Femap Case Study- Agricultural Equipment

Optimizing aluminum vehicle bodies

A design process built on Solid Edge, Femap and Teamcenter helps Europe’s leading manufacturer of all-aluminum truck bodies maintain its number-one position.

7,600 tons of aluminum

Benalu is a leading European manufacturer of aluminum bulk cargo transport vehicles. The first company to introduce an industrial vehicle made with aluminum, Benalu today is renowned for its exceptional knowledge and creativity in the area of reducing vehicle weight. Benalu has also successfully developed a business providing spares and repairs. Positioned in a market that fluctuates from one year to the next, this company of more than 300 people earns more than 30 percent of its revenue from exports. It produces 2,000 to 2,200 vehicles during the course of an average year, with a recent high of nearly 3,000 units.

A pioneering company since it was founded in 1967, Benalu is the result of a union of a financier and an engineer, Dominique Bonduelle and Hubert Pora respectively, who joined forces at a time when they saw aluminum largely used for manufacturing saucepans and airplanes. Bonduelle and Pore felt that it was possible to create a lucrative business with aluminum transport vehicles. They expected aluminum vehicles to be significantly more expensive than similar models made of steel, but much lighter in weight and requiring a different design to maximize the transport payload. They were right.

Today, continuing its founders’ vision, Benalu uses 7,600 tons of aluminum per year, producing primarily the chassis and bodies of transport vehicles. The company is supplied with axles, wheels, hydraulic cylinders (indispensable for the balancing of the body on its chassis), components (braking equipment) and accessories (for signaling) that the company puts together to make semi-trailers of 7 to 13.5 meters in length, with a usable volume in the body hull of 20 to 90 cubic meters. Benalu also has a presence in Sweden, where the mega-lorry, otherwise known as the European Modular System (EMS), is allowed. Since these are not subject to weight limits imposed in France, long-length lorries may be up to 25.25 meters long and weigh up to 60 tons.

Beyond its primary domains (solid bulk cargo transport), Benalu uses its knowledge for the storage of non-processed and non-liquid products, such as building products (sand, gravel), agricultural products (cereals, beets) and industrial products (coke, scrap, powders, residues, various waste). Benalu also makes containers and mobile hulls for use with multimodal transport, particularly the carriage of scrap railway stock, as well as hulls for chassis-cabs.

CAD must support customization

All the Benalu vehicles are made to order, designed according to either the type of load transported, the demands of a client or region, or the regulations of a particular country. “The customized portion of a vehicle is approximately 35 to 40 percent,” says Bertrand Sibile, purchasing director at Benalu who is also in charge of the technical order processing department, and sales administration.

To develop these products, five people work in the Benalu design office, along with five others working in technical order processing. The latter are in charge of the customization work for the clients’ orders. “The design office sets out the main principles, which will become the vehicle of tomorrow,” says Sibile. “Then, when the orders arrive in sales administration, they are sent to the technical order processing department, where the plans for adaptation are made, as are all design plans for completely custom vehicles.

Benalu has been using computer-aided design (CAD) software since 1987 to develop its vehicles. “In the beginning, we were working with a 2D system, and then later we moved to a 3D system that was more powerful, but considered obsolete. It didn’t have the means to leverage our existing data, meaning that all the work undertaken during the course of the previous ten years was going to be lost,” Sibile recalls. “Furthermore, the IT (information technology) architecture was beginning to age, while the price of workstations was dropping. In summary, we had to react and change!”

The search for a modern product lifecycle management (PLM) solution, and one that was able to leverage data created previously, moved the company squarely in favor of Solid Edge® software from Siemens PLM Software. “The only real solution that was offered to us came from a reseller exclusively dedicated to the Siemens Industry Software solutions. They demonstrated to us that Solid Edge was the solution to our problems,” says Sibile. The reseller also proposed recovering the historical CAD data as part of a package deal. “In doing this, we recovered 200 gigabytes of data from our old CAD system, which enabled us to re-use that information effectively.”

After a short training period (six days), the designers who were used to working with the old CAD system had no difficulty moving to Solid Edge with synchronous technology. Even the novices easily learned Solid Edge. Everyone soon understood that what they created on the screen was strictly reflected in reality, as if they had created it in modeling clay. The use of synchronous technology reinforced their positive perception of the virtual world.

Optimizing designs with Femap

Solid Edge was implemented for the 3D design of new products, as well as for the retrieval of existing designs for products in the standard series. The elements that are modeled are validated via structural analysis, which is now being performed internally to a much greater extent through the use of the Siemens PLM Software’s Femap™ software. Femap is also used to mesh the CAD models. The linear stress analysis isn’t carried out on a complete vehicle, but on the parts of the vehicle for which boundary conditions and other specifications are known. “This allows us to iterate internally with the aim of exploring and pre-validating the part, thus optimizing it in a way that we could not do when analysis was performed by an external provider,” says Sibile.

In the Benalu factory, aluminum sheets are cut, profiles are produced, and assemblies are welded. Production is flexible, whatever the series, with production runs varying from a single vehicle to 100 vehicles. The company may produce up to 100 of some vehicles, without any options or variants, in a year. Ten vehicles ordered by the same client is considered a large series.

Download The PDF Here

Download The PDF Here

 Better information management

In the past, the technical order processing staff had to edit the drawings for each individual vehicle. Today, all data relating to a Benalu vehicle is archived under its order number in Teamcenter® software, also from Siemens PLM Software. Preconfigured for rapid deployment and fast return on investment, Teamcenter is both easy to use and deploy.

When the clerk in the manufacturing workshop needs to edit elements or reprint a plan, Teamcenter comes into play. The clerk can either enter the order number for the vehicle or search by keyword or attribute, and then edit the desired PDF documents directly, without having to ask the order processing department for the files. Not having to respond to this type or request, the order processing department can use its time more effectively – designing and adapting the vehicles to the needs of the clients.

Similarly, the purchasing department no longer has to call upon the design office to obtain the documents it needs. It can access Teamcenter directly and be assured that it will receive the correct version. Design office data is available throughout the factory immediately, extending the benefit of this solution across the company and throughout the entire product lifecycle.

People who do not have access to CAD software view design models in the JT™ data format. Siemens PLM Software’s JT data format is an open and widely used technology for 3D visualization, collaboration and data sharing in today’s PLM environments. “The JT format is used internally in every department wishing to view the data in 3D,” explains Sibile. “This format also allows us to share 3D presentations with partners, prospects and clients, without them needing direct access the CAD server.”

Sibile continues, “We have recently started to use software that allows sales administration to create proposals. From there, clients’ specifications are uploaded directly into Teamcenter.”

With Solid Edge, Teamcenter and Femap, Benalu is remaining true to its motto of providing “a hundred models…plus yours.” The comprehensive PLM technologies from Siemens PLM Software is putting Benalu well out in front of competition in the arena of customized aluminum body design.

Learn more about EDGE plm software:

EDGE plm software is a privately owned Australian provider of software solutions aimed at the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors. EDGE has been providing engineering design centric solutions since 2004 with over 500 customers across Australia and New Zealand. Typical solutions from EDGE would include the provision of software, maintenance, support, consulting and training services.

The EDGE software portfolio includes CAD, CAM, FEA & PDM solutions and EDGE fully supports and offers training and mentoring services on its entire portfolio. EDGE has been a business partner of UGS/Siemens since 2004. EDGE also configures and sells Dell hardware to assist our customers maximise their software investments. Read more about us…

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The End of the Powertrain Bias

Internal Combustion Engine vs. Electric Machine, this seems a famous game these days. Media, politicians, OEMs, car owners - all of them have their arguments and for one or the other reasons, they have their vision of where they place themselves in this fight. There is a lot of emotion and mistrust, misinformation and the claim of misinformation, aggression, and response. Diesel bashing here, pointing to insufficient range, burning batteries and recharging of plugin battery-electric vehicles with mobile ICE devices there.


The worrying thing to me is that even in our engineering world you get the impression that you have to choose and you have to choose apriori. It seems that even the world of powertrain engineers has become bipolar, you can either be pro-ICE or pro-E, you can either hug your internal combustion engine or tell the people ICE is dead, you can either tell people there is not enough Lithium on earth or oil, you say a V8 is music or it’s noise, you say too much NOx, Soot or CO2 stems from traffic or from power plants, there’s nothing in between. ICE engineers seem to fear someone takes away their beloved baby, E-guy seem to claim the work of thousands of engineers should go to the trash bin right away.


I call this the powertrain bias!


Now, honestly, like with many topics I have faced in my life I don’t know who is right and I would claim it’s not easy to tell that for anyone. We live in an increasingly complex world and there are many forces at work, legislation, customer expectation, politics, financial interests and finally human emotions. So, as an engineer, you try to rely on something that should give you the answer: pure science. Then you realize: even numbers can be bend, misinterpreted, miscommunicated. It’s clear that oil won’t last forever and that Lithium doesn’t. It’s clear that some may love the sound of an engine and others love the sound of silence. It’s like with anything – even in science - any party will come up with their study of proving they are right.


I truly believe it is this powertrain bias that is the most dangerous thing an engineer can jump onto in a world of incredibly fast-paced change.


That said, as powertrain engineers, we should share only one common goal and that is, make the move of a person from A to B as efficient, comfortable and – not to forget - enjoyable as possible thereby minimizing the negative impact on other people. I understand there are multiple trade-offs in this performance function and the weighting of the individual performance factors is a highly individual thing. Yet, we all should agree on one minimum consensus: As engineers, it is our job to push the limits of efficient, healthy, enjoyable and comfortable movement as far forward as we can without limiting ourselves in the design space by a-priori (bias) decisions.




Therefore here’s my call to all of you: Don’t get caught in that romantic vs. progressive powertrain trap! ICE guys, get over it and hug an electric machine, it won’t hurt. E-guys, step back and look at the amazing piece of engineering an IC engine effectively is. Let’s stay engineers in first place, push the Pareto front forward and make the best we can within the range of our expertise. Stay cool and fair when doing so. Get in touch with the other side and understand their reasoning. This is not a call for becoming emotionless, but it’s a call to reconsider what we should be emotional about: And that is creating great engineering value with our powertrain solutions. Here is my scientific study on the topic: In all times, 100% of all cars will have a powertrain!



So let’s all get together at the Simcenter Conference in Prague to celebrate the end of the powertrain bias. With two days of powertrain presentations from ICE to E, from system- through CFD simulation to test the table is all set. Siemens PLM is there to help you, with simulation- and test solutions on the ICE AND the E, there is no either-or in our portfolio, and hey, for those that are already in the middle of it, we have a solution for all you hybrids!

Together, we can make Prague the Woodstock of Powertrain Engineering. Looking forward to seeing you there.


With that, I leave it with a



the first powertrain-hippie on earth




[1] https://about.bnef.com/electric-vehicle-outlook/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/17/automobiles/wheels/internal-combustion-engine.html

[3] study by the first powertrain hippie on earth



Towards a unified Simcenter solution for electric machine design

Electric motor.jpgHaving a scalable model enables you to use your favorite system simulation tool for various simulation purposes, all along different design stages.


If I look in particular at electric machines, the possibilities are numerous:

  • Simple quasi-static machine models are well suited for power budget or energy management assessment.
  • Simple dynamic models are typically used for machine controls development.
  • Non-linear dynamic equivalent circuit models can give more insight into the motor behavior with high current or under fault conditions.
  • You can also include the machine spatial dependency to take into account the effects of the slots or the magnets shape. This will give you access to torsional vibration analysis and winding current distortions. It could help you validate a controller with a very realistic motor model at early development stages.
  • Co-simulation is an interesting solution in case you need to assess imbalance conditions or high frequency dynamics.Various levels of model complexity in Simcenter Amesim.pngVarious levels of model complexity in Simcenter Amesim

On the downside, setting up all those different models require much information which is not so easy to get. Datasheets provide partial data on the main machine behavior. To go further and to fully take benefit of the Simcenter Amesim Electric Motors and Drive solution, this is largely insufficient. To address this challenge, you can use Simcenter Amesim in combination with a finite element tool to obtain a reduced model. This is a major enhancement we focus on to reinforce this Simcenter Amesim solution.


Thus, Simcenter Amesim offers co-simulation capabilities with Altair Flux and JMAG-RT. Moreover,  recently released Simcenter Amesim 17 supports the import of reduced Simcenter SPEED models, as you can see in the following video:




What is the value for the Simcenter Amesim Electric Motors and Drive solution users? 

They can now smoothly pass from a finite element model to a system simulation model without spending hours trying to understand the different software conventions, developing or maintaining complex scripts.


The link with other Simcenter solutions such as Simcenter SPEED, Simcenter Motorsolve and Simcenter MAGNET will be continuously strengthened in the upcoming Simcenter Amesim versions. 

Neural networks & digital twins change the O&M in the wind industry

Today wind power represents 4.4% of the total generated power. By 2030, this is to increase up to 20%. The challenges for wind turbine manufacturers are wide-ranging: the aerodynamic performance of the blades, reduce weight, keep noise and vibration levels under control, ensure a durable design and improve its overall system performance.


The gearbox is the most critical part of the wind turbine. Either you send a technician up the turbine and do a manual check, or you attach sensors to the gearbox and monitor the results remotely on a computer. Both approaches work to anticipate failures and allow turbine owners to schedule for repairs. Obviously, this comes at a price. A high price. Can’t this be done more cost-effective?


Predicting the remaining useful lifetime of each wind turbine gearbox


Winergy, a global key provider for wind energy in Germany, teamed up with the Simcenter Engineering experts of Siemens PLM Software to estimate the remaining useful lifetime (RUL) of a complete wind park. Let’s be a bit more specific: 78 wind turbines – 35 SCADA channels – historical data stored over 4 years.


The Simcenter Engineering specialists tackled this issue by combining 2 approaches:


  1. Neural Networks
    The neural network was fed with information from different SCADA channels on the gearbox in combination with service data. Gearbox temperatures were defined as the most representative signals for a possible failure. Next, the neural network was trained on how a turbine reacts in healthy and faulty conditions. Winergy and Simcenter experts used the technique to accurately predict and detect failures early on.

  2. Digital Twin
    A digital twin makes the bridge between a virtual representation and the physical product. It helps to understand and predict product performance characteristics. Wind turbine modeling was combined with physical validation measurements in 1 turbine to validate the digital twin model. The digital twin model is fed with historic loads extracted from the SCADA in order to predict the remaining useful lifetime of the bearings and gear teeth in each gearbox.


This combined approach limits the need for physical prototypes, reduces development time, and improves the quality of the finalized product. 


Want to know more? Join us next week at the 11th Annual Offshore Wind Europe Conference & Exhibition in London, UK. Wim Hendricx, Simcenter Engineering expert for the Energy sector, will present this application case on November 28 at 9:20 AM.   




Interesting links:



Is this the electric vehicle that we’ve all been waiting for?

Uniti One is an EV that just makes more sense.

I have to confess: I have caught the Uniti fever. It all started last April when Werner Custers and I shot a little movie at the Uniti headquarters in Lund, Sweden, a hip university town about 30 minutes from Malmo. At this point, Uniti Sweden was still oozing that start-up vibe, but, unlike other stories I have followed over the years, the idea of the Uniti One, well, to paraphrase CEO Lewis Horne, it just made sense. Needless to say, I was hooked.



You probably noticed that Uniti One is a different kind of car. In a way, it is more of a driving experience than an automobile. Sure, it is a completely wired EV with four wheels, but it is designed for the new era of high-tech car ownership that includes things like car-sharing, subscription programs and possibly delivery-on-the-spot autonomous programs.


Uniti One Fleet _ Photo by Karl-Fredrik von Hausswolff.jpg


Definitely “not reinventing the wheel”

But the cool thing about Uniti is that the team didn’t stop with just reinventing the EV. Everything was up for disruption in the design and development chain. Need your NX model in VR? Just run it through a gaming engine and put on the VR goggles to see what happens. Forget the formal post-design feedback groups. Just put the car in a well-known electronics retailer for a while and ask to-be consumers what they really think. This disruption meant that the team moved fast – really fast.


A key secret to the speedy design process was the fact that Uniti adopted the digital twin idea from day one. The working digital twin, based on NX and Simcenter, was one of the main reasons that a very small team of young engineers could prototype three vehicles in four short months.


So what’s next?

After its start-up success, the team knew they had to change gears, roll up their sleeves and work on a production-ready version of Uniti One. They also knew they needed some serious automotive experience on the engineering side. This is why Sally Povolotsky recently joined Uniti.


As the Uniti Vehicle Development Director, she is working with her team of experienced automotive engineers at Uniti’s new R&D center in the High-Performance Technology and Motorsport (HPTM) cluster located around Silverstone, the iconic British F1 Grand Prix track. With some serious street cred in the EV and automotive industry, Sally knows what it takes to get a car on the roads of Europe and beyond. (See the attached pdf for the full story.)


Uniti One _ small _ Photo by Karl-Fredrik von Hausswolff.jpg


Save the planet

So with Uniti One shaping up nicely and an Industry 4.0 digital factory vision in place, Lewis Horne and the Uniti team seem to have their new automotive ecosystem literally on the right track towards a workable and sustainable future. From our side, we will definitely keep our eyes on events in the UK and Sweden for you. To be continued…


P.S. By the way, if you caught the Uniti fever as well: you can pre-order yours online for 149 euro at uniti.earth.







“Using Solid Edge with synchronous technology I can actually do many more iterations now that I wasn’t able to do before. And because of that, the cost of the product comes down. The weight of the product comes down. The performance goes up. The warranty is a lot longer. Quality loves it. We love it. The profit margin loves it.”
John Winter , Mechanical Engineering Manager, Bird Technologies
“Siemens’ synchronous solver overcomes the order dependencies that have plagued history-based CAD programs by solving for the explicit and inferred constraints at the same time. The synchronous solver doesn’t use a history tree, but rather holds user-defined constraints in groups associated with the surfaces to which they apply…Ultimately, though, I believe this to be a transformative technology – one that represents an important inflection point in the CAD industry. If you hear someone say ‘that’s nothing new,’ don’t believe them. Synchronous technology is a big deal.”
Evan Yares, CAD Industry Analyst
“Synchronous technology breaks through the architectural barrier inherent in a history-based modeling system,” “Depending on model complexity and how far back in the history that edit occurs, users will see dramatic performance gains. A 100 times speed improvement could be a conservative estimate.”
Dr. Ken Versprille, PLM Research Director, CPDA
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