Swift Group Design Team is widely recognised as the most innovative and creative within our industry for the ongoing market leading and awarding winning designs year after year.
The team who are responsible for the design and styling of all Swift Group products are all degree qualified designers with backgrounds mainly in automotive and commercial interior design.
The designers work extensively in 3D CAD, but the design process starts with 2D layouts and sketches, defining the design of the new products. The Swift Group has invested heavily in the sophisticated automotive design software (Autodesk Alias Showcase) which allows the designers to create innovative 2D design sketches directly into the computers packages via drawing tablets. At an early stage these 2D sketches are developed into 3D CAD models. These 3D CAD models are then rendered to create photographic style images of the design.
This workflow allows the designers to explore new designs quickly and accurately. The 3D CAD images allow the wider Swift design and engineering teams to participate in the early design concept development, resulting in a more thoroughly evaluated design.
The main design challenge that the design team face is being able to package all the individual elements required for a Touring Caravan, Motorhome or Holiday Home into a confined space in a way that makes the most of the available space, whilst at the same time ensuring that it is user-friendly. It is a case of space optimisation combined with ergonomics and aesthetics.
Complex exterior and interior moulded shapes are developed in 3D CAD and are milled directly from the computer data on CNC machines. This creates highly accurate tools for the manufacture of all plastic and GRP parts. At this stage aerodynamic evaluation takes place for exterior body shapes allowing the designs to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible.
Exterior graphics designs are developed in a 2D graphics illustration package and then projected onto our Caravans and Motorhomes in our 3D CAD package allowing the design team to evaluate the design as if it were real.
The interior fabrics, wood grains, laminates and other surface finishes are all applied to our 3D models and allow the design team to review all aspects of the design in a virtual environment, well before a physical prototype has been built. This workflow allows the designers to explore new designs quickly and accurately. The 3D CAD images allow the wider Swift design and engineering teams to participate in the early design concept development, resulting in a more thoroughly evaluated design.
All new products are developed using recognised Project Management processes, tools and techniques. Each Project goes through various gateways and approval stages to ensure that each new product development is managed and controlled to ensure project success. The Project Management team is responsible for delivering high quality products on time and to budget.
Using recognised planning processes and planning tools the Swift Group is able to continuously develop high quality new products season after season to maintain our reputation as the leading manufacturer.
The Engineering Team consists of a number of specialist mechanical engineers who deliver detailed component and assembly specifications to the factory and supplier base utilising the latest 3D CAD software. The engineers are responsible for ensuring their designs meet the strict design and engineering standards set by the company.
All Swift Engineers use the latest highly sophisticated PTC Creo (or ProENGINNER Wildfire V) CAD package and are able to fully manage engineering projects, whilst working to time, weight and cost deliverables without compromising quality or functionality.
The Swift Group first began the migration to 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) from 2D CAD in 2005, since then we have never looked back. The latest base CAD package is PTC Creo. Every external component is stored within PTC Windchill as a supplier part.
These components are used to confirm the correct installation, define packaging space and identify clashes and any issues with the component prior to build.
Using our own in-house simulation software (CAE) Computer Aided Engineering we are able to validate and simulate new or current designs using real world load conditions. The software allows our engineers to understand how component parts their fastenings and fixtures will react under certain conditions. In addition to any individual components, full assemblies can also be analysed allowing us to investigate the interfaces between materials and loads.
The Finite Element Method (FEM) software allows the trained Swift engineers to undertake detailed analyses on various components to ensure they are designed and fully optimised to keep cost and weight to a minimum whilst maintaining the performance criteria.
Full Body Simulations
The Swift Group has recently started to develop full body simulations of our products using physical data collated from the Millbrook Proving Ground.
Historically, undertaking a full structure analysis has been very difficult if not impossible due to the nature of the materials and the connections within a structure making it difficult to simulate.
The Swift Group has undertaken full instrumentation of vehicles to gain input loads and deflections while travelling around the Millbrook durability test track. This data has been invaluable in simulating real-life load cases into our products on digital models prior to building a prototype.
Using the data gathered, The Swift Group has created and correlated a number of Finite Element Models using our in house FEA packages. Starting with simple composite structures and joints we have been able to gain high levels of accuracy when modelling structures.
We now model complete vehicles including all furniture modules to represent vehicle deflections and input loads. The results have enabled better understanding of the dynamic loading conditions within our products.
The Swift Group now fully develops products in a digital environment with the confidence that the decisions taken in the design stage will result in well engineered robust and durable products.
Using the latest advanced engineering techniques, including Computer Aided Design (CAD) and the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and before hard tooling starts of new components, the design is further validated using rapid prototype models.
Rapid Prototypes has become a main stream design tool for the Swift Group engineers. The use of rapid prototypes allows our engineers to create fully dimensional representative components for form, fit and function directly from 3D CAD data in a matter of hours using 3D printers. This enables us to bring new fully defined components and products to market much quicker than previously.
As well as traditional plastic components we are now able to produce aluminium rapid prototypes.
While digital techniques can design and validate a components and assemblies, we also believe that it is important to build physical prototypes to prove performance in the real world.
The engineers have access to a dedicated area where such components can be trialled and tested away from the production environment. This area contains durability rigs, ovens, full water test systems along with numerous 12V and 230V power systems.
The Swift engineers use numerous measuring equipment including Laser thermometers, CO analysers, LUX meters, pressure gauges, data loggers and spectrum analysers. These are just some of the many tools available along with sensitive measuring equipment to ensure every aspect of a component is understood, recorded and analysed.
The Swift Group are proud members and supporters of the National Caravan Council our industry trade body. Each new vehicle type is independently inspected by both the NCC and our Type Approval authority to ensure compliance with the legislative requirements.
European Whole Vehicle Type approval sets out strict requirements that vehicles must be manufactured too for safety and road worthiness. In 2003, the Swift Group were the first manufacturer in the UK to introduce European Whole Vehicle Type approval to its Motorhome ranges (well ahead of mandatory introduction). In doing so Swift set the precedence for our competitors to follow. Again, in 2010 the Swift Group were the first manufacturer to introduce European Whole Vehicle Type approval on all its Touring Caravan Products setting the benchmark once again.
The legislation team actively work with various trade bodies to ensure full legislation and safety compliance of our products.
The CAD (Computer Aided Design) Team consists of highly trained Design Engineers who create and maintain the internal manufacturing drawings for the factory. With detailed product knowledge of both our products and internal systems our engineers use the fully integrated PTC Creo 3D CAD software to generate high quality information for the factory and internal Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machinery to operate from to give extremely high levels of accuracy and repeatability.
Bills of Materials
The BOM (Bills of Materials) are one of the key parts of our design and manufacturing process. Our MRP (Materials Requirement Planning) system developed specifically for us takes the data from our engineering Bill of Material (BoM) and parts databases and ensures that the correct parts are ordered and available in time to suit the manufacturing build. Everything we do, from ordering production parts, to managing the build and dealing with after sales parts is managed through our comprehensive BoM and database system.
When any caravan is despatched the complete BOM of the parts which was used to manufacture the product is logged and archived on our system against the specific chassis number, so any Swift Group dealer can check the exact specification and part number revision of each part used in the build for after sales orders using our comprehensive Supercare aftercare system.
The Swift Group recognises it has to protect its Intellectual Property and has a number of patents and Patent applications with the Intellectual Property Office. Our recent new developments have led to further patent applications being submitted to protect our designs.
The Swift Group & The Engineering Community
As one of the largest single employers in the East Yorkshire region, The Swift Group are proud to be part of the local community and the wider engineering community. Since 2009, our Engineering team have actively built relationships with local engineering organisations, Colleges, Universities and companies to ensure that we are able to integrate with the community and offer opportunities and support to those within the engineering field.
Hull College – Engineering Apprentices
Hull College, located just a few miles from The Swift Group headquarters, is one of the most successful and largest providers of further education and higher education courses in the UK. Hull College offers a number of different engineering apprentices and the Swift Group uses this potential skill base to build on the knowledge within our Engineering Team along with ensuring that we are able to continue to develop young engineers and support the local communities.
Each year, The Swift Group employs a number of apprentices across the business, including apprentice engineers. The Swift Group has benefitted from having a number of apprentices go through the Swift Group engineering apprentice scheme, the majority of which have gone on to gain full-time permanent positions within the company upon completion of their apprentiship.
The Swift Group is committed to developing young engineers and offers a wide range of opportunities for young engineers to achieve their potential development goals.
Sheffield Hallam – Undergraduate Engineers
In 2005, the Swift Group began working with Sheffield Hallam University Engineering department and soon forged strong links with the University. Each year we offer up to four Undergraduate Engineering Students the opportunity to work in a manufacturing based company for 12 months. The students are studying either a BEng. or BSc. Courses.
This partnership gives the students the fantastic opportunity to experience a real world engineering team, real world problems and real world issues in the timescales that a accompany a fast moving dynamic organisation such as the Swift Group. It also allows the Swift Group to develop young qualified engineers, with the aim to employ them as Engineers upon graduation. In some cases, The Swift Group will sponsor the student through their final year and should they return to Swift, they will join our four year Development Plan to help them become an experienced and accomplished engineer.
Hull University – Engineering Links
The Swift Group has good professional links with Hull University and we regularly use their resources to help develop our products. In recent years, this has included the creation of rapid prototypes, the use of 3D Laser Scanning equipment along with contacts with their academics to further our understanding into specific areas of interest.
Engineering Innovation Institute
The Engineering Innovation Institute (Eii) is a division of the Engineering Department at Hull University, whose specific aim is to aid the transfer of knowledge from the University to industry
The Swift Group uses the services of the Eii to help us with a number of specialist projects.
Mechanical Engineering - IMechE
The Swift Group are proud to have corporate members, registered with The Engineering Council (the UK regulatory body for the engineering profession), from both the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and Institute of Engineering Technology (IET).
Within the D&D Department, we have engineers working towards Incorporated Engineer Status (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng) status with the IMechE, along with those that have already reached this benchmark for engineering excellence.
IMechE – Formula Student
Formula Student is about building future engineering talent by designing and producing a single-seater racing car, not just in design and manufacture, but in many of the management, marketing and people skills so vital in the modern world, across all sectors of employment.
It is the largest educational engineering competition of its kind in the world. Backed by industry and high profile engineers such as its Patron Ross Brawn, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers.
The Swift Group are the Lead Sponsor for the Hull University Formula Student Team for 2012.
Along with providing financial support to the team, The Swift Group have encouraged a number of our suppliers to become involved and have supported the team in creating an accurate financial plan and overall strategy.
The Swift Group have a number of specialist partners at our disposal to undertake specific studies into our products. These partners have been chosen for their expertise in any given field, for example durability testing, stability testing or aerodynamic studies.