Jan 12, 2011

SolidWorks Helps Amtrak Keep Rolling

America’s Intercity Rail Operator Uses Full Suite of Software for Creating Superior Passenger Experience.

CONCORD, Mass – If you’ve ever experienced the comfort of the Acela®, you’ve savored the fruits of a high-powered design team using SolidWorks® software for modeling, simulation, and data management.

Amtrak, the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and only high-speed train operator, uses SolidWorks software to help refurbish all of its rail cars from the wheels up, updating compartments that in some cases can be 50 or 60 years old. But you’d never know it. As riders take in the nation’s landscape, they enjoy a setting as sleek as an upscale restaurant: comfortable seats, ample legroom, low-energy LED lighting systems, contemporary detail, integrated recycling bins, and overhead luggage pods.

“We’re as high tech as the airlines, and often faster point to point, but there’s room to breathe and no one gets stuck with a middle seat,” says Bruce Hoffman, manager of document control for Amtrak’s rolling stock engineering group. “In creating this experience, SolidWorks has helped us improve our productivity by 60 percent over our previous 2D practice, when you combine the benefits of design, simulation, and data management.”

SolidWorks provides ease of use, compatibility with legacy 2D data, integrated simulation, and product data management applications. The government-owned corporation uses SolidWorks on all of its fleet, including the Acela, Superliner, and Amfleet trains, and it’s the Amtrak standard for all new rolling stock designs. Its 3D visualization capabilities illustrate new concepts for executives.

A major productivity enhancer offered by SolidWorks is the ability to have any change to a model or drawing automatically update all associated drawings, parts, and assemblies. The design work is too complex for drawings alone: constantly creating and updating myriad 2D views of each entity would be overwhelming.

In addition to designing lush interiors, Amtrak rolling stock engineers use SolidWorks software to reverse-engineer and remanufacture components according to specifications inherited from numerous rail car manufacturers.

Amtrak conducts stress and structural analysis on wheels, axles, suspension, and parts throughout the rail cars using SolidWorks Simulation software. This helps designers and engineers ensure safety, durability, longevity, and minimal scrap, material usage, weight, and consulting costs.

Amtrak rolling stock engineering division provides secure access to nearly a million documents via SolidWorks Enterprise PDM software to improve quality, accuracy, and efficiency. The secure vault includes drawings, 3D models, technical specifications, and standard procedures in a variety of file formats, including Microsoft® Word. The software tracks versions, coordinates changes, provides powerful search, and simplifies reuse of approved designs. Approved designs are automatically shared with Amtrak’s Documentum enterprise document management system.

Amtrak relies on authorized SolidWorks reseller Prism Engineering Inc. for ongoing software training, implementation, and support.