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Collaboration will allow engineers to build virtual machines

17 August, 2009

Rockwell Automation and Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks are developing a mechatronic system for machine-builders that will allow mechanical, electrical and controls design engineers to work together to analyse, optimise, simulate and select machine designs in a virtual design and production environment before committing to a final machine design.

The system will allow designers to test various component selections and designs virtually, rather than building and testing physical prototypes. They will be able to choose the design that provides the highest machine throughput, or run efficiency analyses to select designs that decrease energy consumption and reduce waste.

“Many issues can arise during the initial design phase of a machine because there is a lack of collaboration and communication between mechanical and controls designers,” points out John Pritchard, product marketing manager for Rockwell’s Kinetix family. “We’re expanding our alliance with DS SolidWorks to develop a mechatronic design environment that will allow engineers to communicate throughout the design process and work together in an integrated design platform.

“The primary objective,” he adds, “is to foster innovation while reducing costs and compressing the time it takes to design, develop and deliver reliable machines.”

The new system, due for release this autumn, will move a step closer toward creating a virtual design and production environment that will help manufacturers to collaborate seamlessly through the full design lifecycle. It will integrate SolidWorks design software with Rockwell’s Motion Analyser software.

Rockwell Automation and DS SolidWorks have been working together since late 2007. Last year, they announced their first joint development – a virtual design and production utility that merges virtual simulation with automation for production.

♦  Dassault has also collaborated with National Instruments on a similar mechatronics tool that helps mechanical and control engineers work together to lower the cost and risk of motion system design. The virtual prototyping tool connects NI’s LabView graphical design software with SolidWorks 3D CAD software, to help design, optimise, validate and visualise the real-world performance of machines and motion systems before incurring the costs of physical prototypes.

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