Kick-off workshop for project orientation
Goal: understanding the technical problem at hand, deriving the basic requirements (specifications), project plan with budget and time estimate.
Misunderstandings between the customer and tech-solute constitute the worst possible basis for the start of a demanding development project. It is very important for us to understand the thoughts behind the development task. Often, these are still blurred or not thought through to the final stage and bear the risk of incorrect developments. During the project orientation workshop, not only the desired functionality of the future machine, modularisation intentions and purchased components (e.g. drives, bearings, sensors) are clarified and related challenges are identified. Together, we uncover still unresolved boundary conditions, specify requirements and the desired degree of automation of the machine and determine contact persons and responsibilities during the project. Following the workshop, tech-solute draws up the specifications. They describe what task the solution to be developed has to fulfil from the customer’s point of view. The description should be as concrete and quantifiable as possible. The workshop also brings forth a project plan with budget and time estimates. With the client’s approval, the development project can begin.
Goal: Dimensioning and rough design of the machine, identification of the biggest and, if necessary, additional challenges.
At the start of a project, a preliminary conceptualisation is carried out. The aim here is to approximate the dimensions of the main functions and to develop concepts for sub-functions that have not been considered so far. The design of the solutions is often highly interconnected, which can make it necessary to find solutions iteratively. The design in this phase of the machine development deals in particular with the dimension-determining main function carriers of the system and the physical loads acting on them (e.g. machine frame, rollers, kinematics). Design calculations, in which stiffnesses, dead weights, bearing reactions, etc. are taken into account, result in a rough CAD model (“machine skeleton”) that shows the basic functionality of the overall system with its main functions and gives an impression of the dimensions that the final machine will achieve. If desired, a hazard analysis according to ISO12100 is also carried out in this phase in order to be able to integrate the mechanical and ATEX-relevant aspects into the development at an early stage. Aspects of manufacturability are only roughly addressed at this stage. The pre-conceptualisation phase also serves to identify additional challenges which may lead to additional work packages to be recognised in good time.
Refining the concept
Detailed design of the most challenging or critical subsystems
After successful preliminary conceptualisation, the next step is to refine the shape of the system. Here, we focus on the elements that pose the greatest challenges first. They were identified during the pre-conceptualisation phase. In particular, the required components are dimensioned and specified. For this purpose, corresponding calculation models are set up (e.g. elasticity considerations) and, if necessary, structural optimisations are carried out using FEM. We typically discuss the current development status with our customers on a weekly basis. The definition of an electric drive concept and a concept for the machine control are further components of this phase. Appropriate supply and drive concepts are developed for pneumatically or hydraulically driven systems. The premise for this is the final definition of the functional sequence of all systems and subsystems in close coordination between experts from mechanical and electrical engineering. Experience shows that during this phase there is an increased need for discussions with the relevant suppliers, including enquiries about purchased parts and requests for quotations. Furthermore, we deal with the manufacturability of the large machine parts and the corresponding detailed design. The elaborated detailed concepts are described in the so-called requirements specification.
3D design and electronics development
Fully prepared machine design incl. all manufacturing documents
The design detailing of the machine in 3D CAD is a central task of this phase. The task is to develop subsystems constructively and to connect them to the basic structure of the machine in a suitable way using the purchased parts. Flanges, screw connections, chamfers, reference edges, fitting surfaces, mortise and tenon of welded parts and much more are specified for this purpose. The routing of hydraulic or pneumatic lines must also be carried out in a suitable manner. In many cases, a protective enclosure must also be provided and fitted into the overall system. The electrical engineering department has the task of determining the sensors and components required for the control and safety devices and selecting the supply electronics. Planning suitable cable routing and the switch cabinet (incl. installation plan) are further tasks. The close cooperation and comparison of the developments with the colleagues from the mechanical design department ensures that the necessary installation spaces for the connection of the electrical components are provided for from the very beginning. Further tasks are the creation of the circuit diagrams and the menu interface for the operation as well as the creation of a rough structure for the programming of the PLC. Finally, the necessary production documents (parts lists, drawings, assembly instructions, spare and wear parts lists, etc.) are prepared. If desired, the design data is transferred to the customer’s PPS system.