Dow Chemical Reduces Design Time by 90 Percent

Standardizes software for designing pre-cast concrete wall panels

Standardizes software for designing pre-cast concrete wall panels

Baltimore — January 26, 2004 — In a bid to enable its licensees to design pre-cast concrete wall panels as an alternative to less energy efficient building systems presently used in houses, Dow Chemical Co. has standardized and licensed its STYROFOAM* T-MASS* Technology on an Autodesk software platform with Avatech's professional services.

Avatech said that during the standardization process its application specialists provided analysis, design specifications and implementation plans to Dow. In addition to training all in-house Dow personnel, Avatech offered system set-up and training services to Dow licensees across the country as part of the technology solution.

In the past 10 years, the growth of concrete in residential home construction has increased to be approximately 10 percent of the entire building market. In order to capitalize on the fact that concrete is a stable product, there is lots of engineering around it and people understand how it behaves, Dow's building materials division set out to design a pre-cast concrete wall using rigid foam insulation between two concrete layers instead of the standard wood stud cavity walls, providing durability, insulation and energy efficiency.

An issue Dow said it wanted to address during the development of this system was that it took longer to develop the manufacturing documentation (shop ticket drawings) than it took to actually manufacture the walls. On average, it took 40 hours to create a typical shop package translated from a builder's drawing, and that time had to be dramatically cut in order for Dow to successfully sell the system in the residential marketplace.

Dow said it wanted to use just one partner to accomplish all the needs associated with this project, including an analysis of requirements; a detailed design specification; an implementation plan and proposal; and services consisting of project management, consulting, application development and education.

Dow finally settled on Avatech Solutions and followed a phased approach to implementation. First, Avatech recommended Dow use AutoCAD and Autodesk Architectural Desktop as the software foundation for the STYROFOAM* T-MASS* technology. In the next phase, Avatech helped scoped the parameters of what the program should and should not do, created descriptions and then automated them.

By phase 3, more rules-based automation was placed into the software until a 90 percent reduction in design time was achieved, reducing the time it took to create a shop package from the original 40 hours to just four. The goal of enabling a designer to take a blueprint from a builder and convert it to concrete panels in half a day was realized.

As part of the package from Dow, licensees can receive additional training from Avatech to help them get up to speed with the new technology, plus Avatech can assist them on how to integrate other systems with their new computer-aided design CAD program and tie it into their manufacturing or enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes.

"The Avatech approach helped us reduce the design time of our T-MASS* technology by 90 percent and enabled us to get to market much faster than if we had tried to do it on our own," said Greg Bergtold, senior development specialist at Dow Chemical Co. "Avatech's ability to help us automate our design, as well as provide after-market training and servicing to our licensees was exactly what we were looking for in a technology partner."