Why Excessive Iterations Slow Your Design Process

Heavy equipment attachments refer to various tools and devices that can be connected to construction machinery to enhance their functionality and adaptability for different tasks. For a single machine, like an excavator, skid steer loader, or backhoe, constructors can use different tools to perform multiple functions, which significantly reduces the need for multiple specialized machines on a job site.

Construction equipment attachments often include buckets for digging and scooping materials, hydraulic hammers for breaking up concrete or rock, augers for drilling and boring holes in the ground, grapples for grabbing and moving materials or debris, forks for lifting and moving pallets or loads, blades for leveling and pushing materials like soil or snow, rippers for tearing through hard or frozen ground, and compactors for compacting soil or other materials.

Montage of different equipment attachments on the left with a yellow excavator with a bucket attachment on the right.

According to Global Market Insights, the construction equipment attachments market size was valued at USD 6 billion in 2022 and is poised to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 4% between 2023 and 2032. The high demand for construction machinery attachments is linked to the increase in number and scale of construction projects.

Graphic entitled Construction Equipment Attachments Sales Market, showing global statistics and segment valuation, with small heavy construction equipment icons at the bottom.

Compatibility Issue, Barrier to Investment

Separate manufacturers for attachments are common in the heavy industry, even though construction equipment manufacturers could potentially produce these accessories themselves. The main reason resides in the expertise to build dedicated attachments to meet specific needs. These specialized attachment manufacturers can also be more agile in responding to market needs and innovations.

Nevertheless, ensuring the right fit between attachments and equipment is complex. Even with their expertise, accessory manufacturers face this significant obstacle: designing products that can be attached to any brand or model of machinery. Contractors may also hesitate to invest in attachments that may not be compatible with their existing machinery.

Countless Iteration, Endless Prototyping

To develop a custom attachment, designers often engage in a never-ending prototyping process with countless iterations. For instance, a manufacturer might spend weeks creating a prototype only to find that it does not fit the equipment properly. This long product development process originates from the difficult access to the machinery, the increased complexity of heavy equipment, and the lack of data collected for reverse engineering.

Difficult Access to Operating Machinery

Specialized attachment manufacturers generally do not own the heavy equipment. So, they must have access to the equipment to take measurements, but the machine is usually in continual operation and unavailable.

Even when they are granted access, it is often parked outside, covered with dirt and dust, exposed to harsh weather, and with other heavy vehicles traveling nearby. As a result, data collection must be done quickly.

More Technologically Complex Machines

Heavy equipment has grown increasingly complex over the years due to the integration of advanced hydraulics, sophisticated control systems, connectivity, and automation technologies.

As a result, designing attachments also becomes complex as there are more physical elements to consider. Designers must have a clear and in-depth picture of the environment to which the accessory will be attached.

Lack of Accurate Data

When designing an attachment, the first step is to assess the environment to which it will be juxtaposed. While designers may have access to computer-aided design (CAD) data for the equipment, it may not match the actual model in the field. This is why the design team prefers to take their own measurements to ensure compatibility.

However, collecting enough accurate data can be challenging, and once back in the office, the team needs to be able to locate these measuring points to reconstruct the surface precisely. This can be challenging if they only rely on a measuring tape and pictures.

Inefficient Design Process: Waste of Time and Siphoning of Money

All these obstacles impact the design process. Insufficient data quantity and quality means the first prototype will not fit perfectly. Hence, new measurements will be necessary to correct it. This involves returning to the equipment’s location and checking for compatibility. A second prototype will then be produced, which will, hopefully, be compatible.

The compatibility of prototypes is directly proportional to the quality and quantity of the collected data. Insufficient data risks causing other whereabouts and adjustments until a prototype with the right fit is finally produced. This time-consuming and costly process diverts resources from other profitable activities.

Getting the Right Fit with One Prototype

Is achieving a perfect fit on the first try with one prototype realistic? The answer is yes if the data is collected from the beginning with 3D scanning technology. With a 3D scanner, technicians can capture the complete 3D dimensions of surfaces in just one session, regardless of size and complexity. This large amount of data, combined with the accuracy of the measurements, allows designers to precisely reconstruct the environment to which their accessory will be attached. 3D scanning enables them to work with the correct information from the start, eliminating the need to redo measurements and iterations.

Man in safety jumpsuit wearing a hard hat using a HandySCAN 3D MAX Series scanner outside to scan a forklift attachment on a concrete block.

Since a 3D scanner is easy to handle and set up, technicians can either capture the data set more quickly or measure a larger area from different angles in the same amount of time, thus ensuring better confidence in the 3D model.

Reduced Design Time: Better Efficiency, More Business

No longer having to travel numerous times to retake measurements and redo prototypes saves enormous design time. And, saving time in the design stage can significantly enhance the manufacturer’s efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

As a result, the company can produce more attachments, meet more demands, and get more business. It can also deliver products with the right fit faster to customers, leading to higher satisfaction and possibly more contracts in the future. Finally, producing fewer prototypes means reducing waste, thereby reducing the cost per unit and leading to higher profit margins.

Seamless Integration of 3D Scanning Technology

Still, some attachment manufacturers may perceive 3D scanning as a complicated technology and may think that they will need a completely new 3D infrastructure to handle the 3D scanning data.

To understand how to smoothly transition to 3D scanning, read our following content:

3D Scanning Helps with the Design of Engine Block Mounts

Article written by Creaform

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