Case study

Testing functionality more quickly and efficiently with virtual reality


The use of Virtalis virtual reality solutions is enabling construction companies such as Zoomlion, in China, to save on production costs, making complex CAD data easy to visualise.

The background

Zoomlion is a leading international construction machinery manufacturer that has been in operation since 1992. Their products are used across the construction, machinery, agricultural, heavy trucks, environmental business and financial services industries. The first heavy equipment company with listings on China’s A and H share markets, Zoomlion appears on the China and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

The Zoomlion motto is a powerful one: ‘Vision Creates Future’. A pioneering company, that use the latest technology to create game-changing products.

The problem

In 2013, Zoomlion established a base in Yorkville, Wisconsin for their R&D team, responsible for designing products for the North American market. Their 215GLC Excavator was the first to be designed. However, before Zoomlion could promote their new equipment to the US market, they needed to meet several lighting and visualisation regulations set by the 'International Organization for Standardization' (ISO). This meant reviewing CAD models from every angle of the operator’s field of view, to ensure that the equipment complies with regulations, reducing risk and improving safety for equipment operators.

But this was not an easy task. CAD models are large and made up of many different parts. Without immersive technology, analysing complex data would be difficult to manage. Getting this data correct is essential for if any design flaws slipped through into production, these could cost millions of dollars in lost sales and reputation damage. They would also cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Manufacturers, designers and maintenance teams would need to get involved with changing CAD models. Time costs money and identifying these flaws early means the excavator can be manufactured cost-effectively.

While Zoomlion’s China team could build, test, rebuild and retest excavators at a low cost, much faster than most markets, it’s not possible to do this cost-effectively in North America. Zoomlion would need specialist technology to handle the complexity of the models in detail.

The solution

Enter Virtalis. We offered Zoomlion’s Erik Goslawski, Engineering Manager, and Bennet Hoffman, Engineer, a crash course in Visionary Render, our virtual reality software. They used this to analyse their CAD models in detail. Complex data for the many different parts of the models became visual.  Zoomlion could literally walk through and interact with the data, making it appear life-like. 

They could now identify crucial changes required in order to meet the lighting and visualisation regulations. They could test the excavator's functionality at this stage too, requiring less need for building and testing on physical prototypes. This cut production costs. Manufacturers, designers and maintenance teams were sharing their expertise at the design stage, reducing risk and speeding up product development.

The hardware used was as follows:

  • Visionary Render with Development, Review and CAD Importer licenses (Global Floating)
  • HTC VIVE HMD headset with wireless adaptor 

The result

Using Visionary Render from Virtalis, Zoomlion analysed and optimised complex CAD models of their new excavators in a 3D immersive environment. This enabled engineers to test their excavator’s functionality faster and more efficiently, identifying and fixing issues in the design process before they developed into costly production errors.

Using Visionary Render to analyse CAD models saves money. Errors found during production can cost engineers over $150 an hour to fix. Identifying and correcting these errors at the design stage eliminates this expense and saves valuable time. Using Visionary Render has enabled more thorough testing in the design stage. There is now less need to test built prototype excavators thus saving huge amounts of money.

“The support and knowledge we got from Virtalis on Visionary Render have been great. We can confidently call ourselves super-users in this technology. We’ve learned a lot about how to use this for other projects.”
Bennet Hoffman, Mechanical Engineer - Zoomlion North America
“The fact that we’re confident in using this to identify mistakes in the design stage, and not production, is going to be a huge life-saver for us. Production errors are expensive. So we’re looking forward to using it more during the design and concept phases.”
Erik Goslawski, Engineering Manager - Zoomlion North America 

The future

This experience has left Zoomlion committed to the use of Visionary Render. Engineers now want to use it in the design stages of future projects, to prevent expensive flaws damaging production. Virtual demos of machinery will be used to impress customers. They also wish to use Visionary Render when collaborating with their colleagues in China. Zoomlion is confident it will help them to overcome language barriers at the design stage.

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