Complex machine validations performed with multiphysics simulation

Intelligent performance engineering provides improvements in simulation, design and connectivity for machine builders.

By Rahul Garg May 20, 2021

Factory and plant management worldwide see how digital transformation can help innovate in response to changing demand, global competition and an altered technology landscape. The demand is for more intelligent, flexible, configurable and automated industrial machinery equipment. Industrial machinery suppliers will need best practices to keep pace with their machines’ growing complexity.

A connected digital thread can automate information sharing among design teams, analysts, production test teams and service engineers. This process allows teams to evaluate the capabilities and limitations of product variations efficiently. An intelligent performance engineering solution focuses on improvements in simulation, design and connectivity for machine builders. This happens by applying multiphysics simulation, which balances multi-attribute engineering to deliver a broad range of physics and other disciplines under one umbrella.

Complex product requirements

When new materials and methods are applied to manufacturing, it increases product complexity. But the benefits can be significant: Products are now lighter, smaller and more easily customizable to meet consumer demands. Multiphysics simulations enable machine builders to explore the physical interactions complex products encounter, virtually. It tracks interactive data of product performance, safety and longevity.

It measures the interactions of fluid force performance, thermal effects, structural integrity and electromagnetic radiation. Isolating these forces individually to examine them can deliver inaccurate predictions of product behavior. It is optimum to consider all loads simultaneously during real usage simulation. This challenge is a global concern, as digital transformation addresses changing customer demands and adopting new technologies.

Picanol, a leading weaving machine manufacturer, used simulation to identify durability hot spots for those locations facing stress variations that met or exceeded material-specific endurance limits. Courtesy: Siemens

Simulation tools critical

A critical aspect of designing new industrial equipment, or modifying existing designs, lies in validating performance before the machine reaches the customer. It costs less to fix problems when designing rather than in product development. Adopting digital simulation and analysis tools allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to understand how design choices affect a component, device or machine’s performance and failures. Traditionally, there are manual handoffs between the design and simulation processes. Design level simulation is used to secure a baseline assessment of a project to determine whether it is complete or needs advanced simulation.

Equipment manufacturers are now delivering machines with faster cycle rates and compressed delivery schedules, so teams are motivated to perform advanced simulation upfront. In addition, power errors and increasing interdependence between multiple forces is a more accurate prediction of machine behavior, thus not limited to one area. This dynamic is often the effect of heat generation while the machine is operating and subsequent vibrations that result from heat displacement.

A key part of intelligent performance engineering and multiphysics simulation is the ability to reduce the need for testing and physical prototyping, improving the overall speed for delivering a final design. As higher fidelity modeling integrates into the design organization, it improves collaboration between experts, permitting each to view their domain cohesively. Therefore, a machine simulation is not merely under one environment but is working across all the environments worth consideration. Hence, multiphysics unites the relevant experts attending to end-customer needs and helps them address any unexpected discoveries.

These collaborations extend beyond the actual manufacturing environment, where multiphysics simulation helps OEMs and their broader supplier network connect data and act smarter. Subsequently, as a comprehensive digital twin is built, there is an analysis that proceeds from small components to encompass the entire machine, evaluating explicit characteristics. These components must work within the context and implementation of a specific machine. Therefore, collaboration is critical when working across multiple organizations, integrating the designers, analysts and live data to enable OEMs to adopt better analysis practices. Consequently, machine performance improves while ensuring safety, reliability and cost-effectiveness.

Motion simulation solutions helped Picanol trim down radial bearing forces through further weight reduction of moving and oscillating parts. Courtesy: Siemens

Multiphysics simulation case studies

Connected data fosters collaboration between multiple teams and disciplines. Intelligent performance engineering leverages multiphysics simulation technology to achieve this relationship. Thus, simulation and multi-domain collaboration provide concurrent performance. A case study represents the multiphysics experience, addressing product complexity, performance, environmental conditions and other related factors to meet customer demands and maintain product and machine integrity.

A world leader in textile manufacturing machines, the Picanol Group, with world headquarters in Belgium, produces weaving machines for the fabrics industry. The company develops complex machines that address diverse needs and fabrics, including cotton, silk, jute bags, fiberglass material draperies, upholsteries and car seats. The fluctuating needs of end customers in this market require these machines to be compliant with their performance and speed requests. It is essential to maintain the entire weaving machine’s structural integrity, while minimizing vibration and thermal concentrations.

For example, a roller that imposes a pattern, fabric or paper may be subject to thermal contact and rotational forces. If, during validation, contact stress is considered but thermal load is ignored, disaster may follow. A multiphysics simulation approach analyzes issues individually and feeds the results back as input for future simulation.

By examining thousands of possible solutions with minimum modification to the physical geometry, the best answer will satisfy the thermal needs of the fabric behavior’s life and vibration simultaneously. Fabric behaves differently under changing vibrations and thermal conditions. It is essential to manage the mechanics by considering extreme kinetic forces and high-speed movement during fabric delivery. Multiphysics simulation provides the ability to determine the optimum methods to address these challenges, including speed, thermal and vibration needs, using innovative tools and capabilities.

Picanol enhanced its weaving productivity by more than 15%, significantly reducing noise and vibration while discovering new techniques for creating machine driver mechanisms. Also, the company saw the fatigue life of repair parts increase, eliminating the need to build prototypes that would have been necessary without multiphysics simulation technologies.

This example spotlights the interdependencies and benefits when simulation occurs effectively. It can be an intimidating mission to design, validate and manage modern manufacturing and assembly operations without considering the relationship between structural vibration and thermal. Both simulation and testing are essential to providing a holistic approach.

Simulation and testing

The combination of simulation and testing provides a significant competitive advantage that is most effective in validating a design. You perform the simulation for testing, and the results provide a helpful indication of the appropriate physical sensor placements. After possessing the physical sensor measurements, you apply this data to the digital twin to validate it, correlating the results from reality to a numerical model.

There are several measurable attributes associated with the performance of a machine, including acceleration or noise force. However, other parts can’t be accessed by sensors, like a working part’s temperature. Therefore, the virtual sensor results are obtained from the simulation model and combined with actual measurement results to synchronize any physical measurements with the running simulation.

In this instance, it is measured from the digital twin, providing output from a specific point in the model, representing the evolution of a certain characteristic over time. This function is synchronized with the physical measurement to precisely understand the temperature’s value at a particular point while varying the acceleration.

This holistic approach of simulation and testing provides a competitive advantage for machine builders through a comprehensive top-class suite of validation.

Manufacturers can use multi-physics simulation in a collaborative environment, integrating designers, analysts and live data to create better analysis practices and improve machine performance. Courtesy: Siemens

Industry demand

The machinery industry requires sophisticated machines suitable for new materials and for manufacturing complex products, pushing builders to introduce innovative technologies, including intelligent performance engineering expertise to validate and perform analysis practices in the field.

Intelligent performance engineering and multiphysics simulations allow the customer to explore the real-world physical interactions complex products encounter. This process impacts product performance, safety, longevity, fluid forces, thermal effects, structural integrity and electromagnetic radiation performance. When isolating these forces and examining them separately, the result is not always an accurate prediction of product behavior. Subsequently, it is vital to consider all loads simultaneously during the real usage simulation, which IPE provides.

Multiphysics simulation reduces the need for testing and physical prototyping, improving delivery speed. It allows collaborating with experts to address the end-customer needs and what that means in terms of the product. Industrial machinery is a highly competitive field able to introduce dynamic innovations, using software and digital tools, that exceed customer expectations.

Siemens Digital Industries Software drives the transformation that enables a digital enterprise where engineering, manufacturing and electronics design meet within the Siemens Xcelerator portfolio. Xcelerator is a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of software and services that constitutes an application development platform, which accelerates the transformation to the digital enterprise. It unlocks a powerful industrial network effect — an essential requirement to leverage complexity as a competitive advantage, no matter the industry or company, to transition seamlessly to create tomorrow’s complex, efficient machines.

Author Bio: Rahul Garg is the vice president for industrial machinery & SMB program. He is responsible for defining and delivering key strategic initiatives and solutions and global business development. He and his team are responsible for identifying key initiatives and developing solutions for the industry while working closely with industry leading customers and providing thought leadership on new and emerging issues faced by the machinery industry. Garg’s experience and insight are derived from a 25-year career delivering software-based solutions for product engineering and manufacturing innovation for the global manufacturing industry.