- Reduced prototypes from three to just one and prototype testing from eight weeks to one day
- Estimated savings of over $45,000 in prototype tooling costs alone
ACO Drain, a division of ACO Technologies PLC, in Shefford, UK, improves drainage installation and performance with products such as roadway drains, grates, and manhole covers, using advanced materials and design techniques that improve installation and performance. To develop a new product, the ACO KerbDrain, which allows water to flow through holes in the curbstone and channels it down the center using the curb itself as the drain, ACO Drain faced several challenges. The company needed to create more complex assemblies and designs than its AutoCAD software could handle and to develop new production techniques to cast the product in a single pour and color it during the process.
After a challenge to SolidWorks and AutoCAD to simulate its drainage products, ACO Drain chose SolidWorks software for solid modeling and SolidWorks Simulation software for finite element analysis because of their accuracy, as well as their usability and cost. SolidWorks provided ease and flexibility in designing complex assemblies with optimal fit and in designing and manipulating complex surfaces. Seamlessly integrated with SolidWorks CAD software, SolidWorks Simulation helped the designers understand exactly where the KerbDrain designs might fail under certain load conditions. Identifying the failure points would have been difficult in a physical test, because prototypes can collapse without warning. The SolidWorks Simulation computer model provided a more realistic picture of the loads the KerbDrain could withstand. SolidWorks Simulation software also showed the nature of potential failures. The designers tried different what-if scenarios and optimized the results. In the end, ACO Drain was able to reduce the number of physical prototypes, saving time and money, while producing a highly successful product. The KerbDrain has received the prestigious Queens Award for Enterprise: Innovation, and the United Kingdom Design Council awarded the company its Millennium status.