Multidisciplinary engineering company VIRO specializes in industrial projects, mechanical engineering and product engineering. With customers ranging from small companies to multinational firms, such as ASML, AKZO Nobel and Shell, VIRO provides complete solutions, including feasibility studies, basic and detailed engineering, analysis, commissioning, and startup and aftersales service. Headquartered in Hengelo, Netherlands, VIRO has 10 offices and employees work within a flat organizational structure that supports cross-departmental cooperation to ensure that the needs of the customer always take priority. According to Theo Wigger, general manager of VIRO, the company has grown from 80 to 600 employees in the past decade. The use of product lifecycle management (PLM) technology (NX™ software and Teamcenter® software) from Siemens PLM Software continues to help fuel the firm’s organic growth.
The engineers at VIRO know that the best way to meet customer deadlines is by shortening the development process. One way in which VIRO achieves this is by enabling design and analysis to be performed concurrently. “What we used to see is analysts only getting involved in the late stages of a project,” says Jacob Vlasma, department manager of engineering analysis. “That meant that any changes to the design were expensive and disrupted our timeline. To overcome this, we now have the computer-aided engineering (CAE) specialists and the design engineers working together from the outset, from the specification phase.” A team of design engineers at VIRO are trained in CAE techniques, enabling them to design with a better understanding of analysis, and appreciate this discipline’s importance in terms of both design impact and time relative to the overall product development process. “We can see that when we involve both CAD (computer-aided design) and CAE engineers from the beginning, we work more efficiently and create a better design,” explains Vlasma. “By using NX, we can easily switch between the two different modes. We can use the CAD environment and the CAE environment together in one project.” According to Vlasma, this integration is VIRO’s biggest advantage: “NX is the most powerful tool that we have to develop new products.”
Vlasma cites one example in which changes in wind direction were causing one side of a fluid-carrying pipeline to cool much more than the other side. “We used NX Flow to determine the temperature profiles with the different wind directions,” says Vlasma. “We put those temperature profiles along with the pressure distribution into the structural environment and assessed the mechanical stresses and fatigue.” VIRO’s engineering analysts performed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis by using NX Flow to determine the temperature distribution on the surface of the pipeline, applied the temperature as a thermal load on the structure, and used this data to determine the deformation of the bellows and the ensuing mechanical stresses. “To solve the problem, we altered the environment around the structure by adding some obstacles to make the wind distribution more even, which resulted in fewer stress fluctuations,” recalls Vlasma. “This is a good example of how we use NX, and how NX helps us to complete a project with more speed and efficiency than when we use different software tools that aren’t integrated as well as NX.” VIRO engineers find the synchronous modeling capabilities of NX particularly useful. In 2008, synchronous technology entered the CAD/CAE market with a breakthrough that delivered accelerated design, faster change, and improved re-use of any imported 3D CAD data. “When customers send us design data, such as STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data) files, we use the synchronous modeling functionality of NX to clean up the geometry and perform tasks like removing slivers and fillets to create meshable geometry,” says Vlasma. “In addition, sometimes when we use other CAE programs, we employ synchronous modeling to clean up the 3D geometry.” He notes, “Synchronous technology is an effective tool that noticeably accelerates the process.”