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Robot Platform Development

Kuka Robot Palletiser

Unlocking Design Potential: The Benefits of Finite Element Analysis in Concept Testing

In the realm of product design and engineering, the ability to rapidly test and evaluate concept designs is crucial to ensuring optimal performance, safety, and cost-effectiveness. One powerful tool that has revolutionised this process is Finite Element Analysis (FEA). By simulating real-world conditions and analysing the behaviour of complex structures, FEA empowers engineers to make informed decisions and refine their designs early in the development cycle. Here we explore the key principles and benefits of employing simulation methods in concept testing when developing a robot platform for a palletising system.

With the costs of produce ever increasing, the industry is driving to squeeze all non-value adding costs out of the price of goods. The automation sector is rapidly growing to meet this challenge with the aim of rapid installation of modular systems and short duration commissioning to maximise impact. Palletising of produce is just one area that non-value adding tasks can be streamlined.

Accurate Performance Prediction

One of the primary advantages of early adoption is its ability to accurately predict the performance of concept designs before physical prototypes are created. By dividing complex geometries into smaller elements and analysing their behaviour under various loading scenarios, we can simulate real-world conditions and generate detailed insights into how a design will perform. This empowers engineers to identify potential weaknesses, optimize structural integrity, and enhance overall performance. For welded structures the avoidance of stress hot spots and ensuring a suitable platform stiffness and life expectancy under cyclic loading and static loads are key to its success.

Small Robot platform displacement results from simulation of loads
Large Kuka Robot Platform analysis

Cost and Time Savings 

Traditional testing methods often involve the construction of physical prototypes, which can be expensive and time-consuming. In contrast, early analysis offers a cost-effective alternative by simulating virtual prototypes. This eliminates the need for extensive preliminary physical testing and reduces the number of design iterations required. Consequently, FEA significantly reduces product development time, allowing for faster time-to-market and increased efficiency. Typically to manufacture a welded structure would have a lead time of 4 to 6 weeks, within this timeframe several virtual prototypes can be and were tested without the need to carry out preliminary physical testing. The initial concept proved unsuitable based upon its life expectancy.

Design Optimization and Iteration 

These methods enable engineers to evaluate multiple design iterations quickly and efficiently. By manipulating variables such as material properties, dimensions, and loading conditions, designers can explore a wide range of design alternatives and evaluate their impact on performance. This iterative process allows for the identification of optimal solutions, leading to enhanced design quality and improved product performance.

Kuka Robot with Platform CAD image
Kuka Robot Palletiser


Ensuring the safety and reliability of a product is of paramount importance. Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis plays a vital role in this aspect by accurately predicting the structural response of a design under various operational conditions. Engineers can simulate extreme load scenarios, analyse stress concentrations, and identify potential failure points. By addressing these issues during the concept testing phase, this software helps enhance product safety, reduce the risk of failure, and improve overall reliability.

Improved Communication and Collaboration

CAE tools used generate visual representations of the stress, strain, and displacement distribution within a design. These visualisations provide valuable insights that can be easily communicated to stakeholders, including designers, clients, and manufacturing teams. The ability to present clear and concise analysis results facilitates effective collaboration, decision-making, and ensures everyone involved has a shared understanding of the design's behaviour.

Kuka Robot Palletiser

Finite Element Analysis (FEA) has revolutionised the concept testing phase in product design and engineering. By providing accurate performance predictions, reducing costs and development time, enabling design optimization, ensuring safety, and facilitating effective communication. Simulation software offers a comprehensive solution for evaluating and refining concept designs. By harnessing the power of early simulation, engineers can unlock the full potential of their designs, resulting in improved product quality and customer satisfaction.

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