Lintott Control Systems
Complex Assemblies – No Problem for Lintott Control Systems
With Micro Concept’s help, water treatment specialist discovers the power of Inventor
Designing large assemblies can be fraught with difficulties. You need to break the design down into manageable chunks of work, yet, it‘s still important to be able to view the product in its entirety to check that everything co-ordinates and fits together.
Yet, it’s often too time-consuming and too expensive to create physical prototypes of these huge, highly structured products every time a model is updated.
The design team in the Chemical Dosing Solutions (CDS) division of the Norwich-based company Lintott Control Systems face these challenges in their day-to-day work developing total solutions for major clients within the water treatment industry. Their answer has been to work with mechanical and electrical design specialist Micro Concepts and to implement Autodesk Inventor 3D manufacturing design software to create digital prototypes of their designs.
As Richard Brodowski of Lintott explains, this move has helped them to successfully complete a particularly testing project with size constraints. It is also allowing the division to take on projects of a much larger scale.
“Without Inventor, this project would have proved almost impossible and a lot of changes to the design would have had to be made when assembling the machine, adding huge costs. Designing in 3D has really changed the way we work in this respect,” he says.
A perfect fit
Lintott Control Systems is one of the UK’s leading systems integrators specialising in motor control centres, process software, telemetry infrastructure, chemical dosing and water quality monitoring systems. The company has been a process solutions provider for blue-chip utility clients and process industry companies for over 25 years.
The CDS division specialises in solutions for water treatment including ways of removing copper and phosphates from drinking water as well as equipment for pH balancing and chlorine disinfection. These packaged systems generally include pumps, distribution boards, control panels, and chemical storage tanks all contained in one standalone unit.
Obviously fitting all of these elements into a single unit is a complex task. As a result, each system can take anything from 4 - 12 weeks to design and can contain up to 4,000 components.
The firm had been using AutoCAD Mechanical, but according to Richard Brodowski: “We were looking to upgrade to a package that would allow us to view our complete designs in real time. We were also keen to be able to communicate our models to our clients before they were built.”
After surveying the market, it decided to stay with Autodesk: “There was really no reason for us to change and by choosing Inventor we could still benefit from using our legacy data. Also, as Inventor enables both 2D and 3D design it meant we could use whichever method was better for the job in hand rather than going totally all out for 3D. We felt confident that Inventor was the right solution for us.”
As soon as they had made this decision, Autodesk reseller Micro Concepts came in and installed the system, and also helped Lintott Control Systems make key choices on hardware. “Due to the size of our designs they advised us to invest in more powerful computers. They provided us with the exact specification of what we needed, enabling us to make an informed purchase. They were really committed to making sure that all the technology worked for us as a company,” says Richard Brodowski.
To complete the investment, Lintott Control Systems also opted for Micro Concept’s training to ensure it maximised its new software. This covered everything from basic skills such as how to create and edit documents to DWG interoperability and 3D sketching.
Lintott Control Systems is still developing its use of Inventor. For example, it is currently creating a library of components; this currently stands at 6,200 and is growing all the time. But, after dipping its toes in the water at the beginning of this year with one seat, it recently made the decision to purchase another five seats.
Now it is definitely beginning to reap the benefits. Richard Brodowski explains how they have just finished one particular project where, due to the constraints of the building where the solution was due to be housed, the pumps and various other design elements had to be fitted into an extremely tight space.
By making a digital prototype of the equipment, the team could check that the design was feasible, with no clashes or mismatched elements. It also meant that they could ensure any elements of the design that may need to be accessible for maintenance were in the right places.
Because of Inventor’s parametric change management, not only does the model update itself when changes are made, but it also co-ordinates the database behind it. This means Inventor can always produce an accurate and totally updated bill of materials (BOM). “This has allowed us to be more accurate and saves us the time of counting up what is needed manually,” explains Richard Brodowski.
Lintott has also used Inventor’s animation capability to demonstrate its products to customers. “This enables them to experience what we can do before it is built – and gives them confidence that we can deliver what we promise,” says Richard Brodowski.
Now the software is helping the CDS division be more ambitious in the projects it goes after. As Richard Brodowski explains, “We are in the process of pursuing another contract which, if it goes ahead, will involve tens of thousands of different components. Using Inventor and the capacity of new machines, we are confident that we have the technology and the skills to deliver results on large projects like this.”
“Thanks to Micro Concepts training and expertise, Inventor has become an extremely powerful tool for us as a company. True, we’ve put time and resources into the deployment but we’ve already had a good return on this investment.”
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