At this year’s Hannover Messe industrial technology fair, Dassault Systèmes showed how our 3DEXPERIENCE platform is powering WestRock’s global packaging enterprise. For years, WestRock has worked with Dassault Systèmes to develop, prepare and carry out packaging for cans and bottles as well as the associated packaging machinery. This process was actively demonstrated at our trade fair booth in twelve stations.
Packaging as a Service
At the center of the process, the so-called Hippodrome showed the end result of this process. The mechanical system picks up several beverage cans, orients each one individually, and finally places them together on a conveyor belt where the outer packaging is applied. For quite some time now, WestRock has pursued a business model that makes their expertise and infrastructure available as a service. WestRock does not sell its packaging machines for bottles and cans, but instead it makes them available in the context of a service model, and is paid per completed packaging unit.
Therefore, if the machine is not being used, no money is earned, just like no money is earned during set-up times. Scheduled shutdowns are therefore meticulously prepared. Additionally, the company considers the efficient development of the “secondary package” —i.e., outer cardboard packaging, for example for a six-pack of cans— to be as important as the reliability of the machines themselves.
Product Design and Machine Maintenance Powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE
WestRock’s product development environment, based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, was on display in Dassault Systèmes booth. The entire process is connected via data management in the PLM database, which manages all data and its versions and enables comparison with the requirements. Even the configuration function that enables extremely fast construction of reliable systems is based on the data in this database.
The process chain—as it was presented at the trade fair—starts with the development of the outer packaging. The ideas of the client and packaging designer are turned into a simulated cardboard package, and drop impact and stacking test simulations are carried out at this point. A virtual reality headset offers realistic views of the products journey through a virtual production facility..
The efficient design of the packaging machine systems was also demonstrated. The machine system is assembled from existing, proven components, with the help of a configurator. Only the portion of the system that comes directly in contact with the packaging products is custom built by WestRock. An example of where machine-meets-packaging is a custom-designed gripper, which is produced with the help of additive production methods. Thanks to the topology optimization offered by additive manufacturing, the gripper is much lighter than its conventionally manufactured counterpart, allowing for higher cycle rates due to the reduction of moving masses.
No machine is purely mechanical these days. Electrical and pneumatic components are therefore always modeled in the integrated 3DEXPERIENCE development environment in connection with the mechanics. Circuit diagrams and 3D geometries belong together and are treated as such. In doing so, the actual control—by Bosch Rexroth in this case—can be integrated into the virtual machine and the packaging machine process can be simulated. Hardware-in-the-loop combines real processes with the digital model.
This enables a simulation of the system in terms of Systems Engineering, and provides answers to questions such as: “How quickly does the required pressure take to build up in a cylinder when the corresponding valve is opened?” or: “How quickly the vacuum gripper act without losing the can?” The performance of the system can therefore already be optimized in the virtual model up to the limits of physics. The higher the output of the system, the higher WestRock’s revenue.
Finally, service and changeover procedures can be simulated, tested and trained in the virtual model. Since constant availability is an extreme priority, the systems are also constantly updated and optimized in the utilization phase. It is therefore important to determine whether the stored system state matches that of actual use. The view of the actual machine with augmented reality glasses helps find undocumented changes, and can be used to train employees, who can see exactly how a new piece of equipment needs to be moved to immediately land to the right place.
The Dassault Systèmes presentation at the Hannover Fair showed the latest state of technology as well as fascinating views of the not so distant future. We hope you were able to gather a lot of useful information from your visit to the Hanover Fair and from our stand in particular.
Thank you for your visit, and we’ll see you next year!