2020-05-13

How virtual reality accelerates our product development

KION Group is now using IC.IDO virtual reality software in its product development. It allows the Group to bring industrial truck prototypes to market faster than ever. In a recent interview, Jean-Pierre Alègre, the head of Product Research at Fenwick-Linde MH, a KION Group subsidiary, describes the software’s benefits for developers and for other company divisions.

What was the reason for integrating VR into the development of trucks?

Our customers’ desire to reduce the "time to market" was the primary reason behind bringing virtual reality (VR) to our development process. The tool is intended to quickly give the forklift truck prototypes an enhanced maturity. The VR tool can also be utilized for early communication among the various departments as well as for quick product visualization.

How exactly does KION use the VR solution, IC.IDO, in its product development process?

We are currently using it in France at our Châtellerault facility. It is very useful in the early phase of each project to assess the prototype in regular review sessions. It gathers experts from the respective Group areas to obtain the relevant feedback for a truck’s construction and design as early as possible. We have also launched the first development projects using VR at our Hamburg and Aschaffenburg production sites.

Who specifically uses the VR tool?

Employees who create a vehicle’s 3D model from the development department are using it. The Industrial Engineering team also uses VR to plan production lines and assembly at an early stage. Throw in the Services area to the mix where field work and component maintenance can be evaluated in advance. Finally, Marketing and Sales can also use it to gain a better understanding of the product’s technical aspects.

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Jean-Pierre Alègre,

Head of Product Research, Fenwick-Linde MH

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What are the benefits in terms of truck development? What is faster, easier and cheaper now?

The tool’s greatest benefit is the early visualization of the end product. It can be used as a communication tool by every department. Before a prototype is even launched, a virtual truck can now be evaluated to make improvements. It improves the maturity of it and it saves time since no extensive re-working is needed. In addition, numerous options and variations can be easily tested using the tool.

What has been the response from employees?

The acceptance has been very high among all users because the benefits are so obvious and it is highly appreciated by the interdisciplinary exchange.

Where do you get the data for the virtual models? Did you have to do any customizations to the CAD data?

We can export the data from the CAD model without too much effort.

Does the software require any special training?

Before you begin using the tool, you must participate in a 2-day training. After that, individual users can use the software without any difficulty.

How easy is it to implement?

The most effort required is mainly in training the employees as well as the maturity of the 3D model from a project’s start.

Is KION planning to use VR in other areas?

The goal is to contribute to even better cooperation among the R&D, quality, industrial engineering and service teams by using the software. In the longer term, we can envisage introducing the VR tool to every major development site in Europe, China and the US, allowing joint reviews to be carried out on a model at various locations and across borders.

Based on virtual prototyping technologies, the ESI Group’s software solution, IC.IDO, supports product development. Using VR helps reduce time-to-market and overall costs. With high-end visualization and real-time simulation, the software simulates realistic product behavior even before a prototype is physically realized.

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