For Mailcode, a Pitney Bowes Company, honoring customer commitments is the foundation of its success. The true challenge for the mail processing solution provider is to continue to honor these commitments and individualize itself in an industry that has whittled itself down to about four key players.
“At this point we’re fighting to differentiate ourselves, and engineering,
creativity and the functionality we offer is how we do that,” said Mailcode Manager of Mechanical Engineering, David Purcell. “Using tools like SolidWorks and partnering with companies like CATI helps us to set ourselves apart from our competitors.”
Mailcode designs various types of mail-sorting equipment and machinery, and state on their website that, “Our innovative engineering and design concepts enable us to be at the forefront of the mailing industry, providing cutting-edge postal automation equipment.” After realizing the benefits of SolidWorks, Purcell knew that they would need to abandon the Cadkey tools they had previously used to remain at the forefront.
“With Cadkey, the associativity between the drawing and the model didn’t translate well to the way we were doing things. For example, if you changed a model, you’d have to manually fix or completely re-do the drawing,” Purcell explained. “Also, there was no way to export a bill of materials from Cadkey, so we were constantly chasing our tails at that point.”
Purcell initially purchased a single license of SolidWorks, before adding 11 more seats to their collection about six months later. At that point, the new challenge became ramping-up with the new engineering tool.
Purcell said Mailcode’s first big project to be completed with SolidWorks
was looming, and it was quite a bit larger than anything they had done before. Mailcode had a temporary engineer on staff at the time to help with the implementation, but Purcell knew they would require more assistance.
“We were trying to learn as much about SolidWorks as we could as fast as possible. That’s when we decided to sign-up for the CATI CATalyst program,” he said. Mailcode sent nine engineers through the intensive, bundled training program, and they each averaged six classes that first year. “The CATalyst program was very valuable. It worked out very well for us.” Purcell said he had absolutely no exposure to parametric modeling prior to the CATI SolidWorks classes, and claims it was key to getting up to speed quickly.
In addition to the CATalyst training courses, Mailcode engineers were also equipped with CATI’s exclusive Priority Help Desk (PhD) Program for technical support. CATI PhD support offers high-priority status to members, as well as extended support hours, a webex support environment to enhance communication with engineers and “Nth degree” resolution to better assist customers with design intent above and beyond just software functionality.
Purcell also quickly learned that partnering with CATI would benefit him with PDM, product data management.
“I knew that the sheer number of files generated by SolidWorks would incrementally grow as we added more projects, and more people,” Purcell said.
With assistance from CATI subsidiary, InFlow Technology, Purcell stated that his department has better control of the entire product development process including all of the generated documentation that accompanies one single piece of machinery.
Looking toward the future, Purcell is eager to use the Design Checker feature in SolidWorks 2006, and hopes to add SolidWorks Routing to their toolset.
“My goal is to start tying the electrical design into the mechanical design so that we can all get done at the same time, and output a complete automated bill of materials simultaneously,” he said.
With SolidWorks and a CATI partnership, Purcell and his team will continue to keep Mailcode on the cutting-edge of its industry. And, as promised, they will also maintain their focus on delivering commitments to their customers.
“Some of our customers run our machines 18 to 24 hours a day, and these machines pump out more than 36,000 pieces of mail per hour. We’re talking half-a-million to three-quarters of a million of pieces of mail a day, usually six days a week,” he explained. “Our goal is to offer the best value/functionality in the market today. We have to do that by turning around designs quickly and accurately. SolidWorks and CATI have enabled us to come much closer to that goal.”
Summary & Metrics
- Gained the ability to generate an automated bill of materials
- Toolbox has reduced re-creation of standard parts to almost zero
- Time saved in creating similar assemblies in SolidWorks: Nearly 75%
- Reduction in errors released to production: 60% based on ECR/ECO count
- Created assemblies with more than 4,000 individual parts
- Can now manage product data, including engineering change orders (ECOs), and bills of material (BOMs).