Industrial Case Study: the UX in Different Phases of the Product Lifecycle With a Multibody Digital Twin
The case company of this study wants to explore the possibilities of using digital technologies, especially digital twins utilizing VR technologies, to integrate end users and customers into the management of the product lifecycle. The case company has identified the following challenges.
- • Co-developing new products with users to strengthen the customer feedback loop and include innovative ideas in the final product will require a new approach.
- • Because the manufacturing, testing, remanufacturing, and retesting of the prototype demands significant time, money, and effort; product lead time to market can be long.
- • New materials and manufacturing solutions must be developed to accommodate the product s operation in different working environments.
- • Repair and maintenance services to end users and customers will be required to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
- • Decisions regarding the reuse or disposal of products in an eco-friendly way for a safe working environment will have to be worked out with potential users.
In this study, these challenges have been addressed by developing and implementing a multibody-based digital twin of a 3W, 2.0-ton, EVOLT 48 counterbalance forklift. A parameterized real-world counterpart of the multibody forklift model was prepared using multibody equations of motion. The digital model included actual physical dimensions, hydraulics, electric and mechanical actuator data, tires, and contact parameters for a realistic user experience in the real-time simulation. A motion feedback platform andVR/ AR immersive methods tightly integrated the twins and allowed end users and customers to experience the functions and behavior of the forklift in the digital world. The following subsection details the integration of users in the forklift lifecycle using a multibody-based forklift simulation model.
New Product Development Approach: User Co-Creation of a New Forklift Mast System in the Virtual Space
The main challenge faced by the case company is to shorten the product development process while simultaneously including end users and customers in co-creation of product value. The case company currently uses a physical prototyping method to develop new products. In this approach, end users and customers test physical prototypes after manufacturing, which increases product development cost, and the effort and time required. Customers and end users can only comment on the performance of the product after purchase, which extends the customer feedback loop. The multibody simulation permits end users and customers to directly test the new product developed by the company. This UX-driven approach was used in the development of the 3W, 2.0-ton, EVOLT 48 counterbalance forklift. The approach is presented schematically in Figure 12.2. Important user experiences related to the forklift are listed by number. Two-sided arrows highlight the integration of end users and customers through the multibody virtual space with the product development team.
As Figure 12.2 illustrates, end users and customers directly participate in the product development process and comment on the performance of the forklift. Important UX elements related to the forklift are driving experience, mast system loading and unloading, visibility through the mast system, mast wobbling, 360° electric steering, forklift stability, forklift controls and ergonomics, and the working environment of the forklift. The forklift can lift a
Figure 12.2 UX-driven product development of a 3W, 2.0-ton, EVOLT 48 counterbalance forklift using multibody real-time simulation.
maximum of 2000 kg. The driving experience includes forklift forward and backward movements and the braking action. The stability of the forklift under minimum and maximum loads while turning was tested by users in the simulation model.
Another UX-related aspect is the smooth reduction of speed going into corners and the smooth increase on exiting corners. Agility and the ability to turn quickly as well as turning circle are also important. Finally, the visibility and clarity of the displays used is a further important aspect of user experience.The loading experience is how the mast behaves under load. An important behavior mentioned was the smoothness and accuracy of the lifting. Smoothness corresponds to continuous movement or extension of the mast when the operator uses the switches. Additionally, mast wobbling provides users and customers with a realistic experience in the real-time simulation.