Trailer and body manufacturer Cartwright is investing in advanced 3D design software that the company claims will improve efficiency by more than 20 per cent over the next 12 months.
This major investment by Cartwright will have a positive impact across the business, particularly sales, where the software will progressively become standard kit for the Cartwright sales force.
"The new design software will enable our customers to see a virtual model on screen. The objective is to use the system to actually design the trailer in front of the customer," explained Chris Mitchell, Cartwright’s Engineering Manager who is heading the 3D software implementation programme.
A fleet curtainsider model has already been used in the initial stages of the software development. The first stage has also included drawing the standard parts made internally by the company to create a large catalogue of components from which virtual models can be designed.
"The next stage is to start introducing bought-in components, including parts such as door equipment, axles etc sourced from suppliers," said Chris.
"We are also drawing a fleet van as a model for the 3D design software and once this is completed we can change the variables in terms of height and length on this product as we have with the Fleet Curtainsider," he continued.
The next product for the 3D design software project will be a step frame trailer. Chris Mitchell said it would take up to 12 months to include the total Cartwright product fleet onto the system. He is hopeful the project will be completed sooner but said the task will be to identify the changes that are needed and to build that intelligence into the drawings.
He continued: "We obviously have to take into account new legislation, but a lot of what we are doing is customer driven.
"We have standard products but the majority of our work is bespoke to the customer. The challenge is to turn a standard product into a bespoke product. The 3D modelling software will help us to achieve that."
In terms of efficiency, he believes that as everything will be more visible, the 3D model on screen will pick up any problems more easily as the system is more accessible.
The new system is also being run out onto the shop floor as well as through access points across the company. Consequently staff can look at a contract and its current status at any time making the whole design process more visible.
"Staff will be able to access a contract and recommend changes or modifications. The system effectively enables multiple eyes to look at a job and helps to promote good feedback from the shop floor.
He added: "The fact that our salesmen will now be able to look at the product on screen with the customer and make modifications and changes immediately, is a great selling point. We will be offering a true bespoke service.
"Visibility, accuracy and communication with the customer are all key advantages of the system. There are also major internal communication benefits as our own materials produced for the shop floor will be more accurate.
"In the long term I believe the 3D design system will lead to improved efficiencies of up to 20 per cent. The ultimate beneficiary will be the customer."