SOLIDWORKS customization increased efficiency at Vortex

Vortex, Aquatic Play Solutions, Canada

Vortex, a company founded in 1995 in Canada, has revolutionized the way children and families play in urban spaces, waterparks, and resorts worldwide. Serving municipalities and private organizations, it has created over 8 000 custom installations in 50 countries and 5 continents.

All the waterparks, campgrounds, and aquatic centers are unique customer projects. The mid-sized design project takes about one month and is built with 2 000 items.

Vortex utilizes SOLIDWORKS as their CAD software. 

"The CUSTOMTOOLS team is reactive, open-minded, and enjoyable to work with. I also value the experience of the team."
customers Réjean GilbertCad Admin / Tech Design & Mech Eng

The challenge

Vortex designs and builds water installations across 5 continents, which means that the specifications and requirements vary a lot from one place to another. Since the product is all about amusement, experience, and playfulness, they are also creative with product design and colors, and this also helps to differentiate Vortex solutions from its competitors.

Before, a design project started by assigning material to it, and the design phase took about 4-6 weeks. If the customer wanted to change the requirements, e.g., change galvanized steel to 316, the whole project needed to start from scratch. 

Also, using color variants on files was making them heavy. An average project took about 20 minutes to open with a supercomputer they had. 

Overall, the design process was time-consuming and rigid. 

The solution

When Covid came, there was a good opportunity to improve the processes and the systems.

Vortex changed its ERP system into a cloud version of Microsoft Business Central. Vortex also compared teams offering services around SOLIDWORKS solutions and chose CUSTOMTOOLS’ ERP Connector to integrate SOLIDWORKS to Business Central and CUSTOMTOOLS team for the SOLIDWORKS customization work. 

Vortex appreciated CUSTOMTOOLS team’s SOLIDWORKS service partner certification. They were also impressed by the presentation of how the team could help with the customization. 

In CUSTOMTOOLS ERP Connector Vortex especially values the file links to SharePoint that are automatically generated to Business Central and can be then easily shared with third parties. 

In collaboration with CUSTOMTOOLS team, Vortex built a system where the design process starts with a generic installation to which they could apply and change the materials easily also in the later stages of the design process.  

When the files are exported to ERP the systems create different variations of the product, which can be easily used in different projects.

The customization work started small but increased when the possibilities and benefits started to uncover. Overall, the CUSTOMTOOLS team built 12 customized features to support the design process in SOLIDWORKS:

  • Create additional items and BOMs in BC with different suffixes
  • BOM for cut list items
  • Convert length from inches to feet for weldment cut list items
  • Create Item Variants for colors
  • File conversions during Export
  • Add additional file links to BC
  • Create BOM Versions based on revision
  • Create Items using selected Item Template
  • Create Item Attributes in BC
  • Add translation in BC for the French description
  • Create new routing with routing number matching item number
  • Add Comments to the item card for PART REPLACEMENT

Vortex also started utilizing the standard features of CUSTOMTOOLS, like property management and batch processing, to increase productivity in their design process.

The outcome

Due to the tools now in hand, Vortex has been able to cut in half the time used in day-to-day projects. Previously, the uploading and designing work took one hour, now, they are down to half an hour to do the same work. 

In addition, uploading a project before sending it to production took previously roughly 3 days. Now uploading a project and verifying everything for production can be done in half a day. 

The whole design process has sped up from 8 weeks to 4 to 5 weeks. 

CUSTOMTOOLS is also helping to catch pre-production errors when exporting items to ERP, which prevents costly errors in production. 

Vortex is now able to react to customer needs quicker, deliver customer projects faster and use the time saved for new product development. 

If you are interested in learning more about CUSTOMTOOLS or SOLIDWORKS development, you can contact us or download a free demo of CUSTOMTOOLS today!