ML 100 Awards
dirtt.png“We wouldn’t be able to offer such mass-custom solutions if we had to turn design drawings into manufacturing code.” —Tracy Baker, chief operating officer, DIRTT





Software platform flattens silos, saves manufacturer $24 million

When existing systems couldn’t integrate the steps in the manufacturing cycle, DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) Environmental Solutions invested $1.3 million to develop its own software. Five years later, the investment by the maker of modular walls and other interior components has grown to $9.2 million and delivered a return on investment of 1,563%. In fact, the ICE software platform has been so successful in filling the gaps that traditionally exist between steps in the manufacturing and design cycles that DIRTT has established a subsidiary, Ice Edge Business Solutions, to market it to other manufacturers.

Using the ICE platform, DIRTT can sell custom products for the same price as stock items and deliver them in two to four weeks, compared with the industry norm of 12 to 16 weeks.

The ICE system allows DIRTT to seamlessly integrate the sales, order, engineering, manufacturing, and delivery processes. This frees up employees from the need to re-key information into downstream systems, reinterpret drawings or design information, and audit information sources such as drawings, renderings, and bills of material.

To streamline design, engineering, and production, the ICE platform interfaces with AutoCAD, and the ICElink tool automatically supplies data to machining equipment on the shop floor. A video-game-like interface simplifies use for employees, suppliers, and customers.

Since DIRTT began implementing the ICE platform in 2005, savings attributed to it have risen every year, reaching $24.2 million in 2010. Much of the savings come from a 98% reduction in design personnel requirements, elimination of printed and electronic catalogs, faster order processing, and a 99% reduction in engineering time. Now, engineering changes that would have taken 10 weeks are finished in four hours, and error rates have dropped to less than 1%, minimizing the need for physical test-fitting of assemblies.

“This PM100 win means experts in the industry recognize we are bringing client-driven manufacturing to the world,” says Tracy Baker, chief operating officer at DIRTT. “Our clients experience their design in realistic 3D fly-throughs where they are free to make modifications. We have very little human error and very fast lead times. We wouldn’t be able to offer such mass-custom solutions if we had to turn design drawings into manufacturing code.”