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Russell Mineral Equipment grinds ahead with Intercad

Mining equipment manufacturer, Russell Mineral Equipment, is saving up to 100 hours of staff time a week in the design of its customised mining equipment as a result of its computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) implementation from Australian specialist, Intercad.

Intercad is the Australian and New Zealand authorised reseller of SolidWorks 3D CAD/CAM technology, supported by a portfolio of technical and business services.

Based in Toowoomba in Queensland, Russell Mineral Equipment designs, manufactures and services customised mining equipment at mine sites in every major hard rock mining region of the world. The company’s core focus is on grinding mill maintenance, for which it produces machines and services that enable relining of grinding mills with maximum safety and efficiency.

Russell Mineral Equipment is one of Intercad’s longest-standing customers, having first purchased the company’s flagship product, SolidWorks, in 1996. Russell Mineral Equipment had always been an early adopter of technology and quickly saw the potential impact 3D solid modelling could have on its design and manufacturing cycle. The company now has 29 SolidWorks seats and a number of other licences for a range of complimentary programs, like finite element analysis and product data management, to obtain even more value out of its CAD/CAM implementation.

“Part of our philosophy is to always work with the latest technology,” says Dr Rick Coker, Engineering Manager, Russell Mineral Equipment. “We rely on Intercad for high-level support. Its sales engineers and support personnel know our business well enough to know what will work for us.”

Russell Mineral Equipment was one of the first Intercad customers to experiment with product data management software, first purchasing SolidWorks Workgroup PDM, which provides version control and secure design data re-use for smaller design teams, in 2003. The company has since exhausted that package and is migrating to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Dr Coker says this migration is one of the biggest technology upgrades the company has undertaken and he is relying on Intercad to make sure everything runs smoothly.

“We have the world’s largest SolidWorks PDM Workgroup database by about a factor of five,” he says. “Migrating to SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is not just a slight modification, it’s a whole new system, and for the past nine months we have been focused on how to complete that migration without interrupting our usual workflows.

“Intercad’s assistance has been invaluable in facilitating changes that are specific to our needs to the SolidWorks Enterprise PDM program,” continues Dr Coker. “Its knowledge of our business and ability to adapt products to our needs are two of the core values Intercad brings to us.”

Russell Mineral Equipment has an advanced SolidWorks user base in-house so the company rarely undertakes general training courses, preferring to invest in Intercad’s customised training.

“Intercad arranged for one of its engineers to visit our office and provide individual training to our staff, making us more productive more quickly,” says Dr Coker. “We could either have read the book and spent 12 months trying to figure out the new program ourselves or we could go straight to the experts and sort it out in a couple of days.”

As one of the early adopters of product data management, Russell Mineral Equipment has made its expertise and experiences available to other Intercad customers that are interested in the software.

“Russell Mineral Equipment has really led the charge in terms of use of this package,” says Max Piper, CEO, Intercad. “For our other customers who want some real-world examples of the software in action Russell Mineral Equipment has been able to provide measurable results, tips on implementation and general advice.

“The mining industry is all about doing things quickly and safely,” continues Piper. “Russell Mineral Equipment clearly provides those benefits to its customers and it is our job to ensure the software and services we provide helps enable those benefits.”

Dr Coker concurs: “With SolidWorks, its associated products, and Intercad’s services we are able to provide our customers with their products more quickly, and have confidence that our designs are right the first time. Software like SolidWorks and relevant support from Intercad enables RME to maximise the potential of its engineering personnel resources and provide rewarding career opportunities for our staff.”

RME’s philosophy on this can be summed up in a statement from Russell Mineral Equipment’s Managing Director, Dr John Russell: “Fewer, better people, armed with the right tools.”

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