Bowhead is a young company born out of the vision of its founder, Christian Bagg, who strived to build an adaptive e-bike that would allow “everyBODY” to experience the outdoors he enjoys so much.
In 1996, a snowboarding injury caused Christian to become paralyzed from the waist down. As an athlete, machinist, and creative and determined problem solver, he started designing equipment to help make life better for himself and others facing mobility challenges. One result is Bowhead, which designs and manufactures off-road adaptive e-bikes and has its home base in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Sanket Patil is a mechanical designer and engineer-in-training at Bowhead. He started in the business as a volunteer, passionate about delivering an adaptive biking experience and ready to contribute his skills. Beginning in 2020, he joined the company as a full-time designer, troubleshooting issues found during field testing and improving designs.
Bowhead e-bikes are engineered to order to suit a person’s level of mobility and specific needs and wants. Sanket explained that the whole purpose is to accommodate each unique user, so the design process must follow suit.
“A customer chooses options depending on variables such as their foot size, or the type of seat they prefer, or whether they have use of their hands or back muscles. This customization means we need to manage hundreds of parts, complex assemblies, and hundreds of thousands of possible combinations.”
Better data management became a priority
Bowhead’s first e-bike model was REACH. When they moved on to the RX model, Sanket said they suddenly had a lot of data that couldn’t be managed in a folder system any longer.
In 2020, Sanket was the only one working on CAD regularly. A folder system worked fine at first, but it soon became difficult and time consuming to implement and control revisions. He also lacked detailed design history, and creating multiple files was causing a storage capacity issue.
He had some experience working with product data management (PDM) solutions, but he was wary of the upfront investment that would be required and knew that Bowhead would also need to outsource customization and implementation.
“We had also added engineers working on our designs remotely,” he said. “We had to quickly implement a PDM solution that was flexible and easily scalable as our company continued to grow.”
The path to choosing 3DEXPERIENCE
Bowhead was already involved with the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs program, so they approached Dassault to talk about their evolving needs and get advice. Dassault introduced Bowhead to 3DEXPERIENCE (3DX) and offered a chance to try the platform and discover its capabilities.
“We run the platform practically out of the box and since it’s cloud-based, we don’t have to worry about maintaining servers or hiring an IT specialist. These are crucial aspects for a start-up like ours.”
Bowhead has since grown to have four engineers on site in Canada and two contractors who connect to 3DX from India.
“It’s easy to involve all the engineers in product development,” Sanket said. “We all work with the latest revision. I can easily redline a drawing, send a change order, and later approve that change. And as the company matures, we are expanding to managing other parts of our operation.”
Beyond CAD data
Since implementing 3DEXPERIENCE, Bowhead has expanded beyond using the original design-based features into project planning and change management features.
They have also started using some product lifestyle management tools the platform offers, such as doing full product BOMs, which include non-engineering items like harnesses and labels.
“We were in the R&D phase of the RX when we got 3DEXPERIENCE and it really set us up for success in manufacturing. The careful tracking makes the design process transparent to the end user. Every piece of a product’s history is searchable and traceable.”
Onboarding and support from Javelin
Implementing a new technology platform while developing a new bike might have been daunting but Sanket says the software was user friendly and easy to learn. And Javelin–A TriMech Company, which provides and supports SOLIDWORKS and Dassault Systèmes solutions, made sure he and his team were trained and positioned for success.
“Javelin guided us through the setup and resolved queries as they arose. Their service is impeccable and response times are amazing. With their help, we didn’t have a single day of downtime, which is absolutely essential for us to meet our deadlines.”
Javelin has a detailed process for onboarding clients to get them operational and feeling confident quickly. As the main admin, Sanket did a training session over three half days; others on his team joined him for the last day.
He explained that he knew the system could do certain things, but he didn’t know how, and that these were the kinds of questions he posed to Javelin.
“One thing I struggled with was the part-numbering system. Ours was already in place and I didn’t want to change it. Javelin understood the ins and outs of 3DEXPERIENCE and created a process workaround involving file naming, which made our existing system compatible.”
Sanket also noted that he’s glad Javelin and 3DEXPERIENCE are at the helm of Bowhead’s data management and will take care of the increasing complexity they’ll face as the company grows.
“There is no stopping us now – we will continue to innovate and bring smiles to our customers’ faces.”
Bowhead is online at bowheadcorp.com.
Why is 3DEXPERIENCE proving successful for Bowhead?
- 3DEXPERIENCE Works supplements their existing desktop SOLIDWORKS tools with powerful cloud-based data and product lifecycle management.
- They now have one cohesive system accessible from any device.
- 3DEXPERIENCE Works is ready to handle more (and new types of) users and complexity as the company grows.
- No major upfront capital investment was required, well suited to a start-up like theirs.
- Bowhead has a trusted relationship with their technology partner Javelin.