UAV Engines Ltd
- Reduced development time by more than 50 percent
- Reduced new engine design from two years to less than a year
- Designed better performing engines that can carry aircraft farther and through harsher environments than those designed in 2D
- SolidWorks eDrawings improved design communication with customers
As with any aircraft, the power-to-weight ratio of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) engines is critical. Since 1992, U.K.-based UAV Engines Ltd. (UEL) has developed ever lighter engines that carry UAVs into harsh environments for predominantly military applications. Mounted with precision cameras and other equipment, these UAVs are providing military personnel with sophisticated, safe surveillance of insurgent activity in many theaters of operation. They also can be used to study environmental conditions in polar environments. UEL’s design process evolved from paper drafting to 2D AutoCAD. But optimizing the power-to-weight ratio was limited by the constant re-work and endless number of drawings required to see different configurations in 2D. The process took too much time and often forced engineers to correct errors from one drawing to the next.
The company evaluated Solid Edge and Pro/ENGINEER, but standardized on SolidWorks CAD software and SolidWorks Simulation design analysis software to better visualize how to reduce the number of components, and therefore the weight of the engine, while increasing performance. Using SolidWorks CAD software for the past five years has helped UEL reduce the number of components in each engine to around 300. Engineers can better visualize the engine design in 3D, refining complex components that must be air cooled, and determining which components are redundant. Many of UEL’s customers deploy UAVs in harsh environments, such as in desert or tundra, and therefore have custom specifications for size, weight, and performance. SolidWorks CAD software makes it easy and fast for engineers to tweak designs based on customer feedback by automating changes throughout the design. Durability is also a significant requirement. SolidWorks Simulation gives UEL fast, comprehensive analysis capabilities to ensure prototypes meet acceptable weight, performance, and durability tolerances. Using SolidWorks CAD software and SolidWorks Simulation, UEL has reduced new engine design from two years to less than a year, meeting shrinking customer deadlines and giving engineers more time to explore new innovations. UEL uses SolidWorks eDrawings e-mail-enabled design communication tool to share 3D models of prototype engines with customers. SolidWorks eDrawings allows customers to view, rotate, and comment on UEL designs as if they were holding the prototype in their hands, without having to download any software. It gives customers a lot of confidence if they can see the engines in 3D. UEL manages all of the design data and automates key product development and lifecycle operations by connecting product data management tool DBWorks, which is a SolidWorks Certified Gold Partner Product, to its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Doing so helps automate everything from costing and scheduling to delivery, eliminating paperwork, and reducing errors.