Many large industrial OEM’s and ODM’s are moving from an engineering-to-order approach to a configure-to-order model. Instead of designing and creating all machines from scratch with every incoming order, these companies are assembling a catalogue full of standardized and extensively tested modules and building blocks. That way, they can pick and choose from their own library of readily available options, and deliver their solutions much faster to their customers. Moreover, they can reuse much of their design and engineering efforts, making their whole business process run smoother, safer and more efficient.
With Prespective Industrial Assets, we offer sales engineers a tool that perfectly facilitates this trend. They can easily drag and drop predefined building blocks to a virtual factory floor, quickly giving visual insight into the complete production setup. Of course, they could use CAD models to show customers what to expect, but those images are static and cover only one machine or one module, not the whole manufacturing site. With our real-time 3D representation, sales engineers can create a moving, almost living, center piece to discuss the details of the specific configuration.
Clear communication in this first phase is pivotal in satisfying customer requirements. With the virtual twin in Industrial Assets, you can show them that you speak their language, give them options on what the system should look like and even generate a bill of materials, estimating what the end result will cost them.
Tweak on the spot
Every sales process starts with several preliminary meetings, when your sales representatives try to build a relationship with the customer and entice him to grant you the contract. Our tool offers them the opportunity to show not one, but a full portfolio of clips from solutions your company has realized in the past. All virtual, moving factory lines – white-labelled if necessary – that demonstrate your capabilities to the max.
The second goal of these meetings is for your sales persons to get a feeling of what solution the customer is actually looking for. Based on the information they gather, a sales engineer can prepare an initial factory outline in Industrial Assets. Almost like in the famous Rollercoaster Tycoon game, he will choose what machine comes where, how to organize the flow across the floor, and where to add processing stations, robot arms, belts and the like. The correct kinematics of the system can wait till later, but he can quickly set up the flow of a production line. For example a food production line that processes whole chickens to drumsticks, chicken breasts and nuggets.
These kind of simulations were hugely time-consuming in the past, but with our open platform, based on the World’s leading real-time 3D game engine Unity, a sales engineer has the tool in hand to change his initial design on the spot, even during a sales meeting at the customer. When hearing more of the requirements and the needs, he can immediately update the layout, move machines and belts around to accommodate the customer’s vision.
Back at the office or at his hotel room between two meetings, he can fill in all the details of the setup and fix the flow. It won’t take weeks like in the old days, but mere hours, depending on the size of the site, to get to a running 3D model that contains much more information than a set of static 2D drawings and text. It is even possible to present several scenario’s, giving your customer options. Step by step, the two of you will bring the setup to life and iterate to the optimal end solution.
In the final phase, a sales engineer will dot the i’s and cross the t’s in his design. And with this virtual twin of the factory in hand, he can now prove that the planned layout will indeed deliver the KPI’s that the customer has set.
One major prerequisite is that users of the Industrial Assets suite can compile their own library of components, modules and machines. Standard building blocks such as robot arms from the well-known vendors are easy; competing solutions can offer that as well. We distinguish ourselves in the feature that you can create and add your own specialized machines into the library. You can even do this parametrically, in the sense that you as a sales engineer don’t need to fill in all the details of a brand new machine, but you can use it as a black box in your virtual setup and let the engineering department figure out what the system should actually look like.
With that last remark, you might just realize that creating a virtual twin isn’t only beneficial for sales reps and sales engineers. And you are absolutely right. The digital setup is an ideal starting point for engineers. They can see straight away what is covered by readily available components and where the focus of their design work will be. Our approach offers you a clear and insightful way to check the flow, fit the machinery on the factory floor, ensure the throughput, add some extra systems for redundancy, and much more.
An additional benefit from Prespective Industrial Assets is that it is an open platform which means you can dig deep into the software and change it according to your likings. For instance, you can create your own user interface, giving the tool your look & feel and branding. And since it’s open, you can easily share your designs with your customer who can explore them in a free viewer. For the early adopters, it is even possible to livestream the design to a HoloLens 2 and see how the factory will look in virtual reality.
Author: Guido van Gageldonk