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Digital Technology: Shaped to Perfection

January 14, 2016 Berlin Transportation,  Other News

Digital technologies are revolutionising many industries. Bombardier, too, is taking advantage of virtual reality to launch its vehicles on the market more quickly and to accelerate product development.

No matter whether it’s an industrial plant, an airplane or a train: it is only when all components work together perfectly that the whole system is able to run smoothly. The sooner errors are detected, the better – a fact that also applies to prototypes. Today, the production of expensive advance models can be greatly improved by using virtual test runs. “This way, development and installation steps can be accelerated, optimized or done away with entirely,” explains Helmut Dietz, Head of Digital Manufacturing at Bombardier Transportation. 

Together with his team, Dietz defines, drives and supports the implementation of the Bombardier Digital Mockup for manufacturing directive. He ensures product quality meets customer needs by developing the standardized methodology and tools across the global organization. The collected data flows from the CATIA V5 design system via a product lifecycle management system into a virtual reality solution from the ESI Group that goes by the name of IC.IDO. “In the end, we can view the developed vehicle on high resolution ‘powerwalls’ – and even touch it,” says Dietz. This innovative technology enables colleagues in Development and Production, as well as at management levels, to make considerably more precise and quicker decisions in joint reviews in real time and in different locations around the globe. 

Touch the vehicle virtually

Virtual hands make it possible to interact with the virtual and the real product, in an environment known as “mixed reality”, e.g., to assemble windows in the car body, and to check cabling and tubing, while ergonomic issues can be investigated using virtual human models. Virtual reality fully supports the “Run@Rate” manufacturing approach, which means no learning curve starting from the first vehicle’s series build. 

    Vehicle production can likewise benefit from this approach: working with virtual welding guns, it can be checked whether cut surfaces are easily accessible for employees. “Humans are integrated in real time and can therefore interact,” says Dietz. Looking ahead, he wants to establish virtual reality on a global scale and, as a result, save up to 70 percent on prototypes – a welcome cash benefit for Bombardier and its clients. Five installations of this kind already form part of the Group worldwide.

“In addition, we can visualize the simulation results of heat, cold, air currents and material deformations, as well as space requirements for passengers,”says Dietz. Accordingly, any modifications require only a few bits and bytes to be rearranged, as opposed to million-dollar parts, making both the assembly process and the final product less prone to errors.

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