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Vapor Canada Inc. derails outdated CAD System.
Engineers unleash Solid Edge, Working Model®, and DesignSpace
to design and simulate complex train door system.
Technology facilitates threefold reduction in design time.
For decades, people who live, work, and travel in cities the size
of New York, Chicago, London, and Tokyo have used efficient and elaborate
train systems to navigate throughout the metropolitan areas.
In 1996, nearly two billion people in London alone used "The Underground"
as their primary means of transportation. To accommodate the growing
train commuter populations, many cities are adding new tracks and
building new stations, as well as adding new lines and new cars to existing
For train manufacturers, this phenomenon means not only producing
more train cars, but also adding increased functionality demanded
by its customers and subsequently, passengers. Today, trains must be more
efficient, quieter, and more comfortable. And, increased
automation continues to prevail in features such as door and safety systems.
Vapor Canada, Inc., a division of Westinghouse Air Brake Co. (WABCO),
develops and manufactures rail and mass transit equipment such as heating,
control, and door systems found in subway trains and busses.
Intense global competition drives Vapor's Door Systems Engineering
Group to deliver the most economical, reliable, and safest products
in the shortest time possible. From an engineering perspective, this
has not been an easy task because most customers require physical prototypes
four to six months prior to awarding contracts to do the actual work.
Delivering prototypes that meet customer specifications and staying within
costs in a short time frame is very difficult even when development
conditions are ideal. In addition, more engineering
responsibilities are often dictated due to stringent governmental
Until recently, Vapor engineers in the Door Systems Engineering
Group were limited in their abilities to react to customer demands
because they were doing all design work by hand.
The extent of their computer-aided tools was a 2D CAD system
for generating production drawings only.
According to Sean Taffert, Vapor mechanical engineer, "All
the design work was based on using engineering data from previous
projects and manual engineering methods. These limitations affected
our three to six month design cycles. In addition, we are required
to conduct a barrage of testing, maintenance, and safety checks prior
to sending models to customers. That type of engineering
environment doesn't allow opportunities for evaluating multiple
design iterations to find the optimum model, or time for rework, if necessary.
"Given our situation, we recommended implementing three
integrated PC-based software products, Intergraph's Solid Edge,
a 3D solids modeling product, Working Model® from Working Model,
Inc., and DesignSpace supplied by DesignSpace to allow us to make early design
decisions. These easy to use design, motion simulation, and analysis
tools ideally suit our needs. Once we were up and running, we never
looked back," adds Taffert.
From a mechanical engineering standpoint, automated train doors
are complex systems that are difficult to engineer. Each door consists
of hundreds of parts. Taffert adds, "During train
operation, these components move simultaneously inside the door
with several parts interacting, as well as occupying the same spaces at
different times. It's very difficult to mathematically
analyze dynamics-forces to connecting rods and load stresses on bolts-as
well as predict the maximum and minimum simulation time frames. Before we
implemented Solid Edge, Working Model, and DesignSpace we made
experienced predictions about how the parts would look and perform;
however, we weren't 100 percent sure we were correct."
For us, the advantage of doing early virtual design, simulation,
and prototype testing allows us to visualize whether our designs will
perform accurately and meet specifications," Taffert says.
to download the VRML file of this train door system.
Please read the instructions on VRML before..
The actual decision to implement Solid Edge, Working Model, and DesignSpace
occurred when Taffert and his team faced a huge job of redesigning 12,000
train doors for a very large customer. They justified the need to
implement new, state-of-the-art technology in order to solve design issues.
In just four months, the system paid for itself by reducing some of the
costly retrofit expenses.
In addition, the Windows-based products are easy to learn and use.
"We couldn't afford to spend a lot of time on the learning curve,"
says Taffert. "We saved the company design time and
increased productivity using the new software. Plus, the cost effectiveness
of the new system really pays off. After evaluating a lot of competitive
products, we are confident that these affordable products provide the same,
maybe more, functionality than the traditional UNIX offerings.
That's a big savings in hardware, software, and training."
For the train door project, Taffert and his colleagues generated
solid models in Solid Edge and analyzed the designs using DesignSpace.
When the team was confident that the designs met customer specifications,
the final models were downloaded into Working Model
to simulate the dynamics of the door system.
The first time we applied Working Model on the dynamic forces
such as magnitude and direction (physics issues that traditionally
are very difficult to evaluate, let alone simulate)," adds
Taffert, "we were very impressed by how real the system looked.
The new design approach cannot compare with what we were doing in the past.
The technology is a communications tool as much as an engineering tool.
The visualizations enable our engineering team,
management, and customers to see how products will perform in the
real world. Instead of cranking out a costly, cumbersome prototype, we can
show our customers a virtual product and how it will
actually operate. If changes are required, we simply modify the CAD model,
do a quick analysis using DesignSpace, and transfer it back to Working Model
to simulate the new design."
The new technology allows Vapor engineers to eliminate other problems
such as misconceptions about design integrity and product performance.
"Our confidence level is much higher than before we implemented
the technology," adds Taffert.
In just the first few months that the new system has been in place,
Taffert and his team have reduced the design cycle from months to weeks.
They are also using the technology to quantify measuring, testing
and analysis procedures. Taffert reports, "The
software system reaffirmed the design team's faith in our measurements."
Taffert notes, "In the future, we would like to implement Working Model
to improve our marketing efforts. Instead of building expensive physical
prototypes to show customers, we can use the technology to provide electronic
files of proposed models. We plan to offer animated files on our Web
page for quick and easy engineering data accessibility.
This will help eliminate misconceptions and design rework, and best of
all, customers will see exactly what they ordered."