The Holland Group, World’s Largest Manufacturer Of Fifth Wheel Truck Couplers, Standardizes On SolidWorks Software

Company Uses 3D Solid Modeling Software to Cut Design Cycles from Years to Months

CONCORD, Mass. — January 20, 2003 — The Holland Group, the world’s largest vehicle connection system manufacturer, has made SolidWorks® software its standard for three-dimensional computer-aided design (3D CAD), SolidWorks announced today. SolidWorks helps The Holland Group deliver new products to customers much faster than with its previous CAD software by cutting design cycles from years to months.

Based in Michigan, the Holland Group comprises three divisions that manufacture a variety of components used in the heavy-duty trucking and transportation industries, including fifth wheels (the horseshoe-shaped couplings that connect tractors to commercial trailers), suspension products for tractors and trailers, and other couplings that ensure the stability and safety of loads during transportation. The Holland Group purchased 28 licenses of SolidWorks to quickly turn out new product designs and match them to their customers' unique tractor and trailer designs. The company chose SolidWorks because it enables engineers to create these designs more rapidly than with the CAD package it had been using. Engineers can quickly develop a solid model of a new product idea in SolidWorks software and then run “what-if” scenarios to see if the idea is feasible.

“We used to conduct a lot of ‘old school’ lab and field tests which delayed production and cost money,” said Lyle Hagan, engineering standard manager at The Holland Group. “With SolidWorks, we can try out new design concepts quickly and determine whether we should pursue them. SolidWorks gives us an advantage over competitors because we can now analyze a product design in a few months, rather than the nearly two years our previous CAD software and validation process required.”

Standardizing Global Design

With operations as far away as Australia and Japan, The Holland Group also uses SolidWorks software to unite all of its global design teams on one platform. Before SolidWorks, different manufacturing teams around the world used different CAD systems, which slowed design development, review, analysis, and approval.

“We needed to get everyone talking the same language,” said Jack Gisinger, The Holland Group's vice president of engineering. “SolidWorks was easy to learn, so everyone got up to speed very quickly. And the impact has been immediate. We've designed more solid models in the last six months with SolidWorks than we did in the last four years with our old CAD system.”

Interoperability with Other CAD Software

The Holland Group must work closely with customers because it often customizes its products to fit into customers' unique designs. SolidWorks provides smooth translation capabilities from 2D to 3D design, which helps The Holland Group integrate its coupling designs into a customer's tractor or trailer design, for example, to ensure an exact fit. This is particularly important in an industry where the tractor manufacturers design mostly in 3D, and the trailer manufacturers primarily work in 2D, according to Hagan. With SolidWorks, The Holland Group engineers can convert a 2D drawing from a trailer customer into a 3D solid model and refine that design faster than if they had to reconstruct the drawing from scratch using another CAD package.

The Holland Group also uses SolidWorks Toolbox to automate assembly design modifications. For example, if an engineer decides to use a different size bolt throughout a coupling assembly, SolidWorks Toolbox automatically plugs the new bolt's specifications into a data field and makes the change throughout the design.

The Holland Group brings its product designs to life with SolidWorks PhotoWorks™ to generate photorealistic renderings of its coupling, fifth wheel, and suspension system products. The company's marketing and customer service teams use these renderings to help customers and prospects easily visualize products and understand how they fit into their overall designs.

“The products that The Holland Group designs must be exceptionally rugged. The stresses they must constantly endure mandate precise engineering. Any mistakes can become graphically apparent,” said Mike Crismond, vice president of North American sales at SolidWorks Corporation. “SolidWorks software gives the company's engineers the tools they need to design their products quickly and accurately so they can meet global customer demands for fast turnaround and reliability. Helping companies like The Holland Group stay ahead of its competitors is why SolidWorks has become the standard for 3D CAD.”

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