VR in product development
Haukur Hafsteinsson, embedded software engineer at Marel, explains in a story at Marel´s homepage how the road to making food processing equipment is now a whole lot smarter.
In product development, simulations save both time and materials, and allow innovation teams to be much more creative, taking greater risks that aim very high in terms of coming up with novel solutions to food processing challenges. Virtual reality makes simulations even more valuable, giving product developers lifelike feedback and enabling realistic interaction without having to wait weeks or months to trial a new concept.
“Computer simulations are a great example of how we make product development more effective,” says Haukur. “Running simulations to test out new ideas – or to test proven solutions in a specific layout – can cut a months-long process down to a few days or even less.”
Rapid prototyping can be achieved by running a new idea in a simulated and virtual world and getting the feedback right away. “So we can improve the hardware design, fix software bugs and correct any process issues before building the system.”
“When we wanted to flip the fish around from tail first to head first in between processes, for instance, we had the luxury of using simulations to test out many ideas in a variety of simulated production settings before taking any to the next stage of actual production in the real world,” Haukur explains.
Better trained employees
Marel also invites customers to trial their new equipment using simulations, long before delivery. The two key benefits of this exercise are staff training and data optimization: training employees in how to run and maintain the equipment, especially when it will differ greatly from existing procedures, and on how to make the best use of the data generated.
“This applies both to the software embedded in the equipment itself and also the Innova Food Processing Software that enables them to use the data to improve processing results – yield, productivity, individual operator performance and so forth.”
“After the actual installation, when we press the start button, the system works as expected because we have already simulated almost everything,” Haukur says. “Everyone knows how the system works because they’ve had training using the simulation weeks or months beforehand. This includes Marel service, customer maintenance and production.”
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