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Petdoors finds cloud collaboration man’s best friend

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Built into doors, walls and windows, Petdoors’ range of access hatches for cats and dogs means that our family pets can get outside even when we’re stuck indoors, like during recent lockdowns.

Petdoors director of engineering Kevin Hendrickson says that his California-based team adjusted well to pandemic working restrictions, even taking to home working for design sessions, while heading into the office for the hands-on engineering tasks involved in building the company’s beloved doggy doors.

Onshape PetDoors Rendering web.
The Petdoor Endura Flap, rendered in Onshape

The company has been designing gateways between the home and outdoors for our four-legged friends for nearly 20 years, and has built a loyal following from users for their considerations of pet safety, variable magnetic seal strength, high insulation values and low temperature performance.

To achieve all these features the products – including extreme weather options, and being able to mount flaps into existing doors, windows and even dedicated walls – have a more complex mechanism and design than standard pet flaps, meaning that updating the design is a challenge for the whole team.

Having sourced customer feedback from its online reviews and customer service teams, the Petdoors team began to give it a cleaner look, while making the product easier to assemble during the manufacturing process, all while incorporating customer feedback to make it a better experience overall for users and their owners.

“There were certain elements from the original design that we wanted to maintain because they were great designs and there was no reason to change them, but aside from those we started with a clean slate,” says Hendrickson. “I started by sketching in those constraints in Onshape and working around them to design the new frame and components to integrate with.

“We have four sizes of this pet door, and we use it in door mount, wall mount, window mount and patio door mount formats, so you can imagine all the different sizes of windows and doors,” he says.

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Add in the complexity of adding four different sizes for each variants and different colour ways and the configurations begin to mount up.

“Being able to see all those options without having to design each one discreetly is a big benefit for us,” Hendrickson adds, saying that Onshape’s configuration editor is perfect for this scenario, reducing the need for a PDM system to manage version control, especially with three engineers all constantly collaborating while working remotely via the cloud.

With hybrid working likely to become part of the norm, it’s reassuring that Petdoors design team can get out and about while designing, much like the pets that appreciate their work.