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Customer Story: Utopia Bathrooms

Wednesday September 18, 2019 at 2:41pm

Utopia have been at the forefront of the UK bathroom industry for 30 years. Not only they plan and design each and every bathroom, no matter what size or shape, they also have in-depth knowledge of how a bathroom will be used. Their furniture is designed, manufactured and hand-assembled in the Midlands from the best quality materials, resulting in beautiful products with the perfect functional performance to match.

We interviewed Dean Allen, Utopia’s Engineering Manager, to find out more about their stylish designs and product development process. Dean commented, “We use SOLIDWORKS predominantly to create 3D models and 2D detailed drawings of woodbased panels, including all details for connections and associated ancillary parts. We take advantage of some of the main modelling features, such as the ‘hole wizard’ in the 3D environment and the ‘hole tables’ and ‘BOM tables’ in the 2D environment.

But the main benefit that SOLIDWORKS has over any other we have evaluated, is the furniture specific bolt on software – SWOOD. The features and functions within this software are key to our product development process, making our CAD data more useable throughout the business by creating the following:

  • Design reports, that include spread sheets to be imported into our MRP system as BOMs, eliminating human intervention, reducing data errors
  • Machine programs that can be created for various machines within our production facilities, making it easier to create and control program maintenance
  • A suite of SWOOD Frame templates, allowing us to load, modify and publish data of new sizes of units within hours rather than days. Resulting in quicker response time to our customer needs
  • A suite of SWOOD boxes and connectors, based on our ancillary parts that are easily pulled into assemblies with associated fixing and connection details. This has lead to us using common CAD data and connection details throughout our different ranges of furniture making it easier to maintain
  • The Design Report function is also used to generate panel specific data that is uploaded and used in our MRp system, such as program codes and images for our production documents”

Prior to adopting SOLIDWORKS and SWOOD, Utopia’s biggest challenge was consistency of design details and manually creating BOM data. Dean continues, “I have used AutoCAD and Inventor for over 20 years in previous jobs, but found the transition to SOLIDWORKS seamless and soon became a main user within the business, showing more experienced users other ways to approach the creation of 3D models and 2D drawings.

I was involved in the selection of the bolt on software and looked at alternative software such as iMOS, but as we had a lot of historic data associated to SOLIDWORKS, it seemed the most sensible decision to keep using the base software and add to it by means of the SWOOD add on. It was also very cost competitive!”

Previously, Utopia used multiple CNC machines, all driven by different software. This meant they needed someone programing it on the separate software (essentially redrawing it) every time some new change was made to the design.

Dean continues, “Now we can drive all our machines from a single software solution all internally in SOLIDWORKS. Our operations run a lot more consistently as we use the same 3D models from purchase to assemblies. All our design standards operate within the same data and libraries, keeping the same parameters for parts such as connectors and panels. We now use that same information more consistently. Whenever something goes to the shop floor, the personnel knows exactly how to load the panels into the machines, leaving no room for errors.”

To find out more about Utopia Bathrooms, please visit:    

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