Intelligent product design methods

It occurs only rarely that complex design processes lead to a completely correct result from the first time. This research allows to validate virtual designs without the need to build prototypes in every stage of the design process. In this way, teams can effectively work in parallel and innovation and creation processes can be enhanced.



Machines and vehicles used to be mainly mechanical appliances. Today, much more complex systems combining several physical domains are involved. This explains why designers need assistance from computers to check the performance requirements of the systems they designed and to find optimum values for the design parameters. However, current computer models are not equipped to understand the complexity of all multi-physical components. This leads to suboptimal designs, unreliable controllers and late detections of defects and limitations. This project ran from June 2014 to November 2016 and created a methodology for the development of multi-physical models. So as to be able to design better machines faster (and thus cheaper), we also developed tools to use these models. Another purpose of the project was using the multi-physical models for designing smart sensor systems that make use of indirect estimates to assess non-measured variables in complex mechatronic systems.



In the conceptual design phase of a mechatronic system design process, one makes little use of computer support but rather relies on the knowledge and creativity of experts to generate and evaluate new concepts. Still, computer support could accelerate the design phase and increase its effectiveness. This project was started in September 2014 and will run up to August 2017 and has developed a methodology and supporting tools for the effective application of computing power in the conceptual phase of the system design through the automatic generation and evaluation of concepts. This results in better and more innovative products, lower design costs and therefore higher margins.

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The increasing complexity of modern mechatronic systems forces designers more often than not to use models in order to understand and control all aspects of the design. This project runs from 2014 up to the end of 2017 and aims to develop a model-based system design method that supports designers during the design process of multidisciplinary mechatronic systems. This approach uses a central model of the system architecture throughout the entire design process and allows control, mechanical and software engineers to work together more effectively. In this way, better products can be realised in a faster and more efficient way.



Flemish mechatronic companies need specific technology to be able to assess the objectives and limitations of their designs for every new generation of products. Only in this way, they can stay a step ahead of the international competition. This strategic project runs from March 2016 up to February 2018 and aims to develop effective and multidisciplinary system-level techniques in view of design optimisation. These mechanisms must take into account many parameters, translate the operation of the system into concrete components and automatically anticipate the dynamic system response. In short, the project has the ambition to realise a technical-scientific breakthrough in the design of complex machine and product generations using new design tools and workflows within an efficient framework.



The integration of algorithms in mechatronic vehicles and machines and their commercialisation require extensive testing. Unfortunately, experimental tests for the validation of controllers are in all circumstances time-consuming, expensive and complex. That’s exactly what Flanders Make wants to change with this project. This research project runs from July 2015 to December 2017 and focusses on the development of a model-based test strategy combining experimental and virtual performance tests. This method and the corresponding supporting software tools will be validated on practical and iterative applications. Its purpose? Lowering costs, shortening the time-to-market and improving the quality of products and processes.



When vehicles and machines become more complex, more intelligent and more expensive and use more and more rapidly evolving electronics, traditional methods are no longer adequate for designing reliable products.

The purpose of this project is to develop a methodology and tools using physical failure models and integrate them in the overall product development process. In this way, the reliability of products can be fundamentally improved and development costs and time can be reduced.

This leads to better products and applications, both on hardware, software and functional safety level.

Within the scope of this research project, six very diverse companies validate the competitive advantage of this methodology in the product development phase.