T he design of the Optimus truck cab incorporates best- in- class- packaging zones for all popular chassis, powertrain and HVAC requirements. But the real story is not about the cab' s design attributes but about the innovative design process that MIRA adopted. MIRA is a proven exponent of innovative design and from the outset of the Optimus project, the company used its broad experience to prescribe the materials and production techniques required to produce the design, taking full advantage of known volume manufacturing considerations. The design and development set out to maximise the benefits of digital techniques. Digital versus traditional approach Traditionally, styling and engineering would have been conducted using different software applications, eventually culminating in a full-size clay model of the chosen design. This model would then be used to assess and refine aerodynamic performance in a wind tunnel and then, after any subsequent styling changes had been made, the model would be digitised to create CAD data for production engineering. MIRA ignored this traditional method of ' reverse engineering' from clay models in favour of a more-integrated digital approach. The initial styling phase began with traditional sketch development to brainstorm ideas and define the " In a radical departure from accepted processes, CATIA was used not only for engineering design, but also for styling"
design direction. As soon as this was achieved the design team quickly moved to digital media for all subsequent development. In a radical departure from accepted processes, CATIA was used to progress not only the engineering design but also the styling - developing both in tandem. Computational fluid dynamics ( CFD) was also used to simultaneously refine the design' s aerodynamic performance without having to resort to physical models and wind tunnels - another benefit afforded by the totally digital approach. This created a highly- integrated process which helped reduce timescales and smoothed the workflow. New thinking Ken Anderson, MIRA' s engineering design manager, explains the reasoning behind this new approach: " Styling the design directly in the industry- standard CATIA software enabled the requisite design engineering to progress in tandem with styling evolutions. By doing this we were able to ensure at all times that proposed styling changes were feasible within known legislative, structural and packaging constraints." Anderson continues: " As a design and development consultancy, simply replicating our client' s designs and processes will not draw them to MIRA. We need to show that we bring something new to the table. Optimus demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of new thinking and fully- engineered solutions." The final design comprises a generic chassis able to incorporate bespoke body panels. Customers benefit from a high- quality engineered product, which they can ' customise' to their own brand identity, but at a fraction of the usual cost of developing a new vehicle. By adopting the modular design and digital process, vehicle makers will be able to slash months off development schedules and millions of pounds off development spend from future vehicle programmes. " The project has repositioned MIRA in the minds of our customers," believes Anderson. " No longer are we regarded as simply a development partner. Today full programme responsibility - from styling right through to production - is the order of the day." more information? click here!