The “Rules of thumb” to get full flexibility from your AHU design solution
The title is, of course, a paradox (and I’m sure you realized it).
In this article I’d like to speak about real and well-defined rules (the opposite of “rules of thumb” mentioned in the headline) to help AHU manufacturers to afford the issue linked to flexibility demands.
Flexibility in AHU design
As a modern AHU manufacturer, I’m sure you dealt with the following (or similar) issue many times.
You customer has space constraint: this means that your AHU must fit a reduced and well defined room. In many cases, your standard units catalogue doesn’t help at all: you need to design a bespoke AHU.
This means that if in your standard unit catalogue you have sizeN and sizeM models (for which you have predefined the frontal size, all the drawings needed for the production and for which you know very well the costs), in the specific case you need to design a new unit, with a new “sizeY” that is in the range “sizeN- sizeM”.
I’m pretty sure that, thank you to your experience, you managed to cope with this situation in different ways. For example, your technical department engineers can use the 3D solid model (if any) of a predefined unit and “stretch” it to get the needed dimensions. They can also take the existing 2D CAD drawings and adapt them to the new constraint and generate the documentation needed in the manufacturing phase.
Whatever is the workaround solution you adopt, some important drawbacks can be identified; among the others, I’d like to underline the following:
- lack of cost control: most likely, you can say that the cost of new unit sizeY of our example will be between the cost of sizeN and cost sizeM similar unit, but you can’t be more accurate than this;
- lack of time control: the process is slow, because you need to do it manually.
As alternative, you can ask you AHU design software to do the job for you.
Paving the way to automation in AHU manufacturing
ENGINEERING COMPANIES NEW CHALLENGE: SHOWING THE BEST WAY
Mechanical industry, nowadays, asks a challenging requirement to engineering companies that aim to be their partner: providing a full set of professional services and solutions to manufacturers, targeting their changing and day-by-day demanding needs. By integrating the leading edge design approach with traditional engineering principles, a skilled and modern engineering company must provide clients with a “First to Market Time” innovative approach, appealing product designs on time and on budget.
These results can be reached by harmonizing creative and innovative thinking, well consolidated experience and knowledge from science and theory, to support customers from the initial idea to finished product (“concept to production” approach). To say it a different way, an engineering company should provide customized / individual consulting services for new ideas and cost reduction and product improvements for manufacturers existing portfolio.
Years of experience in dealing with product engineering place the engineering company’s expertise well beyond just mechanical engineering and industrial design activities. By recognizing different situations and specific goals of each individual client, they can make necessary adjustments to the design and production processes and related activities. The ability to anticipate possible outcomes based on past experience and unique view of different realities empower the engineering company to select the best product development path and recommend right and safe technical decisions in order to maximize the results while minimizing costs.
AHU manufacturing automation: few things a software house won’t tell you
As AHU manufacturer, you have your own very specific an peculiar needs: in Altec, we realized it thanks to our more than twenty-years’ experience in strict contact with the HVAC market and with AHU producers.
But as a manufacturing company, you share also common needs with the manufacturing marketing in general: for example, you need to make enough product at acceptable quality levels in order to reduce scrap product and keep volume fulfilment high.
Or, better, this happened in the past: today this is not enough. In the recent years, most likely you faced a more strict issue.
Things started to change in 2000 in manufacturing industry. Due to a pronounced decline in product demand and a rise in offshore manufacturing competition, manufacturers expanded their methods and practices to include making the right products, at the right time, at the right cost.
Doing this “right stuff” requires companies to provide agile response to real-time customer order updates and small order lots, continuous supply-chain coordination, and never-ending cost reductions in manufacturing processes, all the while complying with, and proving compliance to, governmental health, financial, and environmental regulations.
These post-2000 competition-inhibiting constraints are real, critical survival matters for companies that face stiff competition from low-cost manufacturing centers.
Altec is online: AHUmagazine special edition
The greatest advantage an engineering company providing software solution for selection and production automation can deliver to an AHU manufacturer is the product development expertise and management of the whole product development process.
The knowledge of the market trends and of user expectations, in conjunction with a deep expertise in the manufacturing environments, represents a necessary link between the solutions from various disciplines integrated into an optimized solution and management of the product development process: from “Concept to Production”.