Comus is a global manufacturer and supplier of switches and sensors used by electronics companies around the world, with facilities in New Jersey, Belgium, India, Holland, and Essex (UK). Their commitment to delivering solutions to customers has positioned themselves as one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of reed switches, inductive sensors, and pressure switches.
Up until the late ‘90s, Comus’ design team relied on a combination of AutoCAD and pen and paper. Their product development process was far from streamlined, and included many cycles of iteration that involved both the production and design teams working together to produce a manufacturable design. In 2007, Comus Europe invested in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD software from Innova Systems to help cope with the increasing demands of their customer base as they demanded more bespoke and complex applications of their standard products.
Much of the benefit of using a system like SOLIDWORKS is that it is easy to design with manufacturability in mind. The ability to create a virtual prototype has allowed Comus’s product development team to produce a complete design without the need to involve the production team. The iterative cycles that once interrupted production can now be carried out wholly inside of SOLIDWORKS. John Harper, Production Engineer and principal designer at Comus, says “Assembly validation tools like interference detection allow us to send designs to manufacture knowing that they are right first time. Potential issues are solved before production even sees the design. SOLIDWORKS thinks like I do!”
Comus offers a bespoke design service, much of which involves modifying standard products for a unique application. In SOLIDWORKS it is possible to create a toolbox of standard parts and components that can be dragged and dropped into an assembly. This has made designing to specification a much more efficient process and allows Comus to deliver a superior level of service to its customers.
In March 2012, Comus’s business took a different route. Previously, their products consisted solely of components to the electronic industry. With the aid of SOLIDWORKS, they have been able to produce a completely finished item – an aftermarket plastic moulded tail-light for the commercial automotive industry. Using Comus’ own tilt sensors, the product senses when the tail lift has been lowered and emits a flashing light. Nick Gilbert, the Sales Manager responsible for the development of the new product says, “SOLIDWORKS has opened up new possibilities and allows us to design far more complex products than we ever could before.” This new product represents a total departure from the norm for Comus – it involved a whole host of techniques and practices (including surfacing and mould creation) that were completely new to them. “This kind of design would have been unthinkable without SOLIDWORKS, and Innova Systems’s ongoing technical support and training were instrumental in designing the new product.” A number of tail lift manufacturers including Maxon and Ratcliff Palfinger have already placed orders for the tail lift light, with interest building for future models.
In the development of this new product, it was important that all of Comus’ offices around the world could communicate and collaborate during the design process. A number of different CAD packages are in use throughout the Comus group, it was therefore important that SOLIDWORKS could communicate with them all. When it came to collaboration between these systems, SOLIDWORKS excelled. SOLIDWORKS can read in files from any CAD system; it also produces accurate DWG, STEP, and IGES files that are universally accepted file formats. When communicating the design of the new product with clients like Maxon, the ability to create 3D PDFs – 3D models that can be manipulated in Adobe Acrobat – helped Comus to show people exactly how the finished item would look. Sending their products to be manufactured externally has been a much easier task with SOLIDWORKS. While 2D drawings can be open to interpretation, a 3D model communicates design intent perfectly and for Comus has completely streamlined their outsourcing processes.
John Harper’s role at Comus is first and foremost as Production Engineer, with design making up a smaller part of his work. His use of SOLIDWORKS is therefore intermittent at times. “Innova Systems’s Support Team is always there to answer our how-to questions – no matter how simple or complex they are. There are some great resources online – video tutorials, knowledge bases – but Innova Systems always resolve our problems as quickly as possible. If it can’t be answered over the phone, their GoToMeeting service lets the Support Engineer resolve the issue for us instantly.”
Ed Hawkins, Technical Manager at Innova Systems, says “Innova Systems Technical Support is consistently rated the best in the UK amongst other SOLIDWORKS resellers. We give all our customers a personal commitment when it comes to ongoing support; no ticketing system, no hold music, just a direct line to a highly qualified SOLIDWORKS engineer when you need it most.”
Comus is a great example of how investing in the intelligent modelling capabilities of SOLIDWORKS can transform a business and open up new possibilities. If you’d like to see how SOLIDWORKS can help your business, sign up for a web demo today or call Innova Systems on 01223 200690.