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Enabling mechatronics product development with digital prototyping

Today's manufacturers are using a mechatronics-based approach to integrate the electronic, mechanical, and software components of their increasingly complex products.


Digital Prototyping allows disparate engineering teams to work from a single digital model, saving time and reducing errors throughout the design process. The Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping enables manufacturers to achieve the full benefits of mechatronics product development.

The Need for a New Approach
Today’s manufacturers also face unrelenting pressure to continuously develop innovative new products.

According to a recent survey of CEOs, two-thirds of executives believe that innovation is vital to the future of their companies. Their concern is understandable; according to one estimate, the products that generate nearly 70 percent of revenues today will be obsolete by 2010.

In response to this call for innovation, manufacturers have accelerated their adoption of electronics.

Research shows that 92 per cent of manufacturers now incorporate electronic elements into their products.

The automotive industry provides a prime example. While the proportion of a car’s cost that can be attributed to electronic systems has increased by an average of 8.3% per year over the past eight years, the proportion attributed to mechanical systems has decreased by an average of 3.2%. These trends are broadly consistent across all industries.

As manufacturers respond to the demands of the market, they must deal with the added complexities of synchronizing mechanical, electronic, and software elements into one integrated system. In the process, they must effectively coordinate disparate engineering teams. A mechatronics-based approach can help.

Effective mechatronics product development demands a focus on three key engineering activities:

• Multi-Disciplinary Design and Engineering. Mechatronics refers to the integration of control systems, electrical systems, and mechanical systems. A mechatronics system is not just a marriage of electrical and mechanical systems, and is more than just a control system. It is a complete integration of all of them. Top-performing manufacturers are 3.2 times more likely to allocate design requirements to systems.

• Managing Communication and Workflow. Integration of systems should be coupled with improvements in the coordination between the discipline-specific teams that are responsible for creating individual subsystems. The often complex inter-relationships between individual sub-systems demand effective communication and clear ownership. Top-performing manufacturers are 2.8 times more likely to communicate change among their engineering disciplines.

• Effective Early Validation. If manufacturers are going to develop cheaper, more reliable, and more flexible systems, they must validate across the traditional boundaries of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics, and control engineering at the earliest stages of the design process. Top performing manufacturers are 7.3 times more likely to digitally validate system behavior.

The Mechatronics Advantage
Manufacturers that harness the best practices of mechatronics can achieve significant benefits. Best-in-class manufacturers are more able to reach their targets for development costs, product revenue, and product quality, and to hit their product launch dates.

Such manufacturers can also:

• Add more features and functions.
• Reduce the size, weight, and cost of their products.
• Improve their overall efficiency.
• Leverage adaptive control and diagnostics to improve reliability and reduce maintenance costs.
• Customize or upgrade products by reprogramming embedded firmware.

In addition, a mechatronics-based approach mitigates risk and solves common design challenges such as the slow, serial machine design process; poor communication between machine designers and customers; and risky physical machine testing.

This article was excerpted from a white paper courtesy Autodesk, Inc. To view the complete article, click here.

www.autodesk.com