The Manufacturing Maintenance Balancing Act

In a 2006 Nielsen study1, auto industry manufacturing executives reported that stopped production costs averaged $22,000 per minute or $1.3 million per hour of downtime. When surveyed, 53% of the manufacturers agreed that predictive and preventative maintenance was the key to reducing this loss of productivity and revenue. So, what is the best practice for determining how to maintain and operate your manufacturing line to optimize productivity and maximize revenue?

Most engineers can agree that industrial equipment is designed to operate safely within a certain range of conditions, and in a perfect world, would be operated within its predetermined limits. But often, the designed-for conditions and actual operating conditions are worlds apart. This gap between “as designed” and “as operated” often ends with one or more of the following: premature failure, unanticipated downtime, unplanned maintenance, productivity losses, unexpected repair and replacement costs, and lost revenue.

VEXTEC Virtual Life Management TM (VLM) technology predicts the durability of manufactured products by aggregating all the various data sets that describe the product and its behavior. Traditional design analysis today accounts for some of these data, for instance, by looking at the stress imparted on a component. However, stress data alone, is not enough to predict durability which is a function of the materials reaction to that stress. This is what differentiates VLM from traditional methods. By relating all the data that describes the product in one computationally robust platform, VEXTEC VLM simulators give engineers the ability to see how material processing variation, design changes, or changes in the operating conditions affect component durability.

Click here for a case study where an industrial manufacturing company hired VEXTEC to conduct a root failure analysis of their manufacturing line and to evaluate corrective actions to repair the failure and maintain the equipment. The manufacturer estimated that in this one project, VEXTEC saved them over $700,000 in capital investments.

If you would like to evaluate and optimize your manufacturing production or would just like more information on the VLM technology, contact us


1 The 2006 study by Nielsen Research is based on 101 manufacturing executives in the automotive industry

How Missile Defense Technology Is Advancing Health Care

VLM helps bring safe and effective devices to the patient sooner.

VLM helps bring safe and effective devices to the patient sooner.

The intersection of engineering fields yields a fertile breeding ground for new ideas. The combination of previously separate concepts lies at the heart of creativity and novelty. An increasing amount of these technological breakthroughs generate innovations with commercial potential.

A recent report  released by the US Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) entitled, “Healthy Innovation – Missile Defense Technologies Applied: Medical and Safety Solutions“, highlights how improvements in health care have been spawned in unexpected ways by missile defense technology development. Technologies developed by twenty different companies are highlighted. VEXTEC’s Virtual Life Management® (VLM®) technology has been identified as one such technology which has multi-disciplinary application. VLM improves product safety and reliability using computer simulation. The simulation software tools predict damage over time to help engineers build better products. The need for early prediction of product safety exists for many industries, from weapons systems to medical devices.

Several medical device companies such as Boston Scientific have used VLM to simulate bench testing of stents and electrical leads. The medical device market is a demanding commercial market since the reliability of an implanted device can be a life-or-death issue. VLM affords medical device makers the capability to make design decisions before extensive physical testing and prototyping. VLM helps companies reduce the time and cost of product development and certification while supporting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goals of getting effective and safe treatments to patients more quickly.


VEXTEC to Participate in Inaugural Medical Devices Special Interest Group Planning Meeting

BMES_10.2014Oct. 18, 2014BRENTWOOD, Tenn.The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) is launching the Medical Devices Special Interest Group (SIG). VEXTEC’s Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni, has been invited to participate in the inaugural SIG planning meeting to be held on October 23rd at the BMES Annual Meeting in San Antonio. Click to read full article.

VEXTEC Helps Develop Verification and Validation for Computational Modeling of Medical Devices

S.Kulkarni_Bio_PicOct. 16, 2014BRENTWOOD, Tenn.On October 21 and 22, ASME’s V&V 40 Standard sub-committee will meet to finalize the “Verification and Validation of Computational Modeling of Medical Devices” standard. VEXTEC’s Vice President of Sales & Business Development, Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni will be in attendance.  Click here to read the full article

VEXTEC Founders to Attend 2014 Southern Automotive Conference

VEXTEC is attending the Southern Automotive Conference Oct. 9 – 10, 2014

Oct. 6, 2014BRENTWOOD, Tenn.VEXTEC’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Robert Tryon and Chief Product Development Office, Dr. Animesh Dey, will be attending the 2014 Southern Automotive Conference, October 9 – 10 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama

At the conference on Thursday Oct 9th at 2:15, a panel presentation will be hosted by ArcelorMittal and Kia on “The Innovation Imperative” to discuss a study that stressed the need to innovate close to the production lines to incorporate essential technologies faster. The Brookings Institute conducted a study in 2013 titled, “DRIVE! Moving Tennessee’s Automotive Sector Up the Value Chain” which discussed the need for the South to transform its automotive manufacturing base into an definitive “advanced industry.” One of the challenges identified in the study is insufficient private research & development (R&D) resources and shortage of collaborative technology development throughout the Southern auto supply chain. This panel will explore novel approaches to identifying technology needs and to improving the ability to innovate locally.

VEXTEC is a local company in Nashville, Tennessee that has received over $25 million in Federal R&D funding specifically for advancing the manufacturing production lines of durable goods. With this funding, they have developed methods known as Virtual Life Management® (VLM®), and obtained seven patents along the way. VEXTEC now provides services in the areas of production line reliability, risk assessment and durability prediction for manufacturing companies of structural, mechanical and electronic products. At the Southern Automotive Conference Dr. Tryon and Dr. Dey will be looking for manufacturers who could benefit from this technology. Both will be available after conference hours for detailed discussions.


Building Brand Loyalty While Delivering Better Products

recall graphicAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year the auto industry recalled close to a third more vehicles in the U.S. (22 million) than it sold (just over 15 million). Recalls were up by a staggering 25 percent during 2013, which is the industry’s highest rate since 2004. It is no shock that these recalls can do immense harm to a manufacturer. In the automotive industry, an early response to an emerging issue can save a tremendous amount of money, and help preserve a business’s reputation.

Today’s manufacturing companies face a significant challenge as they work to balance the demands of the marketplace for better performing products against the need to bring new products to market faster, cheaper and with greater reliability all while improving the customers overall experience. In fact, in a recent article by Warranty Week, their data indicates warranty costs stabilized last year (for the first time in a decade) and questions if manufacturers are beginning to put more emphasis on the overall customer experience.

Since product failures stem directly from a combination of inferior product quality and how the product is used by the customer in the “real world,” manufacturers are faced with almost an impossible task. It is not feasible to physically test for the full range of customer experiences and usage scenarios. So, what is a manufacturer to do?

The answer is computational simulation. By improving modeling, simulation and utilizing computational testing of products before launch or at the first indication there may be a problem, manufacturers can help avoid expensive product recalls or get in front of a looming problem and deliver a better experience to their customer. That is where Virtual Life Management® (VLM) comes into play.  With VLM®, manufacturers can evaluate designs, material alternatives and the full statistical distribution of how the product could be used by the customer. VLM provides a more meaningful way of predicting customer experience and warranty expenses than traditional reliability projection methods alone while reducing physical testing requirements and cost.

An article published by WIRED Magazine discusses product recalls by US manufacturers and how computational simulation tools such as VEXTEC’s VLM helps companies overcome these challenges throughout a product’s life cycle. Over the past twelve years, VLM has simulated changes in design, material processing, and usage scenarios on over 100 successful projects for commercial and government clients. Using VLM, clients have resolved in-service reliability issues, and accelerated product development processes for a variety of fatigue and corrosion applications at substantially lower costs than traditional testing methods.

It is clear that today’s brands require a warranty solution that reduces costs and increases the customer’s lifetime value. VLM has the technology to deliver that solution.

Do you have a challenge that you would like to overcome or mitigate? If so, contact VEXTEC to see how VLM can help you.

Live Webcast of VEXTEC Presentation at ASME Advanced Design and Manufacturing Impact Forum

VEXTEC’s Vice President of Business Development, Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni is an invited speaker at the ASME Advanced Design and Manufacturing Impact Forum 2014, August 17-20, 2014 at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center in Buffalo, NY. He will be presenting a talk entitled “Medical Devices & Life Sciences: Innovative Medical Device Prototyping – 3D Printing and Biocompatibility”. The presentation is one of five talks at the conference that will we be webcast live.

Computational Process Flow

VLM Computational Process Flow

Dr. Kulkarni will be discussing additive manufacturing (AM) which is the process of taking a digital representation of a part or component and directly manufacturing the resulting product using a three-dimensional fabrication technique. AM is still in the nescient stages, and as with any new technology, it brings with it the burden of certification, especially in the safety conscious medical device community. While common alloys are being developed, they are considered a new “product form” and therefore require all of the scrutiny and qualification as a new material. The AM process contains many variables that can be varied and there are multiple machines that have very similar elements, but produce statistically significant variations of product.  As such, it is critical to define the optimal process and, once established, properly characterize the material system in all structural categories sufficient for analysis and establishment of margins. Traditional test and evaluation methods for material certification for high safety applications can take decades and cost millions of dollars.

VEXTEC has integrated computational material engineering (ICME) software called Virtual Life Management® (VLM®)that can be used to directly simulate AM products and provide rapid accept/reject criteria early in the design stage and enable robust design philosophies to be incorporated. The method significantly lowers unit costs of AM products by reducing the high barrier to entry caused by the current certification test requirements. Manufacturers will be able to determine if new, less costly AM processes (or vendors) will provide a reliable product. A computational material simulation software that offers the ability to complete most of the component validation process with limited testing, will create a change in material science much the way FEA changed structural design.

Program topics include Design, Advanced Manufacturing, Additive Manufacturing, Aerospace, Automotive, Life Sciences & Medical Devices, Computer Aided Engineering and Robotics.  The webcast is on Tuesday, August 19, 2:20 to 3:10 p.m. (EST) and access is complimentary to anyone (Link:…).