HOW REAL-TIME SIMULATION IS CHANGING MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
LUT University – Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology has served as a forerunner – combining technology and business – ever since its inception in 1969 and has been ranked as one of the world’s 20 most promising and rapidly developing challenger universities. LUT University uses digital twins to conduct research and develop sustainable product processes through simulation.
Lappeenranta University of Technology utilizes Digital Twin -simulation solutions to tackle current global challenges in technology and business. The university’s SIM research platform focuses on real-time simulation, virtual reality, and HMI technologies; product life-cycle management via the internet of things; and sustainable customer value through IoT and digitalization.
LUT University forms a significant part of Mevea’s story as the alma mater of the company’s founders who started in the field of mechatronics and real-time simulation. Therefore, the ongoing collaboration between Mevea and LUT University could be seen as a type of homage to the high-quality engineering education available at the University.
REAL-TIME SIMULATION BRINGS DIFFERENT ENGINEERING DISCIPLINES TOGETHER
Engineering is a multifaceted collection of disciplines – they complement one another but can differ greatly. The variance in disciplines can be observed in the existing lines of products, which are developed through interdisciplinary synergy.
LUT University uses Mevea’s real-time simulation software to build physics-based digital twins of real machines. Since the simulated models behave like real machines, real-time simulation permits different specialists to understand how their discipline affects a machine and analyze its behavior in real-time. “This is an extremely valuable lesson because of course, we want to have good, say, hydraulic actuators, but more importantly, we want to have a machine whose performance is optimized as an entire entity,” explains Aki Mikkola, Professor of Virtual Design and the Director of LUT’s SIM platform.
LEARNING THROUGH SIMULATION
LUT University provides students with tailor-made courses to learn the theory behind the simulation software. Given its openly documented nature, students can conduct independent research using the Digital Twin simulations. While they can conduct tests within their specialized fields of expertise, Mevea’s software enables them to observe the overall effect of a test on an entire machine, providing a more complete view.
In the context of education, real-time simulation also has the added benefit of gamified learning. Student teams can compete in simulations with different tasks and targets. Operating in a simulated environment grants the students development and test opportunities with adjustable conditions, evolving technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and smart materials. Moreover, real-time simulations facilitate a stronger innovation process and a different take on mechanical engineering and problem-solving. Altogether, the relationship between digital twins and sustainable development is underlined by, among many other things, energy efficiency, process and product development, and reduced development costs. Real-time simulation essentially acts as a portal to a more sustainable future.
REAL-TIME SIMULATION SAVES TIME IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Software development is a resource-intensive and complex process, even at a simple level. The overarching view on the development work is that the complexity increases significantly when the software is tied to applications in the physical world.
Mevea real-time simulation software could be defined as “open software”, as it allows the users to combine a particular discipline of engineering to itself. Should the user wish to replace a specific module in the simulation, they can develop their own version and implement it directly into the simulation. “It’s really a great challenge to build software on your own. We are speaking about, say, roughly, ten years, fifteen years of effort to make a software that is easy to use and capable to analyze different disciplines in real-time,” says Mikkola.
Research and software development are often long-term endeavors due to their inherent time-consuming nature. However, the rapidly evolving technology has created new opportunities to adopt a more efficient and innovative way to conduct research in the field of engineering via physics-based simulations. “There is a shortcut available and this shortcut is Mevea software. It helps you to build a model and focus on your own specialization without investing too much time into this background information”, Mikkola concludes.