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Embrace 3D to compete in the digital manufacturing era

Published: 28 April 2017 - Sarah Mead

Digital is our world’s future and that’s where every possible industry vertical is heading. The increasing adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is challenging conventional processes and products, and is bringing an altogether different experience for the people at buying end. Wearables, drones and connected cars are just the beginning as IoT promises to influence various kinds of environments – home, office, logistics and even our factories for that matter.

In fact, by 2025, the impact of IoT is set to touch by 3 trillion alone in the manufacturing sector, at least that’s what a survey from McKinsey suggests. The growing trend means that industrial equipment manufacturers need to adopt a new approach towards developing the products that are aligned to the IoT strategies that a plant owner must be expecting.

Building a connected industrial equipment however isn’t as easy at seems. Apart from the mechanical design aspects, engineers would also require to think from the electronics and software perspective to create a connected environment.

The electronics and software parts are almost unfamiliar for the traditional equipment manufacturers and require collaborating with people outside the organization to successfully develop a connected product. But there’s much more than just the need to collaborate, and that is to bring a major change within the design processes itself. The very basic need for industrial equipment manufacturers to deliver IoT ready products to their customers is to adopt 3D CAD across the entire value chain.

Why Adopt 3D CAD?

Embracing 3D is important to get more clarity on how the design will look and function over the traditional 2D drafts. With 3D models of industrial equipment, it is easier to make changes in the design and accommodate the provision of additional embedded systems and control mechanisms. Modern 3D CAD tools like SOLIDWORKS offer the connectivity between ECAD and MCAD, so that designing connected products becomes easier. Besides, there is also SOLIDWORKS PCB that provides engineers an opportunity to develop embedded electronic design for mechanical products.

3D CAD further opens up an opportunity to explore design alternatives using simulation tools. It is possible to test the design considering number of factors such antenna performance for signal transmission, interference or tuning of antenna design along with measuring the wireless charging performance and safety compliance. Besides, simulation tools like ANSYS provide an ability to collect the data captured through IoT and use it to predict the performance and establish predictive maintenance to reduce downtime, risk, time to market and warranty issues. The underlying information within 3D models as compared to traditional 2D drawings as such is essential and needed for successful implementation of IoT.

Final Thoughts

Globally, factories are on their way to digital maturity and eager to adopt IoT in order to automate processes, capitalize on big data and drive predictive maintenance to ultimately improve the factory performance. It is important then as a manufacturer of supplier of industrial equipment to accommodate to this change as early as possible and avoid being left out from the competition. For that to happen however, the need is to replace the traditional 2D processes with 3D and establish a tight collaboration between the factory owners for successful design of connected equipment to suit the IoT environment.

About Author: Jaydeep Chauhan is a mechanical engineer working at Hi-Tech Engineering Services for the past 1 year. He caters critical engineering challenges with ease and performs exhaustive procedures to develop robust, well-engineered and high performance designs. He can always be found in the lab discussing, brainstorming and tweaking designs.

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