Automation in steel construction. This is how Railtechniek van Herwijnen gets to production faster

Automation in steel construction. This is how Railtechniek van Herwijnen gets to production faster

Sometimes just one stroke of automation results in huge savings. This is exactly the case at Railtechniek van Herwijnen. The Dutch company is active in steel construction, among others, and has had a customised function developed that saves five to 10 minutes of time each time. "Per project, we save three days of time. In addition, we reduce the risk of error."

‘3D CAD is at the centre'’

Railtechniek van Herwijnen carries out projects all over the world, focusing on drawing and building conveyor systems, both suspended conveyors and floor conveyors. These are needed for moving truck parts or postal packages, for example. The company Scania is one of their clients. Railtechniek van Herwijnen describes itself as a market leader, which raises expectations. "It certainly means we are doing something right, and if you then look at how we design, 3D CAD is central to that.  Drawing in 3D gives clarity. In doing so, this works well in HiCAD. If you immerse yourself in it for a day and a half, you know how it works. That's nice," says Patrick Stolk, project coordinator at the company. "We share the 3D files with our customers, of course."

Automating linking between bars"

The company headquartered in Tiel uses HiCAD as its 3D CAD software. Stolk: "Although that system is already flexible and 'flat', which makes it easy to work with, we saw opportunities to achieve even greater efficiency with the help of an automation step." Working closely with HiCAD supplier ISD Group, a piece of automation was developed that allows the company's draftsmen to model faster. "When setting up steel structures, we can now automatically draw a coupling between beams. By clicking on both ends of the beams, the system knows that a steel construction connection is needed. That one function saves up to three days on the total of a project."

Customisation in HiCAD reduces chance of human error

Although Railtechniek van Herwijnen already saves a lot of time with the creation of the automatic links, they found another way to work more efficiently. "That is more focused on reducing errors. We are currently carrying out an automation project that allows workshop drawings to be used directly. It's about providing assemblies with dimensions that mean something to the production department. A large number of beam assemblies have to be provided with an end plate, which you weld onto a column. Production has to know what the starting point for welding is. Earlier, we indicated that with manual sizing. Now, the correct usable dimensions are added automatically. This removes the risk of human error from the process. It is actually always the same operation, so it is easy to automate. This saves us one and a half days per project."

'As a steelworker, you have to make a choice'

Automation clearly cuts both ways for Railtechniek van Herwijnen. "As a company in steel construction, you always have to make a choice. In our case, we could also have employed five extra people in Moldova - we have a branch there. Our choice fell on HiCAD, which reduced lead times considerably. If a customer asks for a drawing, it now takes four hours, whereas it used to take several days. The fact that we can also reduce the risk of errors was the decisive factor. This automation makes us faster, more flexible and more reliable."

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