Customer Stories

AccuMEC Mechanical Designs

Project Summary
The primary challenge facing the Port Elizabeth, South Africa, mechanical design specialist AccuMEC Mechanical Designs was to boost its core design capability and deliver the thrust required to break into new markets and go head-to-head with established global competitors. For the young company, an established user of Autodesk 2D technology, the solution was embodied in the model-based mechanical design software Autodesk® Inventor®. An easy transition to the new software, which halved the time the company used to spend designing in 2D, combined with the technology’s large assembly capability, has enabled AccuMEC Mechanical Designs to start shaking off the stranglehold that established European manufacturers have had on supplying specialist equipment to the South African automotive industry.

Expanding into New Markets
AccuMEC is a mechanical design specialist based in Port Elizabeth, the engine room of the South African automotive industry. When managing director Greg Shepherd established the mechanical design house, he had extensive experience designing specialized equipment for the confectionery industry. One of the primary objectives of the new company was to break into new markets with special focus on designing equipment for the automotive component field.

2D Design Time Halved
The new business mushroomed and Shepherd was concerned that working in 2D was becoming a constraint on the company. In his opinion he was spending an excessive amount of time coordinating drawings – 2D was hindering, rather than helping, the company’s design capability. So with the help of Port Elizabeth-based Autodesk reseller Micrographics, AccuMEC migrated to Autodesk Inventor software in a month. The first benefit the company experienced was a dramatic reduction in design time—the new technology helped to halve the time the company’s designers spent designing in 2D.

Effective Interface Between Thought and Form
“We purchased Autodesk Inventor for its simple, effective interface between thought and form,” explains Shepherd. “The software is easy to use, revisions are made quickly, and management of drawings is uncomplicated. This means we now have time to concentrate on design function and content, rather than simply on drawing integrity. And the software just keeps getting better.”

1,500-Part, Purpose-Built Machine
The project on which Autodesk Inventor software has had the biggest impact has been the design by AccuMEC of a 45-ton special-purpose “final washing and drying facility” for diesel engine blocks manufactured at the Daimler Chrysler-owned company Atlantis Foundries. The machine will wash and dry finish-machined diesel engine blocks manufactured for export by the Western Cape factory. The cleaning operation is the final stage of the manufacturing process prior to quality control and palletising for shipping to a U.K.-based diesel engine manufacturer. Comprising about 1,500 parts, the modular, purpose-built machine is believed to be the largest of its kind manufactured locally for a South African-based automotive component manufacturer.

According to Shepherd, the implementation of Autodesk Inventor has boosted AccuMEC’s capacity by giving it the capability and confidence to take on complex multipart assemblies. The result has been opportunities in new markets, sustained growth, and a much-improved profit margin for the company. “Our business has skyrocketed, we’ve quadrupled our staff count and doubled turnover in less than two years.”

Large Assembly Capability
The software’s clash-detection feature enables designers at AccuMEC to identify clashes when combining sub-assemblies, which comprise moving components, into a final design model. Clashes, which are typical and common in engineering design, are avoided. For AccuMEC, however, the biggest benefit of Autodesk Inventor is the software’s large assembly capability.

“We’re able to take on ambitious, multipart assemblies, which we previously wouldn’t have considered doing.

Autodesk Inventor has launched us into an exciting playing field, giving us the capability to go head-to-head with global competitors,” says Shepherd.

The Results
Providing cost-effective South African-designed alternatives to expensive, imported European-manufactured machinery, is enabling AccuMEC to break into new markets typically serviced by well-established European companies.

Two Port Elizabeth companies collaborated on the “washing and drying facility” project. Mechanical design specialist AccuMEC Mechanical Designs developed the design, which was manufactured by R&B Project Design & Engineering, winner of the 2002 Sunday Times Small Enterprise Award for Technology Excellence (Eastern Cape). Frank Blues, managing director of R&B Project Design & Engineering, says the AccuMEC and R&B team sold the original concept to the client with the aid of Autodesk Inventor presentation images.

“The technology is a powerful communication tool. Assemblies can be rotated onscreen and viewed from all angles, and using .AVI files one can run an animated simulation of real or conceptual assemblies,” says Blues. “Potential clients can actually see a machine ‘running’ on a PC monitor before a single part has been manufactured.” Blues was so impressed with Autodesk Inventor he invested in a license for his own company.