How MAN Truck & Bus aims to significantly reduce product development time

This post has originally been published on linkedin via the MAN Truck & Bus SE Page. We want to syndicate this outstanding article with all credit given to our amazing customer!

The rear axle of a bus has to bear particularly heavy loads. For this reason, it has a sophisticated structure which is complex and costly to manufacture.

Amélie Jacquemart-Purson, project manager for “Disruptive bus concepts“ in pre-development, explains: “At MAN, we work continuously to increase efficiency in all areas. Additionally, it is particularly important to us to improve the development process for our products.” For a design study of the rear axle in the ‘Disruptive Bus concepts’ project, we engaged in an exciting cooperation with start-up company ELISE.

The goal was to optimize the existing design of the rear axle in terms of performance, lightweight design requirements and production.

We are excited about the results: The development time was drastically reduced. How was this possible?

The software automatically generates a number of different design concepts for the rear axle of a bus. To do this, it uses the innovative method of generative engineering. ELISE co-founder and head of application engineering, David Leidenfrost, explains this approach: “We don’t develop the component but rather its technical DNA – a digital set of rules  containing design and manufacturing constraints according to which any number of variants can be automatically created.”

With such digital workflows of product development processes as displayed below in figure 1 and in combination with additive manufacturing methods, we were not only able to significantly reduce development time but also create an optimized product.

ELISE Workflow at MAN Truck Bus

Figure 1 Technical DNA of rear axle interface; from technical specification, generative features to concept evaluation

The automatically created rear axle is 36 % lighter than the the current design  together with improved mechanical performance. The result was so convincing that we will continue to explore this path.

With the help of ELISE we were specifically aiming to increase the pace of product development. And the results were impressive.

“In the future, we expect to reduce the development time of the finished component with this software by up to 50 %,” Michel Troitzsch, concept engineer in project “Disruptive bus concepts” at MAN pre-development explains.

The automatic generation of design variants, which can be achieved with ELISE, is key for this acceleration. In this particular case we have calculated several hundred designs for our product. We were able to try out different requirements, and all of it in record time.

In comparison, following conventional iteration loops between calculation, design, and simulation, we would have only been able to test a few variations during the same period. This process is very time and resource intensive.

However, the automatic generation of different concepts, as well as a more precise estimation of the variants with regard to durability and weight, reduces the development time drastically.

Considering the positive outcome, we at MAN will expand our work with the software platform ELISE by applying it to the truck sector.

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