Fig 1. FuelMate trailer. Valley Industries produces a wide range of custom trucks and trailers for maintaining and refueling agricultural and heavy equipment in the field. Image courtesy of Valley Industries. Foto: Siemens.

Mar 13, 2018

Att göra Origami av Metall

Designprocessen kallas ”specialtillverkad massproduktion”, där kunderna kan välja från ett brett utbud av alternativ för att skapa en specifik produktkonfiguration

Doing Origami with Metal

Av Jason Brett. Det här är ett utdrag från originalartikeln som publicerades på

Located in the heart of the Great Plains since 1978, Valley Industries has a proud history of providing field maintenance solutions to meet the needs of industry. Their specialties include custom-designed trucks, trailers (Figure 1) and lube skids (Figure 2) to bring refueling and maintenance to farm equipment and heavy machinery. Their products enable owners to maximize productivity and minimize downtime. What truly makes Valley Industries stand out, however, is their ability to produce individual solutions to unique customer needs, while maintaining the productivity and quality standards of a mass production environment.

Mass Customization

The design process is called “mass customization,” in which customers can choose from a wide variety of options to create a specific product configuration. The “build-a-skid” form on the Valley Industries website guides customers through a seven-step process and hundreds of different options to design a lube skid maintenance platform that can include fuel tanks, coolant tanks, waste tanks, pumps, compressors, generators and welders—all exactly specified to a customer’s needs. If a customer needs more mobility, they can offer similar options on a trailer or match them to a truck chassis. There are countless possible variations. Once the Valley Industries team has helped the customer identify the optimal design for their specific requirements, the specifications are passed on to engineer Scott Leacox to prepare the designs for production.

Origami Engineering

“I call it origami engineering,” said Leacox, explaining how they create tanks, toolboxes and a multitude of other parts by folding sheet metal. “Most people doing sheet metal are doing high volumes . . . we’re setting up the machines for every part, on each order.” It is in this environment that Leacox has developed some unique methods to optimize his productivity with Solid Edge. The results have not only significantly reduced fit up and welding times in the shop, but have also greatly reduced the amount of time he spends manually adjusting drawings. “The first time I set up a model from scratch, it took three days,” he commented, referring to the development of a typical set of drawings. “Today, it takes about four hours for the same level of complexity.” The entire editing process to resize and configure a model can run from 30 minutes to a day, depending on complexity.

Fig 2. A LubeMate Skid produced by Valley Industries. Skids are produced in a wide variety of configurations, with different tanks, hose and pump requirements. Image courtesy of Valley Industries.

Likeable and Parametric

When Leacox joined Valley Industries, he was already an experienced CAD user. Since graduating from Bradley University as a mechanical engineer in 1990, he has been working with CAD on a full-time basis, on projects as diverse as the NASA launch tower, boilers, barges, conveyors and the development of laser-scanning data processing. Valley Industries was already using the free Solid Edge 2D Drafting software, so Leacox thought it would make sense to see how Solid Edge might help bring a parametric approach to their 3D design needs. The experience was a positive one. “Solid Edge has been my first likable parametric software,” he said. “I tried to do this stuff in other packages and maybe you can do it . . . but not the way I’m doing it in Solid Edge.”

Joining a Community

Not only has Solid Edge given Leacox the flexibility to create a custom solution to meet his company’s needs, he has also found other positive aspects to working with it as well. He is an active member of the Siemens PLM Community, where he posts as “12Gage,” a reference to the sheet metal that he spends so much time working with. “Siemens is the only company (in the parametric CAD space) that is listening to its users,” he said. “They have a really good feedback system.” This is important to him, as there are still features he would like to see added to Solid Edge.

Scott Leacox clearly has pride in his work and in the products his company produces. “There are many companies similar to us . . . we’re not doing anything unique—we’re just doing it right.” Part of the process of doing it right is using Solid Edge to automate the “origami engineering” of sheet metal folding, resulting in reduced drawing time and faster fit up due to the more accurate dimensions for flat patterns and folding tables. Leacox might claim that their company isn’t unique, but some of their solutions certainly are!


  • Svetsproduktivitet i toppklass med X5 FastMig

    Svetsarens yrkesskicklighet är självklart grundläggande för snabb och effektiv svetsning, men den kan inte utnyttjas fullt ut om den inte matchas med rätt utrustning. Hur kan en svetsmaskin öka bågtidsfaktorn och skapa en produktivitet i toppklass?