A great place for developing recreational vehicles In Dorotea, Sweden, SoliferPolar AB (SoliferPolar) develops and manufactures one of the most popular brands of caravans. In bringing its caravans to market, SoliferPolar uses Solid Edge® software to facilitate complete control over the company’s product development and production processes. Solid Edge – with its advanced 3D design capabilities and ease of use – fosters speed and efficiency across operations.
Dorotea, which lies in southern Lapland far from the nearest large town, is a paradise for enthusiasts who love hunting, fishing and the outdoor life. The inland railway line and European Highway 45 serve as links to the outside world. During the holiday season, a steady stream of tourists passes through the surrounding countryside in recreational vehicles and campers, but few realize that many of the caravans they are towing were built close by. In fact, four to five finished Polar and Solifer caravans come off the production line every day at the nearby SoliferPolar production plant, where a staff of 87 workers runs operations.
“Polar and Solifer are two of the most popular caravans in our sector,” notes Gunnar Nilsson, chief designer at SoliferPolar. “Like other caravans, the Polar and Solifer brands have recreational functions, but otherwise the similarities between SoliferPolar caravans and other products on the market are not particularly striking. Almost all SoliferPolar vehicles are built by hand and customized to order. As a result, even if they look more or less the same as competitive brands on the outside, Polar and Solifer caravans have unique interior designs suited to a wide variety of customer preferences. This customization, in combination with the SoliferPolar brands’ excellent winter season qualities, distinguishes Solifer and Polar from many of their competitors.”
A faster, more efficient product development process – Solid Edge
The six design engineers who work at SoliferPolar leverage Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge system as their main tool for digital product development. A large part of the engineers’ work consists of designing and customizing the caravans’ interiors to suit a wide variety of customer preferences. In fact, the interior design is essentially what distinguishes one SoliferPolar vehicle from another. Nilsson explains, “Customizing the interiors, realizing innovative and compelling new designs, puts tough demands on our designers and the tools we use. But by using Solid Edge, we can work quickly and effectively and still stay in control of our development work and production.”
The main part of SoliferPolar’s product development and production activity is carried out in its own factory, with some work and details, such as the joinery, outsourced to subcontractors. However, all of SoliferPolar’s design work is performed in 3D, which saves significant time in comparison with its earlier use of 2D software. Today, when the company’s 3D designs are ready, their files can easily and quickly be converted by Solid Edge into 2D drawings (for use in spare parts catalogs) or into the file formats preferred by SoliferPolar’s subcontractors.
SoliferPolar’s design department is linked with its production facilities, so the functions of the milling tools and other manufacturing machines can be readily adapted to any design changes. This link facilitates a production environment where it is easy to make adjustments and implement custom-made solutions for unique orders. Nilsson explains, “We create the files that both we and our subcontractors use in the manufacturing tools directly from Solid Edge. That translates to a much faster and efficient process.”
A future that looks bright – synchronous technology
With Solid Edge in place since 2003, SoliferPolar’s computer-aided design (CAD) environment is well honed. To further improve its technological edge and product development efficiency, SoliferPolar plans to introduce Solid Edge with synchronous technology throughout its operations. “We are extremely eager to deploy Solid Edge with synchronous technology, especially since it will enable us to work a lot faster,” says Gunnar Nilsson. Synchronous technology is the product lifecycle management (PLM) industry’s first history-free, feature-based modeling technology, typically providing its users dramatic performance gains.
With ongoing improvement as part of its mantra, SoliferPolar continues to demonstrate its commitment to quality, innovation and the pursuit of excellence in the highly competitive recreational vehicle market.
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