Opening the Window to Mechatronic Systems

It almost seems as though there is no such thing as a purely mechanical system anymore. The proliferation of electronic controls into the automotive industry is evident through almost every vehicle system. With this trend comes the complexity of developing a mechanical design, controls software and hardware, plus system calibration. Recently Altair worked with Faurecia on the optimization of one such system. In this case Faurecia wasn’t adding electronics to a different part of the vehicle, but taking a new approach to an electronic window regulator design.

The design problem sounds deceptively simple; find a regulator cable location that satisfies the requirements for normal forces with different combinations of friction coefficients in the mechanism? Assuming you’re not going to do this by trial and error with a physical prototype, the first thing that you need is a representative multi-body dynamics (MBD) model that can provide the normal forces. If you are going to include your controls in the design exploration, your MBD model needs to co-simluate with your chosen algorithm development tool. Then to be efficient in evaluating cable positions with the different combinations of friction coefficients in the system you need to drive the model with a parametric study tool, preferably one with the functionality to support reliability and robustness optimization.

The Faurecia team achieved an optimal design that met all of the, seemingly conflicting, requirements. Dany Desrus , Leader Product Line EE & Mechatronic , Faurecia Interior Systems told us “Co-simulation of window regulator with MotionSolve and Matlab/Simulink gives a full mechatronic model of the system, allowing simultaneous design of both mechanism and actuator. HyperStudy allows direct parameterization of data and easy optimization of system design”. In addition to providing a solution for this product the design process is now automated. This will lead to faster design turnarounds, less errors and better designs in the future by eliminating the trial-and-error iterations of the past.

Tony Norton
Tony Norton

About Tony Norton

Tony leads the Americas based Altair ProductDesign teams in the delivery of early concept (industrial design, design exploration, testing & prototyping) and advanced simulation driven design (cutting-edge modeling, optimization, methods development & automation) to our customers. Before joining Altair UK in 1996, he worked at both Ford Motor Company and GEC-Marconi Avionics. He moved to Michigan in 1999 to join Altair US, and holds a Bachelors degree from The University of Hertfordshire in England.