Howden Thomassen Compressors

Howden Thomassen Compressors

To design the components of a complex new compressor series, Howden Thomassen Compressors went looking for 3D design software, so their designers could draw components faster and automate complex calculations. Using Autodesk Inventor, the designers can now design the basic components of their compressors and digitally create elements such as frames, crankshafts, connecting rods, cross heads, cylinders, and pistons in 3D in advance, so they can later be easily integrated into an overall design.

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The plans for our biggest compressor series gathered dust in the closet for years. In no time with Autodesk Inventor, however, we were able to make a 3D model and start production.

Luc Schenkeveld

ICT application manager - Howden Thomassen Compressors

Predictability and automated calculations

Previously, to test the durability of the machines, the designers and engineers had to perform numerous calculations based on their 2D plans. With Autodesk digital prototyping, this process is fully automated thanks to simulation and strength calculations in the 3D model.

This not only saves a great deal of time, but also the designers produce more accurate work. They regularly used a large degree of tolerance with manual calculations: the so-called 'waste factor'. This helped ensure the durability, but too many raw materials (often steel) were being used in the design. These complex calculations require efficient collaboration between designers and engineers. Previously, there were sometimes misunderstandings and potential interpretation errors that only became clear later in the design process. With the 3D models, designers and engineers can communicate better with each other.

Competitive market

Howden Thomassen Compressors tries to distinguish itself in a competitive market through its innovation. 'Solutions like Autodesk Inventor can certainly help us quickly deliver highly complex and innovative designs,' says Luc Schenkeveld. A good example of this is the free-flying piston: a horizontal piston with air cushions to prevent friction. 'This operates continuously for 15,000 hours, which means some straps will need replacing after a few months. Our customers take an interest in this because they prefer to make as few stops as possible,' says Schenkeveld. With the extra knowledge and information Howden Thomassen now has about its 3D components, they can better estimate their maintenance times.

This helps companies avoid a lot of unexpected costs; a fact which they no doubt find very appealing. With Autodesk Inventor, Howden Thomassen can enter new markets, such as the one for centrifugal compressors. Howden Thomassen can optimize the compressors with Inventor by improving the compressor's fan. 'For the customers, we measure the fan blades and the efficiency. Based on these measurements,' says Schenkeveld, 'we can calculate the optimum fan blade shape using specialized calculation software and make a 3D model by linking Inventor, which results in the fan blades being drawn automatically. Using the digital prototype, we can conduct optimization exercises to quickly provide our customer with an improved proposal.'


3D drawing as a selling point

Thanks to the 3D models, Howden Thomassen Compressors now has more information that is available more quickly about the standard components. The 3D designs are also an important marketing tool.

'We sell innovative products that often do not exist yet, but that the customer already wants to see. Aided by Inventor, we can demonstrate what the compressors and the different components will look like early in the sales process.

The advantages of Inventor for Howden

Complex calculations become automated. Designers and engineers work better together Economical use of raw materials. Rapid optimization of existing designs is possible Howden Thomassen can innovate and enter new markets Sales calls proceed more smoothly.

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