- The Project
- Project Results
- Project Partners
- Project Supporters
- Project Networks
- Press and Publications
European manufacturers must cope with the effects of rising competition and globalized markets. As a consequence, manufacturing enterprises must drastically shorten the innovation lifecycles and time-to-market, and at the same time lower the costs for product development and production. In this context, virtual prototyping and simulation tools are used to accelerate the time-to-market and time-to-production significantly.
Today, already a wide range of specific tools for simulation exists as part of the Digital Factory. Typically, the data is represented either from the viewpoint of product design or from the viewpoint of manufacturing which restrains its interoperable use.
Integrating existing data both from engineering and from manufacturing for creating interactive and immersive simulation environments, is a new and innovative approach to simulate, plan and train manufacturing and service processes before the product or the production line even exists. In comparison to physical testing, virtual training platforms will considerably speed up the ramp-up times and increase productivity. However, in order to reduce the number expensive and laborious physical prototypes, virtual simulation techniques have further to be improved: automatic data processing and human-interaction aspects must be integrated. In this way, the VISTRA platform addresses the Simultaneous Engineering Challenge, to bridge the data gap between product design and manufacturing engineering (innovation) and production (productivity).
Figure: The VISTRA Platform closes the gap between product design and manufacturing
Virtual assembly training will help to reduce significantly the time, costs and efforts for testing on physical prototypes. Combining virtual process and product data, flexible part information and advanced interaction concepts will result in an efficient, easy to use and authentic worker training session. Different car configuration could be virtually trained and get started at each point in the assembly process. Using flexible parts techniques, the training gets a more realistic and accurate behaviour. Within an intuitive user-interface, it is possible for the worker to fully centre on the content of the training. In different levels of difficulty, the trainee will learn the assembly sequence step by step. When the training starts, the parts and tools are arranged outside the car. The training user has to take them step by step and place them at an approximated position in the car following the assembly sequence. Simulating flexible parts, it is possible for the trainee to bend parts realistically while fixing others. Including flexible parts into the simulation adds a new level of realism and is currently a big challenge for real-time simulation (addressed by VISTRA). Each training step could be repeated as many times as the user needs to learn it without any delay. Multiple user training sessions could be conducted at the same time to reduce the needed time frame of training. Moreover, in automotive industry, a high personnel turnover is very common. Generally, operators change often the assembly station within the production line. Therefore, profound knowledge about all processes at multiple assembly stations, which can be taught without stop of production at the virtual simulator, is demanded.
Simulation tools for assembly processes require interactive user-involvement in order to be more realistic and flexible. For example, the designer, planner or operator can virtually perform an assembly and test if the chosen workflow or assembly path is optimal. The VISTRA platform can be used for continuous improvement of the ability to assemble and manufacture highly complex configurable goods. Furthermore, executing time can be measured and analysed to optimize cooperative work (line-balancing). Captured workflow data can be used to document production processes and to enable an interactive knowledge transfer which goes beyond traditional documentation methods. Knowledge can be shared across stakeholders and the product lifecycle (e.g. production planning, service departments, repair shops).