Designers can re-use current models for new projects

Lair | France

Designers can re-use current models for new projects


Case Study

Family tradition merges with new world technology to accelerate product to market


Lair leverages Solid Edge in producing agricultural trailers and material lifting/handling equipment; company improves in-house manufacturing efficiency, reduces costs and increases sales order size

Integrating rich family traditions with advanced technology

As a pioneer in aluminum monocoque coachwork for more than 20 years, Lair leverages its skills, from design through delivery, to produce bodywork and farm stock trailers whose designs are now optimized with Siemens Digital Industries Software’s Solid Edge® software. Compliant with rigorous safety standards and delivered with a certificate of water-tightness, the company’s products are made of both steel and aluminum, providing a long life that requires little maintenance.

The family-owned company was founded in 1952 by Victor Lair. At the age of 21, Victor took over the management of a Cartwright-owned business that manufactured wooden barrels and wagon bodies. Moving from the cart business to agricultural equipment was a short step that was consummated in 1963 when the company built its first tipping trailer for transporting agricultural products. Victor gradually abandoned wood for metal materials (steel and aluminum) and the company’s knowledge was subsequently handed down to Lair’s two children, who eventually assumed control of the business, with Nelly Lair taking over aluminum bodywork and Michel Lair agricultural trailers.

Today, among choices, Lair offers its products via catalog, with many options and variants in place to satisfy customer requirements, while at the same time operating within the framework of existing road transport regulations. The company continues to leverage its history, skills and craftsmanship, only now using the most advanced design and development capabilities.

Solid Edge provides clear advantages over competitive systems

Since November 2009, responsibility for the company’s design office has been entrusted to Jean- Charles Lair, Michel and Claudine’s son. Jean-Charles’ previous experience, using SolidWorks® software, provided structural expertise that he was able to leverage as the company began to apply analysis and simulation technology in its operations.

“As part of our quest for productivity, we have been using Solid Edge since June 2002 for designing our trailers,” says Jean-Charles. “In the face of competition from other companies that had also begun using CAD software, it was imperative for us to forget the drawing board in favor of a computer system that would enable us to remain competitive. At the same time, it was essential to continue to offer the quality products that had become our hallmark. In earlier times, drawings were produced after the construction of the trailer to allow us to duplicate these designs. But thanks to the capabilities of Solid Edge, we now perform the design before manufacturing.”

Solid Edge provides clear advantages over other CAD alternatives. According to Jean-Charles, “Solid Edge is much easier to use and less costly than the other CAD systems on the market. And, Solid Edge is much more advanced in the area of sheet metal work than SolidWorks.”

Solid Edge drove productivity improvements across operations. “We are now using Solid Edge to prepare various workshop planning tasks in our design office, which is key to our strategy of reducing manufacturing time,” says Jean- Charles. “Solid Edge also allows us to standardize spare parts — from washers and the grease nipples for each articulated joint up to and including a complete trailer equipped with chassis and enhancements.”

Standardization also plays an important role in improving the company’s business edge. “In our previous process, our workers manufactured by eye as it was not really possible to obtain standard measurements in the workshop; each trailer was individual,” says Jean-Charles. “Today, using Solid Edge, it is possible to justify the thicknesses of the sheet metal selected and to reduce the quantities of materials used, without reducing the strength of our parts. As a result of standardization, we are benefiting from mass production techniques when working with our suppliers and therefore we are substantially reducing our costs and improving our productivity.”

Using Solid Edge, Lair has increased in-house manufacturing from 50 percent of sales revenue to 65 percent of sales revenue, a 30 percent improvement.