OPW is recognized around the world as the industry standard in fueling equipment and solutions worldwide. They deliver product excellence and the most comprehensive line of fueling equipment and services to retail and commercial fueling operations around the globe.
OPW partnered with Catalyst to support the development of enclosures and components for the AVANCE next generation nozzle and fueling system supplied to Europe, Middle East, and Africa. OPW provided Catalyst with initial concepts for the enclosure along with size and mechanical requirements based on the product specifications.
Catalyst was the second design firm to work on the project as OPW originally engaged another design consultancy. However, the concepts provided, while aesthetically pleasing to look at, could not be manufactured in a realistic, cost-effective manner and were not ergonomically functional. Additionally, the concepts would not feasibly work with the internal components and castings of the fuel nozzle assembly. Unfortunately, the concepts had been approved and renderings had been widely distributed in marketing collateral. The project challenge was to maintain as much of the original design intent as possible while engineering the enclosures to fit the existing nozzle components and to allow for cost-effective production, assembly, and serviceability.
During most development projects at Catalyst, the industrial design and mechanical engineering team members work closely together to ensure that critical items such as manufacturability and assembly details are considered early in the ideation and concept refinement phases. On the Avance project, the overall design aesthetic had been largely frozen prior to addressing design for manufacturability. Therefore, Catalyst had to work somewhat backward in the initial stages. To accomplish this, 3D models of all internal nozzle castings and components were created in addition to 3D models of surfaces based on the original non-manufacturable design concepts. With this information and in a virtual environment, Catalyst and OPW could review the areas that would require the most changes and the impacts to styling and proportion. Through this collaboration, a new holistic design direction was established that not only maintained most of the original design intent but ensured the enclosures would be robust and easy to manufacture, assemble, and service.
While maintaining the original design intent, the Catalyst Industrial Design team provided improved concepts that addressed Design for Manufacturability and improved ergonomics. Isometric sketches were provided that showed component breakouts and assembly methods of the components. Multiple renderings were provided that depicted various color and texture combinations as well as branding space for logo placement. The Mechanical Engineering team provided structural analysis, mechanical and manufacturing design. As the parametric 3D CAD database was created, the various components were optimized to ensure manufacturing costs were minimized during subsequent tooling and injection molding phases. The Catalyst team worked closely with OPW in developing prototypes to test the fitment and user interfaces. Based on prototype review and feedback, engineering revisions were quickly implemented prior to final release.
Since the components would be in contact with petroleum products prototype parts produced through SLA (stereolithography) or RTV could not be used, especially for agency (UL, TÜV) approval. OPW partnered with Catalyst to provide plastic injection mold tooling for the components to be used for analysis and alpha/beta field testing. This also allowed for a number of materials and colors to be validated. Catalyst designed and produced tools using the SPRInT rapid tooling process.
Through close collaboration between OPW and Catalyst, the Avance product development was completed on time and on budget. The Catalyst team was able to take a non-manufacturable product concept and develop solution that not only maintained the original design aesthetic, but was cost effective to produce, assemble, and service. Additionally, the original intent was to utilize the SPRInT tooling temporarily for test purposes. Due to delays with the high-volume production tool supplier, OPW was able to utilize the Catalyst SPRInT tools to produce plastic components and “bridge” their initial production requirements. For the first months of production, Catalyst supplied components to OPW’s European assembly operation which allowed the Avance product launch to stay on schedule. Because of the success of the Avance project, OPW again partnered with Catalyst in the development of a matching vinyl boot for the European Diesel product line. This time, however, they came to Catalyst first.