Case Study

GenCell Delivers Clean Hydrogen Power on Demand

Israeli renewable energy company says cloud-native Onshape helps accelerate their design process by 10X

The Challenge

GenCell is a leading developer of hydrogen fuel cell solutions that provide clean and sustainable energy for the telecom, homeland security, healthcare and utilities industries. Founded in Israel in 2011, the company has grown to over 140 employees and has a worldwide distribution and support network. In 2020, the GenCell engineering team was experiencing significant bottlenecks related to not having a PDM system for version control. The company estimated it was losing six weeks of work annually due to nearly daily CAD crashes and having to repeatedly fix and debug models. GenCell was seeking an alternative CAD and PDM platform to accelerate product development.


  • After switching from SOLIDWORKS, GenCell estimates that cloud-native Onshape has accelerated its product design process by 10X.

  • Onshape’s automatic version control significantly reduces design and manufacturing errors, eliminating needless material waste and rework.

  • Onshape’s built-in PDM saved GenCell $33,000 in upfront software costs vs. purchasing an add-on system, and saved an additional $70,000 in SOLIDWORKS maintenance fees and required hardware upgrades.

  • GenCell no longer experiences CAD crashes, which used to happen almost daily, resulting in decreased productivity.

Jonathan Schwartz Headshot
Jonathan Schwartz Senior Mechanical Engineer GenCell
GenCell logo

“Onshape genuinely makes our lives a lot easier. It eliminated some crazy headaches for our department, and as a bonus also made our management and finance teams happy because it saved us lots of time and money.”

Hydrogen has emerged as one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the quest to reverse climate change.

The element has a number of economical and eco-friendly advantages – it’s emission-free, powerful and abundant. While hydrogen’s widespread use for primary power is currently limited due to available infrastructure, GenCell provides reliable and scalable hydrogen fuel cell systems for off-grid and backup power in the telecom, homeland security, healthcare and utilities industries.

GenCell’s hydrogen-on-demand generators uniquely use anhydrous ammonia (NH3) as fuel to create clean energy at 10 times the efficiency of competing solutions. Ammonia is a widely available commodity that costs half as much as diesel fuel.

diagram of GenCell EVOX generator Beyond charging electric vehicles, GenCell’s EVOX generator delivers instant electricity backup during power outages, and can provide additional revenues by selling excess power to the grid at peak demand times.

Since its 2011 launch, Israel-based GenCell has grown rapidly to more than 140 employees and has received international acclaim in the industry. In 2020, GenCell was awarded first place in the homeland security sector and second place overall in the Global Startup Challenge, the most prestigious startup competition in Israel.

Searching for a Single Source of Design Truth

CAD Model of GenCell generator To design its hydrogen-on-demand generators, GenCell uses cloud-native Onshape for its built-in version control and real-time collaboration tools.

In addition to providing emergency backup power for multiple industries, GenCell also builds off-grid charging stations for electric vehicles. The company’s fuel cells have minimal moving parts, redundant internal systems and are robust enough to withstand harsh environments. 

To design their green energy generators, GenCell relies on Onshape, a cloud-native CAD platform with built-in PDM and real-time collaboration tools. The engineering team switched to Onshape from SOLIDWORKS in 2022, after experiencing significant bottlenecks related to not having a PDM system for version control.

Jonathan Schwartz, Senior Mechanical Engineer at GenCell, noted that manually tracking design versions is a process highly prone to human error. Not sharing a single source of truth across the department made it tougher to track the overall design history and stay on top of the latest changes to the many assemblies and subassemblies.

“Verifying the data manually to ensure models are up-to-date became a huge issue for us,” he recalls. “We were making a lot of errors. Something that happened a lot is we would make an update to a design, but the person ordering the parts would not get the update and would order old parts.”

Schwartz says he was frustrated by the amount of time his team was devoting to debugging and fixing CAD models in SOLIDWORKS instead of working on new designs. An audit of the 12 mechanical engineers in his department revealed they were losing six weeks of work annually dealing with these issues.

With Onshape’s built-in version control, any time an engineer makes a design change, everyone on the team can instantly see it. A comprehensive Edit History allows users to quickly revert back to any earlier stage of the design if desired.

In addition, GenCell’s engineers were experiencing nearly daily CAD crashes in SOLIDWORKS, resulting in needless rework and decreased productivity. Onshape users never lose work in the case of a software crash or hardware failure. All data is stored instantaneously and redundantly in the cloud.

“Onshape genuinely makes our lives a lot easier,” says Schwartz. “I’m a big fan of the platform as it eliminated some crazy headaches for our department, and as a bonus also made our management and finance teams happy because it saved us lots of time and money.”

“I’d estimate that Onshape helped speed up our product design process by a factor of 10,” he adds. “Because we no longer have to worry about version control, and now can work together more efficiently with built-in collaboration tools like Comments and Tasks.”

PDM Cost Savings and Reduced IT Overhead 

Schwartz notes he was originally exploring add-on file-based PDM solutions for his team, but was convinced to try cloud-native Onshape after learning about it at a technology conference hosted by Arena, a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform also owned by Onshape’s parent company, PTC

In a cost analysis, Schwartz determined that Onshape would save the company $33,000 in upfront software costs compared to SOLIDWORKS, plus an additional $70,000 of savings in maintenance fees and required hardware upgrades.

During a six-week pilot project, Schwartz also got a ringing endorsement from GenCell’s IT department. Cloud-native Onshape requires no downloads, installations, software upgrades, license codes, server maintenance or network infrastructure.

“With Onshape being online and in the cloud, in just a few clicks I had signed up for a free professional trial. It didn’t require any involvement from IT or any bureaucracy to start testing it out. As a curious engineer, I could immediately dive in and see how it works,” he says. 

“Our IT department said that cloud computing was more reliable than our servers,” recalls Schwartz. “This was actually proven during the pilot project when all our servers went down for a whole morning. I hooked up to my smartphone’s network connection and just carried on working in Onshape while all my colleagues were stuck without anything to do.” 

Better CAD Collaboration Across Departments

GenCell Box By eliminating IT administrative tasks and CAD collaboration bottlenecks, GenCell’s engineering team can devote more time to improving its products and developing new ones.

Since GenCell’s migration to Onshape, Schwartz says he’s been pleasantly surprised by the impact on cross-disciplinary teamwork.

Onshape’s Light User licenses allow non-CAD users to easily access the latest design changes when their expertise and feedback are needed. The earlier outside input is shared, the more likely improvements can be made in the design process. In the past, CAD collaboration across departments was difficult because internal stakeholders outside the engineering team could not access their colleagues’ work. 

“Onshape easily brings those outside of engineering into the loop,” says Schwartz. “Previously, if the marketing department wanted to use real models in their marketing campaigns, it would have been impossible to collaborate with them in real time as many work remotely or are in different locations. Now I just send an email link, they open it up and can immediately view the model,” says Schwartz.

Schwartz says he was surprised to learn how many internal stakeholders in the company could benefit from having easy CAD access, noting that with SOLIDWORKS it used to take up to 6 months to onboard new users (due to hardware and license purchases). Onboarding in Onshape takes minutes, and new hires or contributors can start working right away on any computer, tablet or phone (iOS or Android).

“When we adopted Onshape, we just wanted to solve the problem our mechanical engineers were facing with version control,” he adds. “We had no idea how much we’d also gain from these unexpected networking and collaboration benefits.”

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