Performance Simulation Software Goes Extra Mile21 Sep, 2004 By: Cadalyst Staff
Australian rail and transportation supplier improves product design and reduces tooling costs by 20%.
Sydney, Australia-based Vulcanite is a supplier of composite and vulcanized products for the rail and transportation industries. Like any successful manufacturer, Vulcanite constantly looks for ways to better its products and customer service. Matthew Park, managing director at Vulcanite, explains, "The fundamental objective of the company is to continuously improve and provide world-class products and services to meet customer and industry changing needs." To stay competitive, the company must continually improve quality, safety, and efficiency.
With that in mind, Vulcanite recently looked to MSC.Software to help improve its manufacturing process. MSC.Software works with manufacturers to address the new product development process, helping improve concept development, design, testing, and production activities using VPD (virtual product development).
VPD helps manufacturers leverage computing systems and software technology, integrating the engineering computing environment with design and analysis software, collaboration and decision support tools, process capture and automation tools, and robust design methods. The approach helps manufacturers make better product-development decisions, explore innovative design alternatives, and consistently "get the product right" in terms of performance, safety, durability, manufacturability, maintainability, cost, and time to market, according to MSC.Software.
"We approached MSC.Software on a specific project because our customer had mandated FEA (finite-element analysis) design work as part of their tender process," says Park. "Initially, we used MSC.Software's consulting services team to enhance the design and performance of our prototype design for a new LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) spring.
"The outcome was a major success. We were awarded the refurbishment contract for the replacement of the LRV spring, worth up to AUD$300,000 (approximately US$207,000), and immediately issued with other opportunities within the bogie design, further increasing our order book," adds Park.
Consequently, Vulcanite decided to purchase MSC.Marc, an FEA program for linear and nonlinear analyses of structural, fluid, thermal, and coupled systems, which simulates the performance of Vulcanite's high-fatigue, life-resilient composite designs (figure 1). Vulcanite also incorporated MSC.Marc Mentat, a graphical user interface for preparing, submitting, monitoring, controlling, reviewing, and storing FEA analyses. Finally, it called on the on-site training services offered by the local MSC.Software office to develop a system for improving future designs using VPD.
Figure 1. MSC.Marc finite-element analysis software shows the results of a stress test on a composite bushing design (right).
"Typically, we set a target of eight to 12 weeks to produce a prototype, depending on the design," says Park. In the past, the product-development process involved manufacturing numerous prototypes making tooling modifications, which often delayed production by several weeks.
"Since implementing MSC.Marc, we can finalize the tool design with only minor modifications required to dial in the tooling for production, thereby eliminating delays associated with retooling," Park explains. "So not only do we deliver on time, but we also save up to 20% on our tooling costs.
"Our investment with MSC.Software amounted to about AUD$60,000 (US$41,400)," Park continues. "Since then, we've had a number of wins using the system to design superior products for a wide range of applications, helping us to grow the business organically by competing successfully for new business, enhancing customer satisfaction through the reliable delivery of superior quality products, generating new orders, and, importantly, increasing our profitability."