I recently came across an interesting story about the origin of Paintball (this will circle back to workstations, I promise). This story is one of those happy accidents of innovation that began with the forest products industry solving a simple problem -- workers needing to mark trees to be cut even when they were blocked by streams or barriers.
The Nelson Paint Company invented the Nel-Spot tree-marking gun, and the encapsulated, washable paintball, which allowed trees to be marked from a distance, in the 1960s. The guns were useful for marking livestock as well, and it was only a matter of time before a few guys started shooting each other... and a new sport was born.
Today’s designers can’t rely on moments of serendipity, but must instead rely on the right professional tools to produce true innovation. One of our customers, KEE Action Sports (now the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of paintball markers/guns, goggles, paintballs, and clothing), understands this concept well. KEE decided they needed powerful, professional workstations from Dell, with Intel Xeon and Core technology, instead of standard PCs, to out-innovate the competition.
KEE uses SolidWorks for general CAD/CAM, and Tebis for reverse engineering CAD/CAM. For these applications, we recommended Dell Precision T1600 workstations with quad-core Intel Xeon E3 family processors, T1500 workstations with Intel Core i7 processors, and M6600 mobile workstations with an Intel Core i5-2500 Mobile Series processor. I believe choosing a true, professional class workstation was key to KEE’s success for a couple of reasons.
First, we work with Dassault Systemes to test and certify Precision workstations with their SolidWorks application. Once certification is complete, we are able to develop recommended configurations (more than 93 to be exact) to ensure that each user will experience optimal application performance with SolidWorks. Second, some of our workstations come with an interesting, proprietary IP called Reliable Memory Technology, or RMT.
You may be familiar with Error Correcting Code memory, which detects and corrects single bit memory errors. RMT goes one step further by identifying the bad spot in the memory, and mapping that part of the DIMM out of the way.
This ensures that neither the operating system, nor the application, will ever write there again. Since memory errors happen more often than most people think, this technology cuts down on the risk of downtime or reduced productivity.
With new technology in place, KEE avoided these unproductive moments, and was instead able to create renderings in an hour that took five hours, or a full day, just a few years ago. KEE’s design process literally went twice as fast, which never would have been possible on a standard PC. These technologies help KEE keep up with trends in the paintball industry, and give players what they want.
KEE Action Sports has leveraged true professional workstation innovation with Intel technology to become, and remain, a leader in the sport of Paintball. And that doesn’t happen by accident.