Engineering Services – Product Concept Development, Design and Prototype Fabrication

Unlike most engineering firms, PAMI’s services go beyond detailed design to encompass in-house prototype fabrication and testing that proves product performance prior to production.

PAMI provides the engineering expertise needed to develop a new product or optimize an existing one.   PAMI has adopted a standardized process that will be familiar to most organizations which includes the following steps…

Step 1: Concept Development

Step 1 begins with identifying a requirement for a new product. Through consultation, the product specification is defined to include its functional and performance requirements. One or more concepts are usually generated and rough sketches or CAD models are created to convey the product’s fit form and function. A concept review evaluates the options, selects the best option and establishes the criteria for the next steps in the process.

Step 2: Detail Design

Step 2 implements a design based on outputs generated during the design review. A detailed design is generated using 3D, solid-modeling CAD programs such as SolidWorks. CAD models are created for components and assemblies to check for interference before any physical parts are made. Using a design-for-manufacture philosophy, parts and assemblies are designed to ensure they are appropriate for the client’s fabrication capabilities.

Step 3: Analysis

PAMI is well equipped to analyze machinery systems to support R&D or production challenges in a variety of industries.

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The Finite Element Method (FEM; it is also common to encounter Finite Element Analysis or FEA) is commonly used to conduct stress-strain investigations. The most classic case is to use FEA to understand what stress will develop in a part under certain loading conditions. PAMI uses AUTODESK Simulation Mechanical to perform stress-strain analyses. The same package can be used to perform heat transfer modeling.

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The flow of discrete particles like rocks, grains or soils can be studied using the Discrete Element Method (DEM). Modeling discontinuous media in the form of assemblies of discrete particles is relevant to PAMI/WESTEST Clients that deal with machine-product interactions, where mechanical systems can be studied as they affect and as they are affected by product flow. Application examples include traction, conveying, and crop flow in harvesting equipment. Machinery parameters of interest may include forces, power requirements and material wear. Flowrate, size reduction, and flow behaviour are product-related data that can be studied.

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Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be used to study the flow of fluids like air, water, or oil. PAMI uses STAR-CCM+ as its CFD tool. Wind tunnel types of applications are typical (aerodynamics, drag coefficient, turbulence). Multi-phase fluid flows are also possible, where two or more fluids are considered.

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In industry, a large proportion of systems involved more than one physical phenomenon. A relatively recent trend in the world of numerical simulations is the coupling of two (and sometimes multiple) methods. The simple form of a multiphysics analysis is done by doing sequential simulations when the output of one analysis informs the following analysis in the form of initial or boundary conditions. More often than not, the physical phenomena are strongly coupled requiring concurrent simulations that exchange data on the go. The system of interest may involve the movement of particles in air as in pneumatic conveying in which case, a coupled DEM-CFD approach may be appropriate; STAR-CCM+ can performed such fully coupled simulations.

Step 4: Prototype Fabrication and Assembly

To compliment our design expertise and offer clients a unique service, the PAMI team can transform ideas into full-scale working models, whether from an original idea or an existing machine needing modification. A fully equipped fabrication shop staffed by skilled trades personnel can provide anything from a test-bed quality machine to a finished prototype version. Besides a broad range of internal fabrication and tooling capabilities PAMI has access to additional capabilities through relationships developed with preferred local service providers.

Whether you need a single part or a complete system, our team can accommodate the challenge quickly and efficiently.

Assembly of the initial prototype is a critical step in the process that validates previous design assumptions.

Step 5: Testing in the Lab or in the Field

Physical testing confirms that the prototype meets the performance requirements established during the concept phase. If changes are required, the CAD models are revised and the prototype modified until all expectations are met.

One of PAMI’s key strengths is its ability to test equipment in the field and/or in the laboratory, specifically to gather performance data. Data gathering can range from a specific machine function up to the machine’s complete performance. Tests can range from documenting observations to acquiring precise electronic data of mechanical properties related to force, pressure, strain, and speed.

Field Testing Produces Real-World Conditions

In-field functional-performance testing can produce a complete profile of a machine’s performance compared to that of another machine operating under the same conditions.

This type of field-testing is crucial for: establishing optimum settings, comparing components, defining capacity and limits, and balancing performance for specific crops and conditions. It can also provide operator feedback on the ease of operation, adjustment, and maintenance, as well as providing a mechanical history and problem identification.

Laboratory Tests Allow Precise Repeatable Characteristics And Measurements

Laboratory testing’s strength is its ability to target a specific component or function with precisely controlled conditions and close performance monitoring.

Reports and presentations are a routine part of finalizing all tests.

Step 6: Document Release

The final step is to verify the accuracy of all CAD models and create finalized production drawings. A documentation package is prepared which includes detail drawings, purchase-part specifications and assembly drawings with bills of materials. All intellectual property (IP) generated during Client projects are owned by the Client.