Intech Solutions’ Sam Burton (left) and Steve Mitchell-Yorke
“It’s so easy to use it’s allowed our staff with no training or experience of design software to design and machine parts,” says Steve Mitchell-Yorke, manufacturing manager for Intech Solutions, the Stockport-based designers, manufacturers and installers of innovative technical furniture and control rooms.
CNC and edgebander operator Sam Burton was so taken with Cabinet Vision that he spent his lunchtimes in the CAD office learning about it. “Sam wanted to see what was creating all the magic for our Anderson Stratos CNC router, and within a week he could design whole jobs – which is just as well, as he undertook some urgent design work that came up when our full-time designer was on holiday,” explains Steve. “Because we had Cabinet Vision we were able to continue producing designs which we couldn’t have without it.”
Intech focuses on manufacturing control consoles for customers such as Harrods, Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, local authorities, shopping centres, department store TK-Maxx and the Imperial War Museum.
Steve says that with less than 3% of its work being repeats, its consoles are almost always completely bespoke – many of them having drop-down levels to accommodate screens – and are required to house computers and video recording equipment.
With the average job needing around 150 panels on swift turnaround times, the company realised last year that it needed to upgrade its software to produce accurate designs much quicker than it had been doing previously. Steve usually has a deadline of around six weeks from receiving an order, to the finished furniture being required.
“Within that time,” he says, “there could still be two or three weeks before the room is ready for us to carry out our survey, and after we’ve produced the initial design, we may still have to wait another week for final sign-off or amendments to be agreed. So we could be left with less than a fortnight to actually do the job. We only had 2D design software, and it was unrealistic to expect our designer to stay on top of his workload at the levels and accuracy demanded.”
So Intech decided to invest in Cabinet Vision Solid Ultimate for 3D design, and Screen-To-Machine to send the CNC codes to the Anderson. He also says it not only prompted Sam Burton to teach himself how to use it, but it is changing the mindset of other employees, too. “We have a project manager in his 50s who wouldn’t go near a computer before Cabinet Vision – now he’s drawing his own room plans for the first time.”
And Steve Mitchell-Yorke, who did not have hands-on CAD experience himself, is finding Cabinet Vision to be a complete revelation. “With our previous software the programming seemed too daunting. It wasn’t easy to get into and use. But Cabinet Vision is much more inviting and user friendly. It makes you think ‘yes – I can do this.’
Because it is possible to drag and drop parts from our library there’s always something we can easily work with to produce exactly what we need.”
The company has already stored around 30 parts in the library, and he expects that by the time it has finished populating it, there will be about 150, all of which can easily be edited to suit each individual job.
He says Intech Solutions has complex needs and demands a lot of its software: “There could be a fire panel, cabling that has to stay where it is, trunking on the walls – a multitude of things that will be in the way – therefore affecting our design. So we don’t have cabinets with standard height or width; in fact we don’t have standard anything. Also old buildings can have small rooms with not much space, so we need to design functional furniture for that environment, as well as consoles for larger new build rooms, perhaps on a raised floor.
“But with Cabinet Vision we simply select the part we’re going to work with, and make the necessary changes to produce a completely bespoke panel. We drag an appropriate part from the library, then use a box on screen which tells us how to make it wider and higher.”
With the 3D design and rendering functionality, Steve says Intech’s work stops being lines on a screen and becomes a full 3D model. “It’s not possible from a 2D design to see whether something is going to work, but we can now see from the model if it is accurate, and if it’s not we can easily correct it. It’s almost design software for dummies.”
He says because Cabinet Vision Solid Ultimate and Screen-To-Machine have so many important features to fully automate and integrate design and manufacturing, saving time, eliminating mistakes and increasing productivity, it is important to invest time learning how to use it properly. “There was a steep learning curve after we’d installed it, but the software becomes increasingly more valuable with each passing month as we understand more about its full capability.”