling techniques on powerful Sun workstations was a major jump but John Sovis, engineering director, felt it was imperative for Royal to make a commitment to next-generation technology.
The objective was to enable them to evaluate design concepts and engineering solutions before the prototype was made.
Pro/ENGINEER was selected as the CAD system based on a competitive comparison of design packages. Sun workstations were picked as the platform. These two products became the nucleus of the modernized design department.
Royal’s main engineering interest is in conceptual and detailed design as it uses outside sources for manufacturing. Ten seats of Pro/ENGINEER, each with additional modules such as Pro/SURFACE, Pro/FEATURE, and Pro/ASSEMBLY were installed on a network of SPARCstation 2s.
Pro/MESH was also installed, enabling the designers to perform FEA procedures on their designs, further advancing the quality of the product before the prototype stage.
Royal selected the SPARCstation 2 because the Sun workstation met their requirements for speed, cost, reliability, and UNIX and DOS operating systems.
Sovis says the big surprise was the speed in which his staff became proficient in Pro/ENGINEER. “Our designers were producing 2D drawings on paper and were unfamiliar with automated design.
They took the basic one-week training program and we immediately gave them their first 3D design assignment. The assignment, a vacuum cleaner fan and housing, was completed as they learned the system.
Still, the total time, including training, required to create a solid model in Pro/ENGINEER was less than it would have taken them to produce 2D drawings on paper.”
“Pro/ENGINEER met all our requirements,” Sovis added. “Engineers are now performing up front analysis of the part design and tooling required, and they are designing assembly fixtures.”
“Perhaps the one thing that has impacted operations the most is the ability to plot computer models and to send electronic files to our assembly people and outside vendors.
Everyone, including vendors, can look at the model, get physical properties such as surface volume, area, and weight.
Marketing, production, and purchasing, after viewing the model, can reach agreement on issues from raw materials to color. Pro/ENGINEER has improved our team operation as well as decreasing our time-to-market.”
Royal follows a low-risk growth strategy and uses outside sources for the manufacture of components. As a result, Royal is more flexible than other vertically integrated manufacturers and can respond quicker to changes in product demand.
Some 98.8 percent of all components for Royal and Dirt Devil products are made by US manufacturers and 80 percent are produced within 100 miles of the company’s three assembly plants in Cleveland, Ohio.
Royal has been strongly urging its vendors to install Pro/ENGINEER in their own facilities. “Its not that translation is a problem,” Sovis says. “We want them to use the same system so that there is a direct interface, simplifying the process of making last minute changes or modifications.
Many of our vendors, have seen Pro/ENGINEER in use and are impressed with its performance.”
And how is time-to-market at Royal under the new manufacturing system? The company’s new Dirt Devil Upright Plus, which uses 131 components from 39 vendors, was taken from concept to assembly in just over one year. A record for the company.