Our aggregates equipment expert Pasi Kyyhkynen, senior manager for tools, process and modularity and valve expert Bruce Wetherbee, engineering director for intellectual property, shared their views on the development and future outlooks with us.
From paper to data
As in many other industries, paper was the king at Metso. For valve design, as which is tightly controlled, our Engineering Standards group used to have only one controlled paper copy of the rules and regulations. Thus, when an engineer needed to check that their design is compliant with the rules and regulations, they had to leave their desk – to go to the other side of the room, to another floor or, in some cases, to a different city.
Product designs, updates and changes were drawn on paper and sent to different parts of the world. New crusher drawings travelled from France to the USA by mail to our American colleagues, possibly weeks later. Nowadays, when a change to any product is made, it is immediately visible to everyone who has access.
In the 1980s, CAD (computer-aided design) was introduced for the first time, allowing automation and efficient reuse of existing drawings. Even though we continued to print and copy the drawings onto paper until the 2000s, in design work, technology enabled things that would never have been possible if done manually.
From product to customer performance
The increased intelligence in software allowed us to verify the quality and performance of aggregate processing equipment before commissioning. Also, the actual data of how the product is performing is now available almost immediately after commissioning. Modern product engineering has been digital for some time. Using 3D models allows the designers to focus on details that were not possible in 2D. A well-designed product helps the customers to maximize the uptime through many aspects.
Moving from manual to automated work has freed time in valve manufacturing as well. Previously, when a valve test was running, someone had to manually keep checking the results, pressure, temperature etc. A shutdown was required every night and every weekend, and testing was limited to the working hours of available laboratory personnel. Now with digital data collection, tests run 24/7, provide more data in less time, and are monitored only by a data logger and the software.
New technology and increased data availability have enabled us to design optimal performance into our products.