Looking for new technologies to complement the company’s forward-looking plans for enhanced product engineering, TCE did not have to look far for a natural partnership with two leading names in the virtual prototyping arena – PTC, specifically with DIVISION MockUp2000i2 and PTC’s strategic partner Virtalis.
Ian Davies, TCE’s Engineering Manager, said: “Our physical prototypes were costing us up to £50,000 each, with each alteration leading to lengthy redesigns. Costly design mistakes simply don’t happen virtually. They are spotted and rectified, speedily and without compromise. This is engineering design at its purest, enabling us to reduce both time-to-market and unit cost.”
THE VIRTALIS SOLUTION
The TCE team looked to Virtalis, which has expertise in CAD to VR conversion. Virtalis is also one of the world’s most experienced users of PTC’s real-time 3D visualisation products.
In a mere three months, Virtalis’s 3D modelling team, working closely with TCE engineers, produced a detailed visualisation of the driver’s workstation. Barry Noble, TCE’s CAD System Administrator explained: “It was important to us that not only should the visualisation be totally accurate in terms of sightlines, but that there should be real-time interaction and control of the digger or backhoe. The operator wears a VR headset and can not only look round the virtual cabin, but also use the cabin joysticks to realistically control the digger.”
It was immediately obvious in the virtual cab that the rear view mirrors had to be repositioned to ensure a good view to the rear of the machine. The mounting brackets were redesigned virtually and checked out digitally before the new design was sent to the prototype workshop.
Virtalis used data from the PTC MockUp virtual digger system to create the requisite kinematics. By actuating the cabin joysticks, their movement feels utterly realistic to the driver. “The integration of these immersive VR technologies with an actual Terex cab seat and identical joy stick controls to those used in the new model has resulted in a virtual driving experience that has stunned all those who have experienced it”, commented Barry.
Ian Davies concluded: “This exercise has been a tremendous success for both our engineers and our customers. We have saved an inordinate amount of time and money by missing out the prototype stage. Potential new ISO standards, such as those for Operator Visibility will mean that virtual mock-ups will have a life beyond the design stage.