By Jurg Gerber and John Murray
Bucher Hydraulics Division produces valves that are mainly used in mobile applications in construction and agricultural machinery, as well as in wind turbines or industrial applications. Bucher Hydraulics AG Frutigen, located in the Bernese Oberland in the Swiss Alps, is one of the company’s six competence centers; it specializes in cartridge and customized valves and valve manifolds. Each competence center is responsible for a separate area: design/layout/construction, prototyping and testing, serial production, sales, and aftersales.
Analyzing versions and running through what-if scenarios is quick and easy in FloEFD for Creo. Images courtesy of Bucher Hydraulics.
In the past when Bucher Hydraulics engineers built small- and medium-sized valves, they were able to obtain test results and optimize the products in a short time at reasonable costs from the prototyping and testing competence center. They didn’t need to use flow simulation because they were able to quickly use real results.
But today’s projects are for valves that deliver high flow and pressure at very low pressure drop within small dimensions. For these housings or manifolds, all the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations were being done at a specialized competence center. This was causing delays because of the turnaround time needed for handover from the designer to the operator (preparation of data files and explanation of the task), handover from the operator to the designer (visualization of the results and its explanation), and misunderstandings of task and interpretation that led to several repetition loops. To further complicate matters, the team was working with four different software programs for modeling, meshing, calculation and visualization, which needed dedicated people to use and maintain daily.
Bucher wanted simulation and testing software that would be easy to learn and use for the valve designer. The company also wanted quick and precise results with good and simple visualization, simple use of existing CAD-3D data, and a data repository that would include variants.
After reviewing the options, Bucher chose Mentor Graphics’ FloEFD for Creo because it enables engineers to conduct fluid flow analysis inside the PTC Creo MCAD environment — and to simulate their designs quickly, efficiently and early in the process. Three design engineers were trained by Elinter Ltd., a reseller of Mentor Graphics solutions, on how to use FloEFD. They in turn trained two more engineers. Within a few months, Bucher organized a two-day training session (including a half-day of support from Elinter) for four more engineers from other competence centers.
Bucher found that the layout of valves has become automatically better, especially in regard to performance and costs, because its team can analyze more variations in the amount of time it used to take to analyze a conventional design without CFD. The first design is now much closer to the target, and optimization of the prototypes is much more efficient with FloEFD. Because of the good results and availability, Bucher uses FloEFD for the design of new products as well as the optimization of existing valves.
Custom valves created at Bucher Hydraulics.
Time is of the essence in today’s global marketplace, and by enabling design engineers at Bucher to conduct what-if analysis and progress their designs quickly, the company is able to provide products that offer a great combination of functionality and high reliability — with a great price:performance ratio. DE
Editor’s note: See the related commentary: “The Power of Simulation Driven by Design.”