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JCM Seating Solutions (JCM)

jcm_seating_tx11_390JCM Increasing Mobility

Working with AutoDesk Partner, Micro Concepts, JCM Seating Solutions (JCM) has found Inventor to be the ideal design tool to spearhead its drive into new markets

Formed in 1992, Lincolnshire-based JCM has quickly grown to become one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of specialised seating.  It has established a particularly strong presence in the healthcare and social services sectors and now exports to some 16 countries worldwide. JCM has long experience of working with AutoCAD and two years ago saw a demonstration of 3-D modelling, “which opened our eyes to the possibilities of how we could improve the quality of design and communicate with our customers,” recalls operations director, Wayne Killick.

During an extensive market review, he talked to leading engineering solutions provider, Micro Concepts and, as a result, selected Autodesk Inventor Series as being best suited to solving the design challenges JCM faced.  “Micro Concepts fully understood the particular demands of our business and Inventor provided the flexible and responsive solution we required,” he confirms.

“Importantly, we also saw the move to solid modelling in terms of a long-term investment and  Autodesk gave us the confidence of a very clear roadmap regarding Inventor’s planned development.  At the same time, as a sister product on a similar platform to our existing AutoCAD software, the transition to 3-D modelling was also likely to be much smoother.”

For Killick, Inventor’s highly intuitive architecture meant that it was very easy to learn and was able to deliver measurable benefits almost immediately.  For example, at that time up to 30 percent of his working day was taken up with managing the design: “even a small change had to be carried through to at least three or four drawings,” he says.  “This was inevitably prone to problems of omission and error and took up time which could be better used for creating new designs.

"Inventor’s parametric capabilities have solved the problem of making such amendments.  As every change is automatically carried through every related drawing, the nightmare of managing drawing versions has totally disappeared."

JCM’s manufacturing and purchasing departments have also benefited, as Inventor enables bills of materials to be produced automatically; equally, much time is saved as Inventor files are easily transferred to the company’s CAM system and so can be used to produce instruction manuals and assembly drawings.

jcm_seating_sunbeam1_390Fundamental change

Now in use for nearly two years at JCM, Inventor sits at the heart of the complete development life-cycle, from initial concept design to final testing, and for Killick has become ‘truly mission-critical’.

Some 90 percent of JCM’s development work is driven by the market and JCM clients are increasingly involved at design stage.  In response, the quality of the 3-D solid model, together with the ability to make changes instantly, means that customers with little or no design office expertise can see how the product will work and so can contribute effectively to the design process. 

“At the same time, it gives our clients greater confidence in the design to meet their requirements,” adds Killick.  “Similarly, in new business presentations, the ability to show life-like prototype models of what we can offer has also given us considerable competitive advantage.”

Though the basic seating product is not an inherently complex design, it has large number of additional features which are hard to assess in 2-D.  “Inventor comes into its own in such situations,” confirms Micro Concepts’ Mills, “as it allows designers to visualise the product clearly at each stage, taking account of aspects such as tilt angles and weight limits in achieving the optimum design.”

Product support

JCM also benefits from Micro Concepts’ Silver Support Subscription programme, designed to make users aware of the new functionality and benefits of the latest version of Inventor, examining new modelling features together with draughting and data management enhancements.

Through the subscription programme, Micro Concepts has helped JCM derive maximum benefit from Inventor, dramatically cutting product development times.  “Previously, it would typically take six to eight months to take a product from initial concept to launch,” confirms Killick.  “By contrast, in using Inventor this has been reduced to as little as two months.  As a result, in the short time since we adopted the new Autodesk software, we have been able to develop and launch at least five major new products.” 

Mills agrees and adds: “JCM is typical of many small to medium manufacturing companies who do not have the luxury of large manufacturing design departments.  Inventor enables them to compete in tough global markets by helping them get products to market quickly and successfully.”    

jcm_seating_tx12_390New markets

Perhaps the most important contribution Inventor has made at JCM has been to free up time for the company to look at expanding into new markets.  Historically, much of the company’s business has focused on the provision of seating products for disabled children: as a result of the efficiencies achieved, JCM’s current business development strategy incorporates expansion into such related areas as wheelchairs and specialist seating for disabled adults and the elderly.

Killick also points to other planned developments, such as using the high quality graphics available in Inventor to improve marketing support materials and developing the commercial potential of the Web.  “There is no doubt that, without the support of Micro Concepts and Autodesk’s Inventor, we would not be able to take advantage of the new business opportunities now open to us,” he concludes.


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