Companies switch 3D CAD software for many different reasons, from CAD renewal costs and recruitment, to lack of capability in their current CAD systems and/ or lack of support services.
In our 28+ years in the Engineering and Design industry, we have seen it all and from our experience, the switching process is not the headache people usually expect. You can take your time translating your CAD data and SOLIDWORKS Interconnect allows you to do that translation from different software systems directly into SOLIDWORKS – it is also worth noticing this is not something you have to do all at once.
We interviewed our customer, COCO Lighting, to get an insider view on how easy it is to switch 3D CAD systems.
COCO Lighting was founded in 2000, when Kevin Cooper (Managing Director) and his colleague were working together for a well-known lighting company in Essex. Kevin recalls, ‘We were young and risk-free and with it being the early stages of this “new” LED lighting technology era, we felt it was a good time to start a company together. The company name “COCO Lighting” came from the first two letters of both our surnames and at the time, seemed catchy, so we ran with it. Our new venture was exciting yet challenging, working long hours, sometimes 7 days a week and because this was a new start-up business, I remember taking an additional 3 evening weekend jobs to support my young family.’
Today, COCO Lighting prides itself in offering a full turnkey lighting solution with an extensive range of in-house capabilities including emergency lighting, product design, luminaire conversions, luminaire leads and full manufacturing and distribution capabilities. All of their products include fully warrantied high-quality LED luminaires, controls and ancillary items, with their main expertise being in emergency lighting conversions and assembly work for OEM customers. They are now a team of 23 staff, operating from their bespoke factory in Braintree, Essex.
Usually there are two key considerations before companies decide to migrate from their existing CAD software to SOLIDWORKS: data migration and CAD translation.
Adrian Gayler, Development Manager at COCO Lighting, comments ‘Originally we were using a competitive product which was not quite meeting our business requirements. The 3D visualisations were below expectation and we were experiencing networking issues. When the existing contract was due for renewal, we took the opportunity to review the business direction, discuss training, support requirements, and look at the long -term capital cost.
We were frustrated with the lack of technical support from our existing software provider, and the cloud-based storage solution we use as a business was causing issues with the synchronisation of files. Regular crashes were being reported also by the design team, which led us to work extra hours to complete customers’ projects.
Some members of our design team had had a positive experience with SOLIDWORKS and we approached Solid Solutions to discuss not only the product capability, but also the on-going technical support requirements. Solid Solutions came to COCO Lighting and demonstrated an overview of the software to our team, its capability to provide solutions for all of our current and future design needs and promote their first class support network. From the initial installation, where we were given easy to understand instructions, to linking files to our cloud-based system, everything has continued to run smoothly without any issues’
Every software implementation is different but from the many different customers we have assisted, we have observed many common themes and 'best practices'. Whether it is staged, project-by-project approach or a one-time overhaul of the existing CAD data, mapping out the implementation plan is a key part of what we do.
COCO Lighting had issues sharing assemblies between users due to the way their files were stored with the previous CAD system. In one instance, this resulted in them losing their complete file history, so their entire assembly had to be re-drawn from scratch.
Vicky Chambers, Product Designer at COCO Lighting comments, ‘The support we received from the CAD software provider wasn't able to fix the issue, even the software creators couldn't fix it. With SOLIDWORKS, we are able to seamlessly share files and data without the errors we received on our existing software and when we have had an issue, Solid Solutions technical support has guided us to a solution every time.
We were working towards a tight deadline and were reticent to change over to a new software, but we knew that it was the only time we could feasibly do the change-over. SOLIDWORKS has helped our design team produce first-class Visualisations and Renders, which were historically unachievable. We use these visuals in our marketing campaigns and to promote our product range. Changing software to SOLIDWORKS has made a significant improvement to the quality of our renders and also improved the speed with which we design.’
Once their design team completed their training and online tutorials, they were up and running using SOLIDWORKS in customer projects within a few days. Adrian comments, ‘We naturally had a few technical issues along the way but a quick call to the Solid Solutions technical support team quickly rectified any issues we had.’
Adrian continues, ‘We couldn't just open our designs in SOLIDWORKS and leave it at that because at some point the models would need re-engineering so we knew that we would have to re-draw each component and we needed to allow adequate time for that. One of our designers used that time to get a complete assembly re-drawn as a SOLIDWORKS assembly and found out how easy it was to work with it.’
There are many things to consider when choosing a CAD vendor. Vicky comments on what has been of particular importance to them when choosing who to buy SOLIDWORKS from, ‘Solid Solutions Support is excellent. The initial presentation highlighted our historical limitations and the expert aftersales support has been instant. The software is intuitive but where support is required, expert advice is readily on hand providing clear guidance and advice. We have used the telephone support with the team at Solid Solutions having remote access to our computers and also have had a personalised webinar to help us with some rendering questions we had. Both of these have been immensely helpful.
We struggled with creating realistic renders that were good enough quality to use in our marketing campaigns with our existing software. Since using SOLIDWORKS to create our renders, we have noticed a big visual improvement in them. This has enabled us to use photo realistic images for our online and offline marketing campaigns and give our customers visualisations of their products prior to production.’
Tony Stones, Technical Director at COCO Lighting answers, ‘Considering the difficulties we were experiencing with our previous design software, SOLIDWORKS has made a significant improvement to all aspects of our design processes. We no longer have any data sharing issues between members of the design team and the enhanced 3D rendering is proving invaluable. The support from Solid Solutions has been excellent. The initial software demonstration by Solid Solutions highlighted the products versatility and ease of use. The transition to, and implementation of SOLIDWORKS has been seamless.’
To find out more about COCO Lighting, visit https://www.cocolighting.com