Large systems such as machines, production facilities and vehicles are difficult to model in detail as a complete system to evaluate system properties. Various methods are available for depicting a system and its many parameters and describing it via a system model in a general description language.

Mechatronic Product development (model-based mechatronic system design) involves close examination and further development of design methods, design processes (e.g., for forming a team and defining workflows), models of various types and degrees of detail, and development tools (e.g., software).

Since January 2013 a large multi-firm project at LCM K2 area runs that involves system modeling and four partner companies. This is especially through the rising complexity of products and production processes, where development is often distributed across multiple venues and encumbers gaining a handle on dependencies and describing them. While such data exist in companies, they are often scattered or stored in different development tools. Interfaces are important, along with defining which parameters are exchanged among models and how.

In addition to the current multi-firm project with distinguished industrial partners from Austria and Germany, there are often smaller projects that provide variety and represent atypical application domains. Recently, e.g., LCM developed a production concept for a small business that wanted to produce sausages in pretzel form on a large scale, which had been possible only with manual labor. Methods emerging from the research and systematic approaches, especially for concept evaluation, can be employed efficiently for such problems as well.

The requirements of another project with a start-up company involved developing an optimized gear box for small windmills to be used for recharging mobile phones. This enables autonomous energy for mobile users in Africa who otherwise lack a power source for recharging and encounter high prices with power dealers. From the view of product development, the challenge was to enable production of the gear box at minimal cost.

The current trend in mechatronics involves networked mechatronic systems, or cyber physical systems. This couples the virtual world with the real world, e.g., when machines are controlled from a different location. Staying on top of the latest developments involves regular exchange with other scientific partners. Thus early December 2012 saw the 1st Workshop on Mechatronic Design in Linz, where leading experts from science and industry from eight European nations participated in such interchange.

This work has been [partially] supported by the Linz Center of Mechatronics (LCM) in the framework of the Austrian COMET-K2 programme.

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