When it comes to sophisticated equipment and complicated assembly lines, off-the-shelf work platforms simply will not cut it. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a custom work platform manufacturer, including:
- How experienced is the company in work platform design?
- How much does design time cost? and
- What materials does the company typically use?
Another important aspect to consider is the design software a company uses. You are going to have the most success with a company that are experts in 3D solid modeling software, such as SolidWorks, Pro-E, or CATIA. Here’s why:
1. You have an instant visual representation of what the product will look like
Imagine you are ordering a custom work stand for use in your manufacturing or maintenance facility, and you receive the image below for approval. Are you sure this is the platform you want? The dimensions look right, but it’s difficult to tell if it’s really what you need.
Now imagine you receive the dimensional drawing, plus the picture below. It’s so much easier to understand what the product looks like and how it will function, and you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not it will suit your requirements.
2. Design change requests can be quickly executed
The advanced technology of 3D modeling software allows design changes to be made instantaneously. Does the deck need to be three inches wider? Do you need an extra foot of height adjustability? With just a few adjustments, the design changes can be executed and ready for review.
3. You can check for interface with your equipment
3D modeling software allows the design team to place the work platform against your target object. Now you not only see what it will look like, but you can check for proper interface. The target object 3D model can be provided by you or sourced by the design team.
3D modeling allows the design team to verify interface, fit up, and dimensions, and to look for potential issues. Flexible mates within the solid model allow for dynamic movement of linear and rotational components, allowing you to see how the platform will fit throughout its range of elevation or motions, identifying any potential unforeseen interferences.
Take a look at the first image. The 3D model allows you to see how the platform will interface with the tooling as well as with the equipment.
The next two images demonstrate how a work platform will interface with the dimensions and features of the target object. As you can see in the image on the right, the platform support structure is designed for proper fit of the base features within the system.
4. Design data is automatically generated
A final benefit of 3D modeling is that if you need to know the platform’s center of gravity or how much it will weigh, that data is instantly available for review and modification. If more in-depth engineering analysis is required, Finite Element Analysis can be undertaken on the same solid model, providing assurance of the adequacy of the structural design.
Since the evolution in the early 80’s of solid modeling (which was a great leap forward from the two-dimensional computer aided design used at the time,) its quick, accurate, and economical product design capabilities have revolutionized custom design within industry. Customers can now easily view, evaluate, and conceptually incorporate new products into their specific applications before committing to the design. Design engineers typically charge by the hour to create new products, as do many, if not most, design/manufacturers. There are some, however, that will provide initial conceptual designs at little or no cost, and roll design and development costs into the customer’s final purchase price of the new product.
*Originally published February 2014.Go Back