Following a eureka moment experienced by founder, Alun Hobbs, Caerphilly-based Hobbs Valve have made their name as a specialist manufacturer of the triple offset butterfly valve; a new design, with better flow, improved reliability and substantially less maintenance downtime than other solutions.
Innova Systems Business Development Manager, Mike Jones, visited Hobbs Valve to find out how they’re using SOLIDWORKS to drive the design and development of the company’s innovative products.
Why are Hobbs Valve using SOLIDWORKS?
“We’ve used SOLIDWORKS from year dot, really, and it benefits the whole company, not just the product designers”. said Gavin Wheeler, Sales Director at Hobbs Valve. “I use it myself as a sales tool when I’m out and about on the road. It’s utilised throughout the company and at every stage, from concept, where the engineering team are building the models – every nut and bolt – all the way through to the manufacturing of the valve in the machine shop”, continued Gavin.
General manager at Hobbs Valve, Bethan Abram, agrees: “It’s incredibly important, particularly for the type of organisation that we are. We deal with a lot of bespoke manufacturing options and it allows us to provide solutions for our customers”.
“As someone who isn’t an engineer, I find that I’ve been able to pick up SOLIDWORKS quickly and can navigate through the system very easily to be able to support the guys when they need my assistance”
Making use of new technology at Hobbs Valve
Just as technology continues to evolve, so does SOLIDWORKS, and 3D Printing and Augmented Reality (AR) are two tools Hobbs Valve are particularly keen to take advantage of. Sales Director, Gavin Wheeler, explains: “Carting 20 or 30 Kilogram valves round all over the world isn’t much fun, so I tasked the design team to produce 3D printed models for us using SOLIDWORKS. This has taken the weight down to less than a kilo, which is a lot easier to handle. I also make use of AR when demoing our products to clients. We use a printed QR code to then utilise in eDrawings. These are full 3D models that we can move, highlight certain sections of and really hone in on certain features and benefits that we are trying to offer our clients”.
“It’s all about visualisation and seeing is believing for me”
What the design team thinks of SOLIDWORKS
Design engineer, Jack, has tried a few different CAD systems and is in no doubt about his preference: “The SOLIDWORKS user interface is by far the best, other CAD software can feel a bit dated, SOLIDWORKS just feels a lot more up-to-date, everything looks clean and nice”, said Jack. It’s not just what it looks like, either. The design team at Hobbs Valve have been particularly impressed with how much time can be saved by using design tables in SOLIDWORKS, as Jack explains: “Design tables are really good, because we can just use Excel to plan out all the dimensions, tolerances, gaps before importing this into SOLIDWORKS, where the model is automatically made for us. This makes everything a lot faster because we have been able to make a range of products with just a couple of people in quick time.”
Hobbs Valve are also making use of virtual testing offered by SOLIDWORKS Simulation, which is saving time and money by reducing the need for physical prototyping as Jack explains: “We also do structural analysis. Once we’ve made everything, we need to make sure that it stands up and there’s only so much you can do using CAD. We also use finite element analysis (FEA). Simulation saves a lot of time and money because if you were not simulating, you’d be spending a lot of money on physical tests. If you wanted to find out where and when your shaft is going to break, you would have to literally…break the shaft! It just saves us so much money and time.”
Watch our exclusive video interview with the Hobbs Valve team
Take a look around Hobbs Valve in our exclusive video interview
Call Innova Systems on 01223 200690, or message us below to find out more.