Surfing for Fun and Profit: How PTC Creo Helps American Wave Machines Showcase the Perfect Wave

AM Wavw

If the designers at American Wave Machines had their way, you could go surfing on a great wave – right now, no matter where you are.  Winter, summer, desert, prairie, mountains, or coast.

The Southern California-based company specializes in designing surfing attractions for resorts, malls, and anyone else who wants an authentic experience for their guests.

Choose from two types of surf experiences:

  • The SurfStream® is a standing wave that can fit easily in a shopping center retail store space. The pool measures as little as 2000 square feet and generates a single wave that never breaks. It can be engineered with slower waist-high waves for beginners or faster water with swells up to 6-feet tall for more adventurous riders.
  • The PerfectSwell™ generates moving waves that cross a larger pool. While these waves dwindle over the course of your ride, the system can produce up to 1000 an hour, so there’s little waiting to catch the next one. Plus, the wave is adjustable and can reach heights of 8 feet.

Wave pools have been around for a while, but what’s unique about American Wave Machines is that you can stand up and surf the waves. A longtime surfer, founder Bruce McFarland says he wants to create an authentic experience. “Riding SurfStream on a real surfboard can help replicate the skill progression that you get in the ocean.”

Fun All Over

But American Wave Machines aren’t just trainers. They’re a lot of fun. That’s why resort owners have started installing them far from any surf Mecca, in unexpected places like South Dakota, New Hampshire, and even in Russia.

“We’d like to see surf centers built in every town,” says McFarland. “And why not surfing as an Olympic sport? No matter where the games are hosted!”

Seems ambitious until McFarland starts talking about the scope of some of American Wave Machine’s upcoming projects.

SkyVenture, a New Hampshire attraction, will debut the world’s largest standing wave surfing machine as part of its “Surf’s Up” expansion in Fall 2013. This indoor SurfStream will be connected to a skydiving facility with a retractable roof for warm weather. There will be glass walls for spectators, surfside lounging, and even a café.

Oasis Surf will soon open its doors at the Quartier DIX30, one of the largest trendsetting malls in Montreal, Canada.   The indoor facility features a SurfStream® model 5024 combined with a full service restaurant and bar featuring surf cuisine from around the world.

The team is working on a PerfectSwell project for a customer in Russia, creating a 30,000 square foot pool with a 15-chamber wave-generating configuration. Multiple chambers give you more variation in waves and “a wave much bigger than anything you see in a standard wave pool,” says McFarland.

After that? McFarland says there’s a project in South Dakota called Rippin-Rapids-Resort-and-Adventure-Sports that will combine the standing waves of a SurfStream with the ocean-like waves of the PerfectSwell—another first for the company.

The Profit

For a lot of people, especially in places like Southern California, surfing isn’t a sport–it’s a way of life.  But don’t let that fool you. McFarland and team are serious business people who sell sophisticated machines carefully engineered to bring value to customers.

“We really promote surfing as a feasible sport or activity to have in a paying venue,” he says. “Resort owners do very well with big pools that can absorb a lot of people with a controllable wave.”

Once the owner has a pool in place, it not only takes in admission fees, but it also acts as an attraction for the entire venue. In other words, the pool acts as a huge advertising boost to a resort, shopping center, or any other facility that hosts it.

Another strength of American Wave Machines pools, says McFarland, is that they are long-lasting and low maintenance. For a new resort owner, that may not seem important. But for anyone who’s been in the business for a while, lifecycle costs are more important than initial costs.

With PTC Creo

American Wave Machines uses PTC Creo at every stage of its development, starting with the sales process.

In fact, McFarland says that a customer for the Russian project approached the company after seeing PTC Creo renderings from American Wave Machines on the Internet. Virtual prototyping sped up development and helped produce a more competitive product, leading to 30% sales growth each year for American Wave Machines.

“We show everyone the 3D design to give buyers a look under the hood. They want to know, ‘What are we going to build? What is this thing going to look like?’”

“It’s good to see it before you build it, agrees staff engineer Clement Ginestet. “So no surprises arise.”

The team also uses the software to create scale models and to communicate ideas more clearly with customers throughout the development process. PTC Creo Simulate is used to prototype the perfect wave and build in redundant safety features.

The results? Here are a few:

  • Virtual prototyping speeds up development and helped produce a more competitive product, leading to 30% sales growth each year for American Wave Machines since 2008.
  • PTC Creo quickly catches design flaws early–when they’re still inexpensive to fix and helps reduce design errors which could cost $10,000-$50,000 per project resulting in higher quality and faster time-to-market
  • Use of 3D renderings have drawn several customers into their sales funnel, resulting in several large global projects
  • Greater Bill of Materials efficiency with PTC Creo means American Wave Machines can take on 10 or more custom projects a year

And Clement, the staff engineer, states that PTC Creo is his tool of choice to design wave machines that help surfers develop the skills to catch the big waves.  Surfs Up!   Time to catch some Tasty Waves!

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