User Story

Inventor : PHED Corporation

Part Handling, Engineering, and Development (PHED) Corporation (Anaheim, CA) serves the production industry by providing complete system design and manufacturing of automation equipment. We specialize in designing and manufacturing customized equipment in accordance with the client's requirements. In addition, as an authorized system integrator and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), PHED Corporation is associated with YAMAHA Motor Corp., Hoppmann Corp., and other industry leaders. The company produces automation equipment covering applications such as parts assembly, packaging, food and pharmaceutical, feed systems, and robots.

Bassam Poullath, PHED president, and his brother, Bashar, a mechanical engineer and partner in the business, design multi-million dollar machines. "It's important for us to first develop the right concept for our customers," says Bassam. "That effort helps save money and time for the customer as well as bolsters the system's performance. We started our business, and until lately, working strictly in 2D. However, in order to better address the issues of saving time and money and adding to machine performance, we realized the need to migrate to a 3D design environment.

"Today, all our concepts are done in 3D. The customer, who typically has no mechanical or technical abilities in terms of how the machine will look like and how it will perform, now has a much better idea of how the machine will look prior to its being built. We selected Inventor software from Autodesk to help us market and sell our expertise to our customers."

Using Inventor, Bassam and Bashar can better educate their customers on their design concepts. "The software helps our customers fully understand exactly what we plan to build for them," adds Bassam. He says there is no comparison to providing a 3D rotated view versus a 2D wire frame drawing.

Design challenges
Typically, manufacturers approach PHED by showing actual parts that need to be assembled. Bassam says, "Our customers realize the costs of hiring more people for hand assembly to address increasing product demands outweigh the cost of implementing an automated assembly process."

Customers approach PHED because they need to reduce the costs of labor by buying a system that can assemble much faster than manual labor. For instance, if one assembly worker can assemble ten parts per minute, a machine can assemble up to 50 - 1,000 parts per minute.

A $350,000 PHED system takes between six to eight weeks to design. Some machines are very complex. Bassam says, "We designed three large systems using Inventor in the short three months that we have been using it. We were so impressed with how easy it was to use. Historically, I was a longtime, diehard 2d user. I didn't want to learn 3D solid modeling because I thought systems were too slow. Yet, after a one-week Inventor course, I was hooked and on my way to designing my first real system. There is no way that I would revert back to using 2D tools."

Benefits of Inventor
Back in the 2D days, Bassam notes, "when we designed in 2D, we designed machines faster in the design phase. However, once we reached the fabrication and assembly phases, we came upon many mistakes that should have been caught in the design cycle. However, since we couldn't visualize part interferences and other critical issues in 2D, the errors were missed and caused costly problems downstream. Today, we spend approximately 10 to 20% more time in the engineering phase; but realize up to 30% time savings in fabrication and assembly because the parts are more accurate and there is very little need to modify designs. Early in the design phase using Inventor we can see how parts fit together, interact, and if there are any part interferences."

Bassam says one of the greatest benefits for PHED and its customers is the ability to animate machine motion and visualize how it interacts with the other components around it. "We couldn't do that in 2D," adds Bassam. "We can take significant proactive measures upfront in the design phase rather than frantically react to mistakes later in the manufacturing cycle."

Project perks
For one of the three large systems that Bassam designed using Inventor, he was particularly surprised at how quickly he completed the design. "In 2D, it would have taken me a lot longer."

A small family-owned business, PHED principals wear many hats. Since implementing Inventor, Bassam says that when he walks away from a design project to address other issues he's not concerned about remembering his place when he returns to the work. "I know exactly where I left off. In 2D, I got lost and had to really work hard to refresh my memory. Inventor makes it very easy to jump right back in continue working as though I hadn't left at all."

He says PHED engineers are anxious to provide product views at design reviews. For the first time, PHED customers will visualize how their proposed machine will look and fit in their plant PHED cuts any material.

Just checking
PHED bought a license of SolidWorks after they implemented Inventor. "We wanted to test the competition," adds Bassam. "We knew that both software providers are well respected. We determined that SolidWorks was a little slower than Inventor and that it required too many icon picks. In addition, and more importantly, SolidWorks has no re-do command in any mode. It has undo but it only works one step back and only on certain screens. For instance, if a user is working in sketch mode moves to extrusions, the user cannot go back and undo what was sketched before. You can't redo at a single step at any situation." Since then, PHED returned its license of SolidWorks.

"KETIV Technologies, our distributor, was very impressed with how quickly we got up to speed using Inventor," Bassam says. "It's not that I am so smart. It's because the product is so easy to learn. We are also very impressed with Autodesk's commitment to Inventor. After just one year, the company is already offering version 4.0."

Author: Laura Carrabine

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Page last modified on December 8, 2000
Copyright 2000 by John Stark