Centurion Systems (Pty.) Ltd.
Growing an access automation / control products manufacturing company with SOLIDWORKS® Solutions.
Centurion Systems manufactures a range of award-winning products to control the access of people and vehicles into and out of residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company develops gate automation and access control products that maximize customer security and convenience, and currently exports products to more than 70 countries. Centurion's goal is to grow an access automation/control products manufacturing company by streamlining development, improving efficiencies, and increasing innovation.
Implement SOLIDWORKS Standard design, SOLIDWORKS Premium design and analysis, SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional injection mold-filling simulation, SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional photorealistic rendering, SOLIDWORKS Composer Professional technical communications, and SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional product data management software solutions.
- Shortened product time-to-market by 66 percent
- Cut design cycles by 50 to 66 percent
- Eliminated two additional rounds of mold prototyping
- Reduced 50 to 75 percent of design time through design reuse
Centurion Systems manufactures a range of award-winning products to control the access of people and vehicles into and out of residential, commercial, and industrial properties.Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, the company develops gate automation and access control products that maximize customer security and convenience, and currently exports products to more than 70 countries. With hundreds of thousands of systems installed worldwide, Centurion has earned a reputation for reliable, innovative products that meet he needs of the gate and access automation industry.
From its founding in 1986, Centurion has grown dramatically, partly because of its ongoing investments in research, technology, and development. These investments include a commitment to using the latest CAD tools to continually explore innovative concepts, upgrade existing products, and develop tooling. Thus, Centurion was an early adopter of 3D design when the company migrated from the AutoCAD® 2D design tools to the SOLIDWORKS 3D product development platform almost two decades ago, according to R&D MechanicalManager Michael Blackman.
“Prior to 1998, there was only one mechanical designer working for Centurion Systems, and he had experience usingAutoCAD,” Blackman explains. “The company hired a second designer who was more familiar with SOLIDWORKS. This was obviously a bit of a dilemma for the company, so a directive was put into place for both products to be evaluated and a single platform to be chosen. As it turns out, the AutoCAD designer eventually moved on; and in 1998, SOLIDWORKS became the platform that Centurion chose to adopt going forward.”
Centurion chose to standardize on the SOLIDWORKS 3D product development system because it is easy to use and provides access to a complete range of additional integrated design and engineering solutions. Since implementing SOLIDWORKS 1998,Centurion has added more licenses to support its 10 designers.Over the years, Centurion has added SOLIDWORKS Premium,SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional, SOLIDWORKS VisualizeProfessional, SOLIDWORKS Composer, and SOLIDWORKS PDMProfessional software solutions.
“Being able to design, optimize, simulate, visualize, document, and create tooling in a single environment significantly shortens time to market,” Blackman stresses. “SOLIDWORKS is developing a great ecosystem with their products that allow us as designers to deliver products faster.”
BRINGING PRODUCTS TO MARKET FASTER
Since implementing SOLIDWORKS, Centurion has accelerated product time-to-market—developing new products in a third of the time—allowing the company to innovate and expand its product offering. Blackman attributes this improved productivity to shorter design cycles (which take a half to a third of the time), greater design reuse (which saves 50 to 75 percent of design time), and faster development of manufacturing tooling(which facilitates on-site production).
“Designs used to take a long time,” Blackman explains.“We are probably down to a third of the time. This could be due to having had smaller teams in the past, but our productivity improvements are definitely impacted by the various SOLIDWORKS packages that we use. We are now ina position where the mechanical design aspect of a project is considerably less than the administrative and tooling tasks required. I believe that this has a lot to do with the enhanced capabilities of SOLIDWORKS.
“Utilizing the various tools within SOLIDWORKS, we can design and test solutions quickly and ultimately send out the various files, in various formats, for prototyping. This allows us to quickly determine if an idea is feasible within the CAD environment, but to also be able to prototype and test real working samples. Without these tools, we believe that it could easily take two to three times longer.”
SAVING TIME, ENSURING RELIABILITY WITH SIMULATION Using SOLIDWORKS Premium simulation, Centurion saves time during product development while simultaneously optimizing designs to ensure product reliability. “SOLIDWORKS improves our productivity by enabling our designers to get a very good understanding of their designs within the CAD system,”Blackman notes.
“They are able to model concepts, test the physics of their designs, check component interfaces, test for strength through simulation, conceptualize different options, and optimize and simplify design ideas, all before a prototype is manufactured,”Blackman says. “This means that design iterations are minimized and project delivery is improved. The simulation tools allow us to test ideas during the development stages of the design long before we have to invest in prototypes and expensive tooling.”
Being able to design, optimize, simulate, visualize, document, and create tooling in a single environment significantly shortens time-to-market. SOLIDWORKS is developing a great ecosystem with their products that allow us as designers to deliver products faster.
MULTIFACETED MANUFACTURING SUPPORT
The SOLIDWORKS platform also helps Centurion quickly develop tooling to support multifaceted manufacturing processes. “Our biggest challenge lies with the variety of manufacturing processes that may be involved in the creation of our products, production lines, and jigging,” Blackman says. “We develop all of these solutions in-house, which means that we require aCAD tool that is capable of handling various aspects of design.”
“Examples of manufacturing processess and SOLIDWORKS tools include production lines and tables–weldments and solid modeling ;test jigs–sheet metal, solid modeling, and output files for CNC machining; assembly jigs–solid modeling, simulation, and motion analysis; and tooling design–solid modeling, surfacing, sheet metal, mold design, simulation, and plastics simulation,” Blackman notes.
“We are always trying to optimize the use of material to achieve designs that are both appropriate and reliable, so we assess the various manufacturing processes in optimizing our designs,”Blackman says. “To do this effectively, we need tools that allow us to design for the different manufacturing processes. SOLIDWORKS allows us to easily design for varying production methods.”
ELIMINATING NEED FOR PROTOTYPE MOLDS
By implementing SOLIDWORKS Plastics Professional, Centurion has eliminated two to three rounds of mold prototyping. Using the software, the company consistently achieves a functional mold the first time. “Almost every product we develop has injection-molded components,” Blackman points out. “A lot of companies may argue that it is the responsibility of the toolmaker to ensure that the components will mold correctly, but we want to make sure that we have the best opportunity to get the part right the first time.”
“When we started using international suppliers for some of our injection-molded components, we realized that communication could be a challenge, requiring numerous trials before the final sample was approved,” Blackman adds. “We decided that we could not afford such delays, so we purchased SOLIDWORKSPlastics. The software lets us address design errors that create molding issues as well as highlight issues to the toolmakers beforehand, giving them insight into where the injection point should be, where we could expect air traps (allowing them to design venting in these areas), where we could change gate position to eliminate weld lines, and what size machine would be required to inject successfully.”
VISUALIZATION SPEEDS UP MARKETING AND DOCUMENTATION
Centurion also leverages SOLIDWORKS Visualize Professional photorealistic rendering software to accelerate marketing initiatives and SOLIDWORKS Composer™ software to facilitate documentation production. Both applications enable the company to leverage its SOLIDWORKS 3D design data for important functions that are not specifically related to product design.
“To market our products well, we need tools that allow us to quickly render quality images for brochures as well as video content for the web,” Blackman explains. “Because we are on Subscription, SOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard comes with SOLIDWORKS Premium. With SOLIDWORKSVisualize, our engineers often render images of their concepts to sell their ideas to the various stakeholders in the company.However, the marketing team has to sell our products to the world. This is why we decided to purchase SOLIDWORKSVisualize Professional. We wanted to leverage the popularity ofYouTube®and Facebook and really create content that appealed to our target market.
“We use SOLIDWORKS Composer to create all of our installation manuals,” Blackman notes. “SOLIDWORKS Composer gives us the ability to use our CAD data at a much earlier stage of the development process, so we can start laying out our manuals long before the product design is finalized. This saves our graphic designers a large amount of work, giving them time to focus on information that is important to our customers. We sell products in many different countries, so tools like Composer are critical to minimizing the amount of words used in our installation manuals, relying on clear, concise illustrations that speak a thousand words.”
INNOVATING ACCESS CONTROL PRODUCTS OF THE FUTUREWith integrated SOLIDWORKS solutions, Centurion can tap a range of capabilities that help the company develop and introduce innovative products. A recent example is the G-ULTRA remote access control system, which uses the GSM cellular phone standard to enable a variety of remotely controlled security and access automation applications. “Although theG-ULTRA is primarily an electromechanical product, we needed to heavily focus on aesthetics and size,” Blackman says. “To make it a successful product, we needed to utilize all aspects of the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem.”
“SOLIDWORKS allowed us to seamlessly work with Altium® electronic design STEP files, making the process of working in ECAD and MCAD significantly easier,” Blackman adds. “We were able to cross-check the tool designs and gating using SOLIDWORKS Plastics, constructed world-class user manuals with SOLIDWORKS Composer, and created brochures and launched videos using SOLIDWORKS Visualize. By having SOLIDWORKS as our solution, we were able to not only design a world-class product, but were also able to leverage the capabilities of the various add-ins to put us ahead of our competition.”