Optimised Product Development and Designing for Excellence: The Greif-Velox VeloVac-FIBC
Greif-Velox’s VeloVac-FIBC uses a specially designed process to fill ultra-lightweight powders, such as carbon black, in a clean, safe and compact fashion into FIBCs (”big bags”). This saves customers up to 75 percent in storage and logistics costs, plus the expense of time-consuming cleaning operations. In addition to the VeloVac-FIBC’s performance, other issues have been optimised with the aid of DfX during development, from its construction to its operation. We explain more about this in the Q&A below.
What does “DfX” stand for?
“DfX” stands for “Design for Excellence” and includes methods, design guidelines and checklists for continuously improving products and processes along the entire product life cycle. The “X” can also stand for the different areas in which the VeloVac-FIBC has been optimised, such as Design for Production and Design for Service.
What does this mean for the development team and the development process?
In order to incorporate various perspectives, we brought together an interdisciplinary team of specialists from the areas of manufacturing, assembly, service, sales, project management and every engineering discipline (like development, design, production and testing) for the development of the VeloVac-FIBC.
In the process, it’s important to keep an eye on the goal of added value and product costs. At the same time, a team must also gather and sort out customer requirements, and the head of development always has to maintain a strategic view so they can provide a solution-oriented approach and structure even in the most complex scenarios.
What are the advantages of the DfX method for product development?
Cooperation among design, production and manufacturing can help reduce errors at an early stage and significantly shorten the time between production and launch. The more effective this collaboration is, the more value the product can generate in its lifecycle. For example, one of the outcomes from this process was that the team determined they should design the system as a modular one.
What does this modular system involve?
From discussions with our customers, we know that a purely manual, non-automatic bagging system can be sufficient depending on their needs. However, in order to have the option of subsequently upgrading the machine and equipping it with automatic components, we’ve designed the VeloVac-FIBC to be retrofit-capable as a four-stage modular concept. This allows our customers to have their system calculated and expanded according to their requirements – depending on whether they want a higher degree of automation with a higher investment (and thus greater time savings), or a lower-cost investment that requires more time. In addition, the systems are naturally in use longer if they can be easily expanded or upgraded.
What other perspectives have been incorporated into the development of the VeloVac-FIBC, such as from the customer or service point of view?
Thanks to DfX, every element of the system is designed for the greatest possible user benefit. Transport and assembly, for example, were designed in such a way that the system – despite its size and weight – can be set up and brought into service by one person. When set up by two people, the system can be ready for filling after just one day. The system can be operated intuitively with a clear user interface, which conveniently can also be used to view process data. All sensor and actuator data can be recorded, evaluated and used for self-optimisation of the system via machine learning.
The result is a durable, retrofit-capable product that can be adapted to new situations, or that can adapt itself to achieve the highest possible efficiency.