Burth says: “There are lots of new companies being founded to address environmental issues and we expect the number of companies in the programme to continue growing. If you look at where venture capital money goes, at least 25% goes into clean tech. It’s the single biggest category and that investment is increasing every year.”
PTC, which publishes ProEngineer software, has taken a slightly different route by addressing the increasing need for engineers to meet the growing list of environmental regulations. It acquired software company Synapsis in December 2008. Its analysis software tracks product data and compliance throughout the supply chain. The software has subsequently been integrated into the PTC suite of products under the Insight brand.
Insight Environmental Compliance tracks the performance of products, parts, materials and suppliers. It integrates with existing supply chain and product development systems, or functions as a standalone system. Customers include Visteon, Cisco Systems, GE, Sony Ericsson and Motorola.
From RoHS (an EU directive on hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment) to Reach (EU regulations on chemicals), a multinational telecommunications company such as Motorola has dozens of different environmental rules to consider in many countries. Motorola uses Insight to reduce the cost of compliance, fulfil customer and regulator audits, and lower the risk of a compliance failure that might hit profits. By providing engineers with visibility of environmental metrics early in product development, Insight has helped Motorola earn a reputation as a green product leader. Gerald Sprague, principal software engineer and technical lead for Motorola’s environmental compliance system, says: “Since detailed substance data is what’s required for these regulations, we have all the information we need. We just put together specific reports.”
But keeping track of materials and inventory can be utilised further than environmental compliance. The use of product lifecycle management (PLM) software can help a company reduce waste across its business – a clear environmental gain. It can also significantly reduce the time it takes for a new product to get to the marketplace. Electric car manufacturer Tesla, for example, announced last month that it was using Dassault Systèmes’ V6 product lifecycle management software to help develop its Model S car.
“The platform provides the ability to allow close collaboration across divisions, align expertise from all domains and share data effectively,” says Paul Lomangino of Tesla Motors.
“We are now able to optimise the design and development process, facilitating concurrent development and validation across vehicle systems.”
Tesla is beginning its upgrade to V6 with the Enovia V6 collaboration. Improvements and predefined templates in the latest Enovia release have enabled a successful pilot in just over a month, paving the way for production. Phase two will launch its Delmia digital manufacturing system later this year.
Etienne Droit, executive vice-president Dassault Systèmes, says: “Tesla’s recognition of V6’s value confirms for us the automotive industry’s movement to a common, enterprise-wide PLM platform that brings long-term efficiencies.
“Industry-changing innovation is not done in a vacuum and PLM Online for All brings together the collaborators in an enterprise, from the design engineers to the sourcing managers to manufacturing engineers.”
Ramboll offshore wind division
Ramboll’s offshore wind division has installed almost 60% of the foundations for wind turbines around the world. Last year it installed foundations for 600MW of wind power capacity. Foundations for wind turbines can either be monopiles made of concrete or a jacket structure like that used in oil rigs. The most commonly used foundation is the monopile, which is hammered into the ground. Each foundation design is slightly different because each location has different types of material in the seabed and varying strengths of wind and current.
The company has 90 designers working on foundations and supplies to the energy utilities in partnership with turbine manufacturers such as Siemens, Vestas and Repower. It started using SolidWorks software in 2008, after using a 3D CAD software package called Techno Structures for several years. Phillipe Angelo, project engineer for Ramboll’s offshore wind division, says designers found the old software slow and unpredictable, with large files and long processing time. “Most of the structures we construct are circular and we were missing parts from models,” he says. “To update a drawing would take a full day. Sometimes it would take half an hour just to open a file.”
Angelo says designers have found the new modelling interface and drawing easy along with the rendering functions. The first model took six months to produce; they now take up to six weeks. “It has given us the flexibility to communicate with the customer quicker and implement changes to designs faster,” he says. The division, which has offices in three countries, has also benefited from the ability to share data in real time across different sites using SolidWorks’ PDM Vault software.
“The transition piece is the most complex part of the foundation,” says Angelo. “It has the most steelwork and has to be designed to deal with the fatigues and stresses of the current and wind.”
The SolidWorks tools Ramboll has found most useful include parametrisation, which it uses for the most complex part of the transition piece – the service platform. The basic design of the service platform remains the same in each wind turbine, but its size is dependent on the size of the main tower. It is therefore modified using the parametrisation feature. Designers also use the centre of gravity calculation tool, applicable because offshore wind turbines sway in the wind. The feature has proved useful when doing risk assessments with the client, says Angelo.
The use of SolidWorks has not been without its problems though. Designers have had difficulty modelling complex welds and the turbines’ foundations use lots of bolted connections, which make the model very “heavy” in terms of data. Ramboll is trying to cut down on the amount of bolts it uses.