Mechatronic software design package in development

Paul Boughton
Rockwell Automation and Dassault Systèmes Solidworks are announcing that they are to broaden working relationship by jointly developing a mechatronic software design package for machine builders to help 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.

Machine builders will benefit from the software through increased machine value, improved machine sustainability, and greater innovation agility. The software will allow designers to test various component selections and designs virtually, rather than having to build and test multiple physical prototypes. As a result, they can select the design that provides the highest machine throughput.

Designers also can focus on developing sustainable machines because they will be able to run efficiency analyses and select designs that decrease energy consumption and reduce waste. Similarly, they will have the ability to try new and creative options without incurring costs for building physical prototypes. This allows the engineers to select the optimal mix of cost savings and energy efficiency.

John Pritchard, product marketing manager for Kinetix at Rockwell Automation, comments: "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. We are 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 is to foster innovation while reducing costs and compressing the time it takes to design, develop and deliver reliable machines."

Craig Therrien, product manager at DS Solidworks, adds: "Our two companies have a shared vision of the benefits manufacturers could achieve when leveraging solutions that combine 3D technology with automation control software. This mechatronic solution is a natural next step in our journey together. We are looking forward to the opportunity to help designers use our complementary technologies to improve the work they are doing."

Scheduled for release this autumn, the software moves Rockwell Automation one step closer towards creating a virtual design and production environment that helps manufacturers collaborate seamlessly through the full design life cycle. The new software will link mechanical design with controls design by integrating Solidworks design software from DS Solidworks with Rockwell Automation Motion Analyser software. As a result, machine builders can expect shorter lead times and reduced risk by predicting the likely outcome of design changes before committing to a physical prototype.

Sal Spada, research director at ARC Advisory Group, states: "This latest development in the relationship between Rockwell Automation and DS Solidworks has the potential to revolutionise machine design. Machine builders that are quick to adopt mechatronic system design will have a distinct competitive advantage. They will be able to offer end users sustainable and optimized machines in a fraction of the time."

The partnership between Rockwell Automation and DS Solidworks began in late 2007. In late 2008, the companies announced the availability of their first joint development – a virtual design and production utility that merges virtual simulation and automation for production.

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