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Temtrol Saves Time and Money with SYNTHESIS HVAC Configurator

Temtrol, an Oklahoma manufacturer of commercial and industrial air handling units and heat transfer coils, produces equipment tailored for specific applications. Seldom are two units alike, a fact that could be a design engineer's nightmare. To prevent that, Temtrol has a parametric computer-aided design (CAD) system that controls the many design variations dealt with by engineering.

Recently, companies involved in the air handling industry have begun to prepare individual equipment drawings to scale to make them more than simply representations of the unit being produced. The generic drawing, with dimension blocks, is no longer acceptable to customers. Because of this demand, Temtrol automated its engineering department two years ago, starting with the simultaneous installation of AutoCAD-from Autodesk of Sausalito, CA--and a parametric design system called SYNTHESIS, a product of SYNTHESIS in Bellingham, WA.

Parametric basics

The parametric design system operates in the AutoCAD environment using a set of master drawings together with design sheets that enable it to produce exact scaled drawings for each component. This is done by rescaling a series of master drawings based on information obtained from answers to on-screen prompts.

Since starting the use of AutoCAD the company noticed other companies—some of which were its competitors—using block libraries compiled over a period of years to produce drawings. Although Temtrol did not consider itself expert with AutoCAD, there is considerable advantage to being able to dispense with such libraries and draw a shape just once, in no particular scale, and then use it to produce literally hundreds of variations of the original drawing.

Most of the programming required to run the parametric system is in the form of SpecSheets that assemble information required to generate the new drawings. The amount of programming depends on the extent of support given to the design package and the nature of the product being designed. SYNTHESIS works especially well for designers who are non-programmers because the design files are easy to write.

At present, Temtrol has 85 design files and 78 master drawings. The number of different designs possible from this base is almost unlimited.

Growth enhanced with CAD

From concept through bidding to the final submitted package, Temtrol provides 90 percent of its customers with scaled or proportional drawings consisting of plan and elevation views. As the company has grown, the number of preliminary and submittal drawings has increased dramatically. Currently, three people are producing material on the computer; without synthesis, it would be difficult to meet the increasing demands for unit drawings unless two or three full-time drafters were added.

Currently a Visual Basic front end is being added to SYNTHESIS at Temtrol. This Graphic front end is an event controlled interface. This means that you select graphically from a menu of options for engineering, layout, components (filters, fans, coils, heaters, etc.) The front end launches several processes and creates a symbolic meta file of the assembled HVAC unit on the screen. When done configuring the specifics of the HVAC unit, SYNTHESIS then takes the information in a GOVERNOR file format (ASCII) to generate a set of drawings for sales/submittal purposes.

The next step for Temtrol will be to also generate all of the shop drawings for each unit (sometimes up to 200 drawings). These drawings will be used for NC use for shearing and punching and bending.

About 90 percent of all submittal and preliminary drawings start life on the AutoCAD/SYNTHESIS system with each computer-generated drawing reaching about 80 percent completeness. Title blocks, notes and minor adjustments are all done with AutoCAD alone. As a result, four to five drawings, depending on their complexity, are produced in the time it would take a drafter to do just one by hand.

The CAD system has helped Temtrol reduce the probability of mistakes and increased overall production efficiency. For example, scaled drawings have resulted in a drastic reduction in mistakes on the shop floor. Although no specific records have been kept, it is estimated as much as 60 percent of production errors have been eliminated.

Mr. Jeff Forman, marketing manager and SYNTHESIS expert.

Visit The Temtrol website: www.temtrol.com