World-Leading Crane Manufacturer TADANO FAUN Accelerates Its Design Processes with HyperWorks
Designing mobile cranes, with countless possible configurations, can be a mind-bending experience for Tadano Faun GmbH engineers. The Japanese-owned company, headquartered near Nuremberg, Germany, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cranes that lift equipment at construction sites. Ensuring that these cranes — each with as many as eight axles — have the flexibility that contractors need can present substantial engineering challenges.
In 2008, the TADANO Group manufactured and sold internationally more than 2,700 telescopic cranes, as well as loading cranes, aerial working platforms and special vehicles. Throughout their lifecycles, TADANO FAUN products comply with the most demanding expectations of their customers, maintaining a stable high value.
Consequently, customers benefit from TADANO FAUN as a global company committed to the development of cranes in line with market requirements around the world. Furthermore, the company is focused on the continuous improvements of its operational and business processes.
“A TADANO FAUN crane offers approximately 40 main-boom telescoping states,” notes Andreas Hofmann, head of the company’s structural engineering department. “Each of these states can be configured in about 20 different ways over a turning range of 360°, and boom extensions allow for 30 to 50 more possible configurations. Add in various counterweights and outrigger bases and our engineers must find the optimum designs for more than 150,000 load cases to lead into a rated load value for our customer.”
TADANO FAUN Success Story
“Today, with HyperWorks, we can really say we are faster and the time to result is shorter. In addition, Altair’s support is quite perfect; as a customer, you really feel at home”by Andreas Hofmann
Among all the considerations that enter into crane design, says Hofmann, “our biggest problem is having to keep the total weight of the machine under strictly regulated limits.” TADANO FAUN designs and manufacturers mobile cranes for customers in the United States, Europe and Asia, and each geographical area has its own requirements. “For example, we have a 12-ton load limit to drive the crain on a road in Germany,” Hofmann notes. “So we have to do weight optimization in the steelwork. Furthermore, the regulations change often, so we must react rapidly.”
The Challenge: Meshing Matters
TADANO FAUN had been conducting finite element analysis with a CAD-based solution containing, in Hofmann’s words, “a tackedon meshing solution.” This software, like many others that the company had previously benchmarked, was part of a CAD suite, which Hofmann felt was unable to make accurate finite element method (FEM) calculations.
“One of the biggest pains in the solution we formerly used,” he recalls, “was that we could only read CAD data using neutral file formats, dropping the link to the native CAD model and giving us only a static snapshot of the design.”
Hofmann sought out a software suite that would open the model in CATIA directly inside the FEM solution itself so his engineers could immediately begin working on it. “We had the idea to change our FEM analysis system and find something that fit our needs better,” he says. “The accuracy of FEM models is very important to us, and it’s more important for us to create a proper, accurate FEM than just to make some colorful pictures.”
The Solution: The CAE Capabilities of HyperWorks
After examining many competing solutions, Hofmann switched to Altair’s HyperWorks for TADANO FAUN’s finite element analysis needs. “We selected HyperWorks because of its meshing capabilities and its units-based licensing model,” he says.
TADANO FAUN is using HyperMesh for geometry manipulation, stitching and creating midsurfaces from solid models. It calls on the RADIOSS solver for implicit structural analysis and is using OptiStruct in optimizing designs to balance weight and performance.
Compared to CAD-based FEM solutions, Hofmann points out, “HyperWorks comes from the other side—it’s a native FEM solution and aims toward structural analysis. It’s not fixed to a particular CAD or CAE solution.”
TADANO FAUN’s engineers established their own version of “simulation-driven design,” internally known as the “cranedriven” analysis process, in which structural engineers and designers work side-byside
from the beginning of the product development process.
Results: Faster Time to Results
Before adopting HyperWorks, Tadano Faun’s process used FEM analysis only as a proof of design, applying the technology after a design draft and design concept had been selected. “Structural analysis was seen
as less important and , where analysis results were needed, we experienced long waiting times,” Hofmann says. “Early-stage design failures come to light too late with this methodology.”
With HyperWorks, however, structural analysis now helps drive the initial design. “The structure determines in general what the design will look like from the very beginning, and the designer and structural engineer understand each other’s needs much better,” Hofmann reports. “We evolved from considering weight to be the most important factor to structural design being most important. We use more, smaller analysis steps to gain faster results.”
Now TADANO FAUN engineers can open CAD models inside the suite’s HyperMesh application. “We found that the designer modified CAD models much faster than a structural engineer was able to modify the FE models,” Hofmann points out. “Now, direct CAD model usage inside of HyperMesh speeds up calculation and ensures usage of the actual state of design.”
With HyperWorks, TADANO FAUN now has established a robust process that provides for structural analysis early in the design lifecycle, structural optimization for existing machines when new motors and exhaust systems are designed, and structural optimization during the concept phase for new machines.
The biggest benefit of HyperWorks, according to Hofmann, has been the speed with which it creates models. “Today, with HyperWorks, we can really say we are faster and the time to result is shorter,” he affirms. In fact, Tadano Faun engineeres are completing some FEM projects, twice as quickly as before.
Moreover, Hofmann has found the licensing model to be unique and helpful. “If you don’t have many workers on the same software at the same time, you don’t need all those licenses, so the HyperWorks units-based licensing model provides us with a lot more flexibility” he observes. “In addition, Altair’s support is quite perfect; as a customer, you really feel at home.”