June 05, 2006
Autodesk Inventor Used For Factory Design
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Autodesk Inc. announced that the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, the second-best selling brand of pickles in the country, is using Autodesk Inventor 11 software, the world's best-selling 3D mechanical design solution and best choice for AutoCAD software users, to design and document the machinery that comprises its sophisticated pickle processing plant. The company worked with Avatech Solutions, Inc. , an Autodesk channel partner, to choose Autodesk Inventor 11.

The Mt. Olive Pickle Company, Inc., located in Mount Olive, North Carolina, was originally founded to brine cucumbers to be sold to other pickling firms. When that plan didn't work, 21 local business people came together to establish the company for the purpose of packing and selling its own pickle products. From a modest beginning in 1926, with only a 3,600 square-foot building and $15,875 in capital, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company has grown to become the largest independent pickle company in the United States. The company packs over 90 million jars of processed and fresh pack pickles, relishes and peppers

Mt. Olive's facilities are located on 110 acres of land, with approximately 970,000 square feet of production, office and warehouse space. The company has over 1,200 fiberglass and plastic brine vats, with storage capacity in excess of 40 million pounds of cucumbers.

"Autodesk Inventor plays a key role in our entire pickling process," explained Jimmy Carr, Plant Engineer at Mt. Olive. "We use Autodesk Inventor to design and document the entire process. The pickle packaging process requires customized conveyors, washing, cutting, pasteurization and filling equipment. We use Autodesk Inventor to route piping runs, both high purity process lines and utility piping, such as air, water and steam. We are also documenting our facilities. Having our machinery, mechanicals and buildings documented in Inventor allow us to troubleshoot production problems efficiently, resulting in a reduction of costly downtime. The level of detail provided in
Autodesk Inventor 11 is really helpful for providing either management or vendors with exact measurements and details of the production machinery if there's ever a problem."

To further take advantage of the investment they have made in their design data, Mt. Olive leverages Autodesk Vault functionality. Integrated with Autodesk Inventor software, Autodesk Vault is an easy-to-use data management tool that makes work-in-process data more accessible and reusable while avoiding the versioning problems inherent in sharing files among workgroups.

"Autodesk Vault has really helped us with our file management," said Carr. "It ensures that all of our designs are correctly versioned and organized. This makes it much easier to track older design iterations and to re-use designs of older machines -- the 'copy design' function in Vault is of tremendous value in this endeavor."

Robert "Buzz" Kross, vice president of Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions Division, noted: "Companies across a wide range of industries are unlocking the value that Autodesk Inventor can provide to their business. By taking advantage of the innovations that the latest release provides, Mt. Olive is leading the way with their extensive use of Autodesk solutions."


by Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

At first glance, using a mechanical CAD application for architectural and process design might seem kind of far fetched, but it's happening with increasing frequency. I've heard of architects using MCAD products, such as SolidWorks and Inventor, for certain types of architectural design, especially industrial. It makes sense with an application like Inventor, because the current version, Release 11 has a capability called Frame Generator that can be used to build frame structures, such as metal railings and stairs. It wasn't really developed as an architectural feature set, because it was intended more for machine-related frame structures, but for simple architectural demands, it works.

And, while I am not an architect, from what I know, a good portion of architectural design is still performed using 2D, such as AutoCAD. This makes it handy for those architects that still use AutoCAD but might want to move to something like Inventor, because AutoCAD is part of the package known as theAutodesk Inventor Series - the only way you can purchase Inventor.

Through an Autodesk spokesperson, we posed a couple of questions to Jimmy Carr, the Mt. Olive contact quoted in the press release.

First, we asked, do you use Inventor to perform plant layout from an architectural and/or process perspective? He answered, "Yes we are beginning to use Inventor for plant layout both architecturally and process. R11 with the new Level Of Detail capabilities and the improved performance of the Drawing Manager has allowed this to finally become a possibility."

Next, we asked what were they using prior to Inventor? Mr. Carr said, "We used AutoCAD prior to Inventor and still do use AutoCAD. AutoCAD continues to be the platform of choice for quick production line layout

proofs before we commit the project to 3D.

So, will MCAD applications ultimately supercede and make true architectural applications obsolete? Hardly. The two disciplines and there requirements are very much different and won't change anytime soon. It is interesting, however, to see how some companies push the envelope and challenge the so-called norms and perceived limits of CAD applications.

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I invite you to check out our new and improved Discussion Groups on MCADCafe.com. We have number of timely topics, such as interoperability and design for manufacturability, as well as dedicated discussions on specific MCAD products. We also have a free CAD Job Board for employers, recruiters, and those seeking employment. From the MCADCafe.com web site, click on Discussions and Discussion Groups near the top of the home page, or cut and paste the address below into your browser:

We hope to see you there and engage in the many interesting Discussion Groups.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

CAD Schroer GmbH (CSG) announced the release of version 2.1 of its STHENO/PRO dedicated drafting plug-in for Pro/ENGINEER. The release coincides with a campaign targeted at Pro/E users whose current, non-integrated 2D systems may now be unsupported and expensive to upgrade and maintain. CSG recently introduced new functionality to STHENO/PRO, including the SMART Edit tool for dynamically editing designs without a sketch, which offers parametrics on demand without the need to dimension a drawing. The upgrade offer for owners of AutoCAD LT, AutoCAD, and AutoCAD Mechanical to one of the STHENO/PRO packages applies to all previous versions up to version 2005, with savings for companies making
the switch (rather than upgrading to AutoCAD 2006) to STHENO/PRO, which is fully DXF/DWG compatible.

Three of the four finalists' inventions on the popular reality TV show "American Inventor" on ABC were designed in SolidWorks. Product development consultancy Patton Design of California used SolidWorks to develop the Catch Elite, Word Ace, and Anecia Survival Capsule - all vying for the $1 million grand prize ultimately awarded to Janusz Liberkowski, inventor of the Anecia Survival Capsule, during the final episode on May 18. "American Inventor" has seen a spike in viewership as the 12 finalists (chosen from thousands of would-be inventors) used $50,000 provided by ABC to transform their ideas into working prototypes. ABC invited several product design companies to give
finalists a demonstration of their capabilities. The finalists then chose which design companies they thought would best bring their invention from a concept to a winning product. Patton Design was selected by three of the four finalists based on its breadth of experience, having developed everything from a leading heart defibrillator to high-end stereo speakers, all designed in SolidWorks.

Autodesk announced that it is sponsoring a new PBS television series about sustainable design titled "design: e2" (The Economics of Being Environmentally Conscious). Produced by kontentreal and narrated by Brad Pitt, the series is scheduled to air on PBS stations beginning in June 2006. In association with the series, Autodesk has unveiled its Sustainability Center (http://www.autodesk.com/green/) which will serve as a resource on the role of technology in sustainable design and profile industry leaders from manufacturing, building and infrastructure who are realizing their sustainable ideas. Autodesk provides software that can help design professionals measure and
analyze the performance costs and occupant experience of a building, predict the efficiency and durability of a mechanical device or model the layout of a new road to better understand its environmental impact. As a result, design professionals can significantly reduce the time and resources required to create sustainable buildings, infrastructure, and products.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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