When a company says its vision is to be recognised as a world class designer and a manufacturer of performance-critical solutions, it has to have a lot of confidence in its ability and technology.
Archer Enterprises was founded by the Byrne family 36 years ago in New South Wales and today it is operated by the second and third generations. They provide highly specialised precision design, engineering and manufacturing services with a focus on niche applications such as safety, asset protection, defence industry, resources and utility sectors.
“We manufacture high-precision components including valves and fittings for fluid-handling and fire-protection systems. These are ‘critical applications’ - they cannot fail”, explains Managing Director, Steve Byrne.
“We make them from materials like austenitic and duplex stainless steels and aluminium bronze which are difficult materials to machine. We have established a strong reputation for achieving consistently high quality output with rapid turnaround.”
He adds, “It’s one thing to produce a one-off quality part where many hours are spent working on it and you allow for numerous rejects. We are different in that we produce quantities of tens, hundreds or thousands of complex parts and we maintain exceptionally high standards and manufacturing efficiencies throughout the entire run. We can’t afford to be exhausting hours and wasting kilograms of material to achieve these parts. Machining these difficult-to-machine materials efficiently, and producing a usable part every time you go to cut metal, is crucial to your profitability. TopSolid helps us achieve these results.”
More than being precision manufacturers, Archer Enterprises are very focused on developing their own intellectual property (IP). This is where TopSolid - from CIM Solutions - is giving them a competitive edge.
The relationship with TopSolid began when the Archer team was looking to invest in more advanced technology, such as their 7- and 9-axis CNC machines. They had been using a standard 2D CAD tool and when they saw the abilities of this 3D solution they were all very impressed, “We then had a look around at other CAD packages because it seemed that TopSolid was too good to be true”, says Operations Director, Russell Byrne.
“People underestimate CAD but it has a very important part to play in getting efficient outcomes. With a good 3D CAD tool you get reliability gains as well as increased productivity"
The Archer team wanted a package which offered more than accurate three dimensional design. It had to have the highest level of integration with their major CNC machine tool investments. After a lot of research TopSolid was chosen because, along with its powerful CAD-PDM-ERP features, it includes class-leading CAM capabilities.
CIM Solutions provided the CAD and CAM training.
“We found that TopSolid was quite easy to use. The user interface is very intuitive, for example the icons are very logical. When you want to move an object you select the trolley, when you want to change the shape of something you click on the spanner, and so on.”
Russell says TopSolid has been "absolutely beneficial" in assisting Archer Enterprises to develop new products, “TopSolid is such a powerful tool. I start off with an idea...we design and make everything here - the body, handles, seals, casing, spindles, nuts out of brass and stainless steel, and mounting brackets. I can see the full assembly, animate it, apply analysis to it, and then see a simulation of the CNC tool path to detect clashes and to plan my production cycles. ”
“What CIM Solutions has given us is a turn-key solution. We only need to have one strategic partner throughout the process of design-to-manufacture. They understand the full path from the drawing to having it machined. They are a one-stop-shop.”
He adds, “I have heard other manufacturers talk about the challenges they face between design and manufacture but, because we started with TopSolid and not one of the other CAD products, we have never had any of those issues.”
“I like the fact that I can design and test at the same time. TopSolid automates our products and places them in a real-world environment. When we’re doing work for a third party I can send video files of the parts so that they understand what we’re doing without us having to be face-to-face in the room or have a physical part in their hands.”
Russell says TopSolid has helped them to build stronger relationships with customers and stakeholders, “A customer asked us to design something and in no time using TopSolid I had modelled it and put Finite Element Analysis (FEA) loads on it to prove its performance. He was astounded that we could do all this, and in such a short time. On another occasion I was invited to a function hosted by a global manufacturing-supply company. The day before I decided I’d make a memento for the other guests. In very little time I had designed a contemporary bottle opener keyring with our engraved logo and contact details. It was then machined from grade 316 stainless steel. The other guests almost didn’t believe me that I could design something with that degree of detail and then machine a batch from stainless in just a few hours. It was at that same meeting that I heard other manufacturers complaining about issues they have with their CAM. Since we’ve had Top Solid we haven’t experienced any of those problems. I saw that Archer Enterprises is in a better situation than they are.”
Archer Enterprises is on an exciting growth path and is looking at moving into other areas of manufacturing such as composites. “TopSolid is a vital tool at Archer Enterprises and we regard CIM Solutions as a strategic partner. They are instrumental in our plans to take this company to a whole new level.”
“CIM Solutions is extremely proud of our association with Archer”, says CIM Solutions Managing Director Steve Thomas, “It is a real pleasure to see a company take the time to embrace TopSolid, use it well, and to realise just how powerful it is and then utilise this technology as a competitive advantage.”