Bolt Engineering is a small South African engineering firm that specialises in the design and manufacturing of custom tools, jigs and fixtures for the manufacturing industry. Founded in 2010, the business started with a single computer in an old sewing room doing CAD design for companies in the automotive and trucking industries. By designing prototypes, production components, moulds and dies, Bolt Engineering built a reputation on offering the best service levels with the fastest lead times possible. At first, the company outsourced its manufacturing requirements but eventually, the workflow started lagging due to manufacture constraints and limitations. This lead to the decision to expand the business and include in-house manufacturing in its service offering. Today, Bolt Engineering services a range of clients across various industries including, Henred Freuhauf and L&J tools and Engineering as well as numerous manufacturers that form part of Toyota’s supply chain.
About the project
Designing the machines that build the products around us is a complicated and intricate process. The vehicle manufacturing industry demands an incredibly high level of standards with strict guidelines to adhere to. There is no room for error in any part of its process from design to manufacture. By utilising the sophisticated CAD and CAM capabilities of Autodesk Fusion 360, Bolt Engineering can now compete in an industry that often looks internationally for cheaper solutions.
“It’s easy for companies to look globally as you can get anything made anywhere” says Richard Hansen, [Managing Member]. “For us it’s about keeping it local and that is our biggest draw card, lead time. The faster we can make something, the more desirable we are to our clients.” By owning the entire process, Bolt Engineering was able to offer a one-stop solution with quick turn-around times in design and manufacture.
In such tough global economic conditions, businesses across the board are searching out greater value for the money they spend. “Having the competitive advantage locally, means we can ultimately compete globally,” adds Hansen. “When it comes to manufacturing, we are seeing that our clients prefer to have their suppliers on the ground and close by. It just makes sense for them logistically.”
“Migrating to Fusion 360 was so easy, it blew me away how easy and user friendly it was, while giving us more features than we know what to do with.” Richard Hansen [Managing Member]
As soon as Bolt Engineering expanded its services to manufacturing, its software requirements became infinitely more complex. A complexity that Autodesk has completely mitigated for this design and manufacturing firm. By offering a single software solution that handles the entire process from design to manufacture, Bolt Engineering was able to further improve project efficiencies and lead times. Moreover, the cloud-based Fusion 360 completely reshaped the workflow capabilities of its engineers.
“We were still sharing project files on a USB drive before we migrated to the cloud-based Fusion 360” says Hansen. To eliminate any design work being overwritten or incorrect version files being sent for manufacturing, Fusion 360 offers version control and file management capabilities. This gives each engineer access to the latest versions (or any version) of the project’s design files.
“The switch-over was a painless process and migrating all our settings made the learning curve virtually non-existent” says Hansen. “Fusion 360 even imported all our old data files natively, we did not have to spend more money on licenses for additional file readers or importers.”
Getting the competitive advantage in the automotive manufacturing industry requires fast turnaround times on production, as well as managing the costs of your entire production chain. Every manufacturing business has to compete on a global level to ensure their customers don’t find a cheaper solution elsewhere. Managing the quality standards that the automotive industry demand is only half of the battle. “We are always trying to make stuff faster, and for less, while maintaining the same high-quality standards that are demanded of us” says Hansen. “By owning the chain from design to manufacture, we can ensure that we maintain these high-levels while managing costs each step of the way.”
It took little to no time for the company’s engineers to migrate their platform to Autodesk Fusion 360. The short learning curve and intelligent import functions meant that their engineers had a seamless transition. They also had support at their fingertips in the form of a dedicated Autodesk support forum and local on-site support. “Very little support or training was required to get Bolt up and running in Fusion 360. I think this speaks mountains for how intuitive and easy to learn Fusion 360 really is” says Clive de Lange, Business Development manager at Modena, an Autodesk Platinum Partner.
Being more efficient during every step of the process is Bolt Engineering’s key focus. By implementing Autodesk Fusion 360, the company significantly cut down on waste during manufacturing. This include savings on tooling and machining based off old or incorrect design versions. There have also been significant time savings for Bolt Engineering, in one example, the time to generate a toolpath has been reduced by 35%.
The biggest gain achieved by Bolt Engineering in moving to Autodesk is a 25% saving on machine time. This means it takes them a lot less time to produce each part, this is a major win in any production environment.
The cost savings for Bolt Engineering was quite significant compared to the licenses required for the software from which they migrated. When migrating to Autodesk, the company’s annual license fees dropped by a factor of 10x which meant that additional seats could be acquired, thus improving their productivity.
“Businesses have become accustomed to the traditionally high costs of CAD/CAM software. Bolt’s success with Fusion 360 is proof that customers no longer need to pay the earth for powerful CAD/CAM technology” says de Lange. Furthermore, Autodesk’s Fusion 360 featured integration with both the CAD and CAM components the company needs. The cloud-based features of Autodesk Fusion 360 also mean that the company is secured against hardware theft. With the automatic backup of all project files, the engineers can be up and running from anywhere in the world, they just need a connection to the Internet. By having all of their data in place, the company has saved over 6-man hours per month. Interestingly, the company has also reduced their printing output by 30% as a result of their improved workflow environment. Another major cost saving for Bolt Engineering was that they no longer needed to purchase costly third-party file readers to import the various file formats sent to them by clients