Amphibious All Terrain Vehicle Manufacturer Transitions from 2D to 3D
Ontario Drive and Gear Ltd. (ODG) designs, manufactures, and sells ARGO and CENTAUR vehicles. ARGOs are all-season, amphibious, all-terrain vehicles that offer seating for up to six passengers. The company’s latest eight-wheeler, CENTAUR, is targeted for the commercial market and is engineered to excel in the toughest conditions imaginable. ODG, headquartered in New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada, is the world’s leader in amphibious, all terrain vehicles and recently selected Autodesk Inventor to design its products.
ODG also designs and manufactures commercial gears and transmissions. The company’s commitment to high quality industrial products is backed by the latest gear manufacturing technology and a team of professionals dedicated to excellence in customer satisfaction. ODG designs and produces small to medium volume gears and transmissions to its customers’ satisfaction. Its capabilities include the latest in CNC gear hobbing and skiving, CNC machining, fear shaving, broaching, and key seating. ODG is the Canadian representative for KTR power transmission couplings. KTR is a world leader in the development, engineering, and manufacture of power transmission couplings.
Since implementing Autodesk Inventor software, John Donkers, ODG Design Technologist and CAD Administrator, has used the technology to completely model the existing ARGO and CENTAUR vehicles in 3D for the first time. As a result of that work, Donkers and the design team have also used Autodesk Inventor software to design vehicle accessories such as a brush guard, a roll bar, and dumpbox without building expensive prototypes. These accessories were not available in the past and ODG had difficulty visualizing how the parts would look on their vehicles. By modeling the entire ARGO using Autodesk Inventor software, Donkers and his colleagues are now able to examine the form, fit, and function of the accessories in relation to the rest of the vehicle.
Prior to using Autodesk Inventor, Donkers and the engineering team used Cimatron software in 2D mode only. “We made the decision to migrate to a 3D mechanical CAD system because we needed a tool to help us move product to market faster and more economically. For example, we wanted to eliminate some of the costly prototype building and testing. We believe that Autodesk Inventor will help us significantly reduce time to market,” says Donkers.
Until implementing Autodesk Inventor, ODG required several whole vehicle prototypes for each of its products. Each prototype costs between US$5,000 to US$7,000. Achieving great accuracy and fewer errors as a result of using Autodesk Inventor, ODG will reduce those builds and related expenses.
Along with Autodesk Inventor, Donkers evaluated Solid Edge and SolidWorks products. “We selected Autodesk Inventor because of its ease of use. That functionality alone far outweighed the other software packages,” notes Donkers. “In addition, since we were making the quantum leap from 2D to 3D, we wanted to make the migration as easy as possible for our users. So, the ease of use issue was very important.”
As a result of bringing Autodesk Inventor into the ODG environment, the company plans to use Autodesk Inventor software’s 2D and 3D capabilities for all of its products. Donkers hopes to use the software for numerous activities including using it to generate parts manuals. “Right now, our Illustrator uses Corel and Pagemaker to document our parts manuals that accompany each vehicle. Using Autodesk Inventor, we can document directly from the solid models. That step streamlines the design-to-manufacture process. Autodesk Inventor reduces the time-consuming task of drawing,” says Donkers. Effective Tool for Production, Sales, and Marketing
ODG plans to use Autodesk Inventor to generate AVIs (Ed: AVI is a common computer animation format) as an efficient marketing tool. “We can create AVIs on axle and transmission assemblies so operators and assembly staff can understand how each assembly should be put together,” adds Donkers.
Autodesk Inventor will completely eliminate Cimatron. Donkers believes that ODG will expand its use of Autodesk Inventor in the future. “Right now, we plan to get our whole design department up and running using the software,” says Donkers. “We believe that Autodesk Inventor will complement our development activities from conceptualization through production.”
Donkers adds, “Since we sell to the consumer marketplace, our vehicles have to be aesthetically pleasing. Working in 3D, it’s a lot easier to visualize how the design will look as an end product. Before, we drew it in 2D, built a prototype, and decided that we needed to make changes. We would go back and redesign it in 2D and go through the same process several times until we came up with a design that everyone was happy with. Today, we design the vehicle in 3D and everyone can see on-screen how the product will look in reality. The software is a great tool to aid communication with sales and marketing, as well as management.” Distributor Provides Benchmark Testing and Software Training
Gino Barone, sales manager at Lynch Technology Inc., an Autodesk distributor, was responsible for the Autodesk Inventor sale at ODG. “We were called in to ODG to provide an Autodesk Inventor benchmark against Solid Edge and SolidWorks. Our technical person conducted a half-day mini training session and left a 30-day trial copy of Autodesk Inventor. Throughout the course of the 30-day period, we helped ODG users become familiar using the software. At the end of the trial period, ODG decided that Autodesk Inventor was the best fit for them.”
He says that even though ODG was a non-AutoCAD user prior to making the decision to select Autodesk Inventor, they were adamant that the software follows their business processes. “We learned a great deal in this experience including the fact that Autodesk Inventor has a strong focus on process design as opposed to part or assembly design. That’s where Autodesk Inventor really out-classes the other competitive systems,” says Barone.
“In fact, one of ODG’s larger customers uses Solid Edge. Both companies share engineering data. Yet, having seen all the packages, ODG still selected Autodesk Inventor over all the others,” adds Barone.
Lynch Technology implemented the software and trained ODG designers at Lynch’s facility. Donkers said that everyone caught on quite quickly. “We just implemented the software a couple weeks ago, but we feel confident that we will be using Autodesk Inventor in production very quickly,” says Donkers.