The Technical-Business Aspects of Two Technical-Business-Mid-Sized Manufacturing Companies Implementing a Joint Simulation Model

Manouchehr Mohammadi, Kalle Elfvengren,

Qasim Khadim and Aki Mikkola

9.1 Introduction

Companies are increasingly developing their business-to-business (B2B) activities to offer more exciting products to end users and customers. However, because B2B business-model decisions are generally made without input from end users, these companies often do not achieve their sustainable business objectives. Simulation offers an opportunity' to increase customer value at different phases of the product lifecycle (Ripley, 2009; Tao et ai, 2019). However, little research has been done on the technical-business aspects of implementing simulation in a B2B framework. Nonetheless, real-time simulation methods can tightly integrate end users and customers with B2B activity. In addition, many conventional simulation studies ignore the physics of the real world, which limits the possible technical-business advantages of simulation technologies. Introducing real-time simulation can eliminate this lack of real-world physics perspective.

Integrated with a modern simulator system, real-time simulation enables end users and customers to directly participate in the development and testing of products. If two manufacturing companies that are providing complementary equipment for a particular industry segment work together to develop a B2B joint simulation model, their end users and customers can be engaged to help select components or sub-components to design and test forthcoming products that provide better customer value. Using physics-based real-time simulation makes it possible for the end users and customers to experience the dynamic behaviors of the products represented by the joint simulation model. From a preset range of values, they can set the required component parameters to guide the design of optimal, accurate, scalable, and efficient products. In this way, realtime joint simulation efforts can contribute to the B2B activities of both participating manufacturing companies.

One identified industry need is to better understand the technical-business aspects of implementing simulation in mid-sized manufacturing companies.

Considering this need, this chapter focuses on a case example where realtime simulation models from two different Finnish companies are integrated to increase customer value with respect to B2B activity. Objectives include increasing the participation of the end users and customers, examining the feasibility of using parameterized simulation models, and exploring the technical and business aspects of the joint simulation effort. The case example involves the real-time simulation models of forestry tractor and harvester crane systems.

The chapter is structured as follows.The following section reviews previous research on the topic. The third section (Section 9.3) defines an architecture for building the joint simulation model. In addition, it determines how the combined model can be constructed based on user needs. The case example, combining the simulation models of theValtra N-series tractor and the Kesla 6H-series harvester crane systems, is described and discussed in the fourth section (Section 9.4). The challenges experienced from both the technical and business points of view are reviewed. The section also proposes possible solutions (lesson learned). Conclusions are presented in the final paragraphs.

9.2 Related Research

B2B activities would be more successful if end users had more input into product development. Customer value should be a key aspect of initiatives to establish customers and end users as stakeholders in B2B activities (Carmona-Lavado et al., 2020; Lesmono et al., 2020).To achieve and sustain a competitive advantage, customer value in product development must be improved (Anderson et ai, 2006; Zhang et ai, 2013). Moreover, there should be more participation in product development by end users and customers to better define the value of B2B activities through innovative ideas, skills, education, experience, and feedback (Aschehoug et al., 2019; Orcik et al., 2013). Parameterizing products in this way can increase collaboration between users and manufacturers, profitability, and product quality (Orcik et al., 2013). In practice, the implementation of simulation technologies makes it possible to introduce the needs and choices of end users and customers in product development activities (Karlberg, 2013; Tao et al., 2019).

To develop customer-oriented products, Boman et al. also suggested including users in product development via simulation (Boman et al., 1998). Simulation use has been proven to be an efficient way to optimize the product development process, and it is widely used in industry (Mahesh, 2013; Oden, 2006). However, end users and customers can only experience the working cycles of already prepared simulation models. They cannot directly design and test new products (Tao et al., 2019).To capture innovative ideas, users should be able to develop and test a new product simulation model while varying and selecting component parameters from a catalog according to application and needs (Goury, 2018; Mohammadi, 2019; Schmit, 2016). However, end user and customer choices are limited by the traditional use of simulation.This is because these simulation methods may not replicate the physics of actual products, or they do not allow a broad selection range of required parameters.

However, a multibody-based real-time simulation model, with its surrounding environment, gives end users and customers the opportunity to experience real-world operations. These real-time simulation models are physics-based models that include solutions to the equations of motion. The experiences and customer feelings offered by these simulations can be beneficial in the product development phase of B2B activities. Real-time simulation had been employed in multibody systems in various applications such as aviation (DuVal, 2001) and automotive (Dede, 2014;Tavernini, 2009).The hours of work needed to develop a model without any guarantee of achieving useful results is the biggest impediment to extending the use of real-time simulation (Quesada, 2016).

Efforts have also been made to develop customizable/generic real-time simulation models that are simple, quickly adapted, and modifiable by end users and customers (Mohammadi, 2019). For instance, Kaikko developed a simulation model to help find electric drive solutions for industrial vehicles exploring technical aspects of real-time simulation (Kaikko, 2015). Steele also studied a generic model, applicable to several systems, by focusing on the simulation information (Steele, 2002). From a business point of view, reducing build-up/ manufacturing time is desirable. There fore, a number of researchers have worked on improving the efficiency of the generic models to decrease manufacturing times in various areas such as logistics manufacturing (Wy, 2011) and drivetrain modeling (Zhao, 2013).

The technical-business aspects of a B2B joint simulation using customiz- able/generic models through real-time simulation have not yet been discussed. To fill this gap, this study provides a roadmap and details the technical-business aspects of building the customizable/generic product of a B2B joint venture through real-time simulation. It could help to establish a balance between the needs of different partners in a B2B activity to achieve better success.

 
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