Avance Design – Product Development

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Three person company Avance Design uses TeamPlatform as a vault for CAD, a project portal for their customers, and as a front-end for Request for Quotes (RFQ) and proposals (RFP) for new design and 3d printing projects allowing them to provide to the same design services available from companies 3x their size.

Avance Design Develops Products

Fewer and fewer small companies take on the challenge of mastering a broad range of technologies and tools, but that is exactly what principal and design engineer Tony Parker has accomplished.  Avance Design, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is an industrial design, engineering, and product development firm that brings the best of innovation, creativity and 3D technology to its customers.

From his very beginning Tony has been an early adopter of powerful and enabling technology.  Decisions such as choosing SolidWorks for his 3D design tools in the mid-90’s, to acquiring a 3D printer in the mid-2000’s and most recently introducing 3D scanning technologies at Avance.

“SolidWorks made a lot of sense from the first time I saw it, and I could use it immediately to develop sophisticated designs and we now use it for its powerful engineering and analysis tools, as well.  3D printing was another obvious step forward and allowed Avance to quickly turn concept and engineering into working prototypes to finalize product designs.”

Working closely with customers to deliver successful projects, Avance’s workload had grown quickly through a regular stream of referrals and repeat business.  Like any good business owner, Tony wanted to make sure the employees at his company (two industrial designers andone engineer) were working efficiently in their core of their business, product development, while maximizing the income from the company’s capital equipment, namely keeping their 3D printer running.

Efficiency Throughout the Development Cycle

For Avance, one of the easiest ways to improve efficiency was to improve organization of projects and product data late in the product development phase.   Although the team was armed with file and folder naming conventions to keep projects and product data organized, it became easy to lose track of the latest revision and latest file updates, especially when an updated files was buried deep in folder structure.

“Searching for files and looking for the latest version is tough as a project progresses.  Even when working in a small team, having good tools to organize files and design notes is really important.  But it is also important to make sure the organization tools don’t overwhelm the design process.”

Workgroup PDM was not a Good Fit

Avance tried a product for managing and organizing data called Workgroup PDM (or WPDM) which was a free add-on in their premium package of SolidWorks, but found the tools to be not intuitive and found that the costs outweighed the benefits for their small firm.  If setting up a dedicated server, installing client software, and configuring network settings for local and remote access via VPN wasn’t daunting enough, the overhead in setting up a new project and managing permissions for every new client project pushed it over the top.ood Fit

“My firm is paid to design, not to administer a network.  As much as I am a fan of SolidWorks for Avance, Workgroup PDM was not a good fit for my company.  Speed is important for Avance, and WPDM didn’t allow my company to work any faster or smarter.”

Efficient Solution for an Efficient Company

Instead of a PDM, Avance used a peer to peer network between employees to share project data, and used emails, attachments and outlook calendars to manage projects and interactions with clients, and even considered installing a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device until Tony discovered TeamPlatform.

“TeamPlatform gives our company speed and keeps us organized.  We weren’t able to find these benefits with PDM.”

Instant data management and deployment as a Customer Portal

Upon finding TeamPlatform, there was an immediate appreciation that the online tools would be able to manage their projects and product data, keeping employees interactions with customers and projects organized and well connected.  All of the tools Avance needed to track and managing assemblies, project milestones, file versions, and communication were built into TeamPlatform.

“Getting started with our first design project on TeamPlatform was easy.  We uploaded files, kept notes from design meetings, and updated CAD files within the workspace.  We quickly learned that we could use the Sync tool to synchronize files between TeamPlatform and our local PC’s, making it even easier to stay current with the project.”

What made TeamPlatform even more impressive was that we could create a project portal for our customers so they could stay in the loop.

“We were able to track assemblies and versions between designers and engineers within TeamPlatform.  This worked great as a project portal for our customers.”

With TeamPlatform, Avance maintains one workspace for every project, and has a single place for data management, project management, search and a customer portal.

“We like the intuitive interface of TeamPlatform, the simple but effective version control, and the visual display of files which makes it easy to search and identify files and CAD online”.

Avance keeps 3D printers busy with TeamPlatform

A second area of efficiency and improvement for Avance was freeing up costly man hours to develop a quote for 3D printing services, which in some cases required hours to generate a quote for as few as 6 parts.  By introducing TeamPlatform’s RFQ pages, Avance was able to create highly customized web-forms for a variety of the 3D printing services offered to dramatically streamline the 3D Print quoting process.

“We’ve enabled an instant quoting system for Avance by combining TeamPlatform’s pages, uploader, and geometry analysis tools to generate  highly accurate pricing based on an Excel-based formula.”

Quotes which used to take hours to create can now be generated in one click, which means faster and more accurate pricing to the customer, and keeps the RP machine running more frequently, and a machine that is running is a machine that is generating revenue.

“With TeamPlatform we no longer have to spend hours to generate a quote for 3D printing.”


What’s next

In addition to initiating 3D printing quotes, Avance has also used TeamPlatform pages to create a request for quote (RFQ) and request for proposal (RFP) forms with upload links to initiate design projects for new and existing customers.

By leveraging workspaces to manage projects, data and customer portals for Industrial Design and Enginering, and pages to initiate RFQ’s and RFP’s throughout the business, Avance Design is running a leaner operation, better services to their clients, and the 3 man company Avance is delivering like a 10 man company by using TeamPlatform.