By Jim Montague, Executive Editor
Putting mechatronics principles and tools into practice isn't too difficult. It just requires some forethought, preparation and planning. Here's a list of the main tasks needed to implement a mechatronics-based design and build program:
- Examine the mechanical, electronics, controls and software departments, and make sure they have veteran and inspired managers who are willing to collaborate outside traditional silos.
- Draft an internal group to explore and be trained in mechatronics tools and methods.
- Find new ways for each engineering team to communicate and interact more closely and more often. For example, reorganize workspaces around project-focused meeting areas.
- Poll each team to learn what they're likely to routinely require from the others. This will further improve communications, and help reduce surprise demands when projects are underway.
- Research advances in model-based design software—such as the addition of dynamic motion simulation—and select the most appropriate tools for your organization, the machines and equipment it typically designs and builds, and the user applications it serves.
- Organize design programs, add communication tools, and perhaps implement common software-based workspaces, such as Microsoft SharePoint, so mechanical, electrical, controls and software engineers can collaborate more easily.
- Test and retest machine design simulations before building prototypes. Eventually move from using a prototype to check simulation performance to instead using detailed simulation to verify how a later prototype will function.
- Conduct an experimental or rehearsal mechatronics project, and use it to develop a procedural template for future projects, which can be adjusted to meet the requirements of individual projects.