Thomas Riedel has spent over ten years working on the three-dimensional display and planning of lines and machines at KHS. “As far back as in 2009 we not only presented a realistic, three-dimensional image of a line on our first stereoscopic, 3D Powerwall at the drinktec trade show but also visualized in the tiniest detail how the machines would fit into the existing environment on site using 3D laser scans.” Riedel will tell us later how the scan process works in detail.
All layouts for orders are displayed in 3D – as are select customer offers from a certain point in the planning process. In this context it is essential – especially in view of the increasing level of standardization – that the 3D layout programs and data are intelligently linked to the offer software and offer generator.
“KHS takes the customer through the progress in development in a design review on what are known as Powerwalls,” explains Riedel. “Here, the optimum line sequence and setup of the machines are planned. For example, we can jointly recognize in advance any errors in height or possible collisions with third-party machinery which could occur when bringing the line into a production shop.”
In mobile use
In the past 3D viewing was only available at the German production sites in Dortmund, Bad Kreuznach, and Worms and at the international factories in Mexico, Brazil, and India. Thanks to the relatively inexpensive availability of 3D, even for end users, portable, mobile VR (virtual reality) systems are now also used, for which only a notebook and a projector or 3D glasses are needed. The customer therefore no longer has to visit one of the KHS plants for the review.
The design engineering and planning data required for this visualization both on the Powerwalls and simple 3D CAD viewers is of course also used by KHS in house – for design engineering, factory assembly, and when installing the system at the customer’s location, and for training and service. “In this way our VR systems communicate with one another and our international design teams profit from the technology in the intercompany development of KHS machines.”
3D planning may seem relatively simple to the uninitiated with its clear view of the details and easy comprehensibility in planning thanks to a constantly growing degree of automation. In reality, however, the 3D laser scanning processes used to record the customer’s environment and prepare and manage planning data are extremely complex.
*Editor’s note: PDM system = Product Data Management system
Vast amounts of data
3D laser scanning is used to gain a complete, seamless image of the customer’s environment. Where safety regulations for system operating personnel are adhered to, this is perfectly safe. Production doesn’t even have to be interrupted. Riedel explains. “So that we can also log what are known as the shadow areas, which may be hidden by a platform or suchlike, depending on the size of the system and complexity of the installation around 20 to 200 scan positions have to be recorded.” This generates a vast amount of data. “The laser scanner turns on its vertical and horizontal axes and in doing so registers all visible objects in a bottling shop thereby generating about 20 million dots per scan. After evaluation and preparation as planning data, 300 GB of data is easily amassed for each project. This must be sensibly archived, redundantly stored, and made available for the planning process. This was initially a big challenge for the IT Department but we now have everything well under control.”
What’s more important is managing and providing 3D planning models of the machines and conveying systems for 3D line design. “We have to make sure that we have the right 3D planning model on hand for every single 3D design model in the entire KHS machine program,” says Riedel. The data volume of this model is drastically reduced and represents the machine in every possible formation for all variants and ordering options including the development history.
“We’re especially proud of the design methods we’ve developed ourselves which ensure that the design model is semiautomatically connected up to the planning model through the PDM system*”, states Riedel. “This makes design changes visible in the planning model which are then automatically transferred to 3D planning and updated by clicking the mouse. The system planner is thus directly linked to the designer through the PDM system – and planning errors are ruled out.”
Since the planning phase is considerably shortened, both customers and KHS benefit from holistic planning, combined with an early review. Unanswered questions about an order can be clarified more quickly than without 3D planning and on-site installation is much faster and more efficient. Riedel points out another advantage. “We’re currently creating a number of training scenarios where VR simulation helps to provide simple access to and clearly visualize complex topics.”
“The system planner is linked to the designer – and planning errors are ruled out.”