Autodesk Inventor and Symetri help start-up meet tight deadline

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Liberty Drilling Equipment purchased Autodesk Inventor and, with support from Symetri, got its first products for the oil and gas industry designed and manufactured within just a few months.

When Aberdeen-based Liberty Drilling Equipment (LDE) was founded in October 2010 it had to meet a tight deadline: it had to get its first products for the oil and gas industry designed and built by the following January, or risk losing a valuable client even before the business had begun.

The team knew that they needed to use the latest design software if they were to achieve this goal, but there was one problem: they were all skilled in 2D design and none had used 3D digital prototyping software.

In September 2010 LDE attended a presentation given by manufacturing design software specialist Symetri at Offshore Europe in Aberdeen. It had been impressed by Symetri's expertise in 3D design and its knowledge of the industry.

LDE's Lindsey Macaulay comments: "We liked the fact that they had offices in Aberdeen as, at the time, we thought we would need constant support so this would make it easier to call on them." Macaulay and the team bought three seats of Autodesk Inventor, plus several sessions at Symetri's training facility in Aberdeen.

User-friendly and fast

Macaulay says: "This was our first move into 3D design but we found the software user-friendly. We would not have been able to meet our January deadline using 2D design software.

"The training was thorough and we came away feeling confident we could start using the software straight away."

Symetri's training methods were effective. After these sessions, the team became productive quickly and were soon able to develop, "a huge number of brand new and innovative products in a short space of time, including a surface wellhead system, a variety of mudline suspension systems and a range of large-diameter pipe correctors." Consequently, they were able to design and build their first systems to achieve their goal.

Macaulay says that Autodesk Inventor enables designs to be created faster because it enables designers to check the interfaces of all individual parts to avoid clashes and interferences. In addition, a change made anywhere in the model is automatically updated everywhere else in the design. "This means designers can try out ideas to optimise the design without wasting time. The process is faster – and because designers have time to reach the best possible solution, confident that all parts of the model and associated documents have been coordinated, the design is more reliable and accurate, saving further time down the line."

Design data

Although Liberty Drilling's design team is based in Aberdeen, the equipment is produced in Holland. However, Macaulay believes that collaboration is made smoother by Inventor's ability to produce quality drawings from the 3D models, so that the 3D geometry can be fed directly into the machine shop.

The visual element of a 3D model also brings advantages, as Macaulay explains: "As time goes by, fewer people will be able to read a 2D drawing. With a 3D model, even customers who are not trained in engineering can understand what we are doing. This boosts their confidence, in turn leading to faster decision-making."

The Liberty Drilling Equipment team is now planning to install Autodesk Vault data management system to store its files, control who can revise a drawing or model, and prevent changes being made inadvertently.

It is also keen to explore the benefits of Autodesk Publisher to enable the fast and cost-effective development of manuals for the installation of its equipment from Inventor models. This eliminates the need for costly design and printing and would mean that Liberty Drilling could update the manuals quickly whenever necessary.

As for choosing a local consulting firm, Macaulay concludes: "We made the right decision, as Symetri's initial advice and training was excellent and set us on the right footing.

"We actually began to rent an office next door to Symetri, as we thought we would need their constant support but, in fact, although we knew they were there if we needed them, we only had to contact them once or twice.

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