Founded in 1931, SEW-Eurodrive is one of the largest manufacturers of electric motors and gearmotors in the world. The company today has over 16,000 employees in over 47 countries producing a wide range of products, including reducers, motors, decentralized installation components, electronically controlled drives, variable speed mechanical gearmotors and others.
Thanks to a modular system, SEW enables the customer to have at their disposal various gearbox mounting combinations. This is a great feature for their clients, but they had an issue that needed to be dealt with.
When the customer chooses a gear unit, several options need to be chosen that compose the final unit. This assembly process takes place in five different steps.
That means that every time a client makes a choice, there is a different possible combination based on their selection. The problem was that SEW has over 1500 different combinations.
“Imagine grabbing an actual catalog and going thought all of the different parts or looking through all the different configurations on a printed table”, Said Sergio, a new business coordinator at Signia Digital.
On top of the amount of time spent doing that, any mistake made during this manual process could result in a combination that didn’t work. That’s where Signia Digital comes in!
When SEW contacted Signia, the initial plan was to develop an Augmented Reality app to show one of their products. However, after learning about how their assembly worked, Signia suggested an app that in addition to AR, had also a product configurator.
According to Sergio, “the project started small and it grew, as we understood SEW’s needs, we realized we could contribute much more than just building an AR app. Today, the app has many more functions such as e-mailing the product configuration to the company, taking and sharing product images, sending text messages, etc.”
The app was also developed to be used in three languages: English, German, and Portuguese. It is also multifunctional as it can be used by their sales teams as well as their clients so they can configure their products on their own.
How it works
Neemias Watzko, Signia’s Augmented Reality project coordinator, said that their team had three functionalities to build into one app
- Augmented Reality
- Product Configurator
- Reports of how many and what combinations were made based on geolocalization.
To better understand how the app works, Neemias explains that when users access it, they’ll have three options; go to straight to Augmented Reality, view the product catalog or configure a product.
When it comes to product configuration, according to Neemias, with the AR app installed on a mobile device, SEW’s sales teams as well as their clients, will be able to configure products by pointing the device to their sales catalog. The user will go through the stages of:
- Input Selection
- Planetary Selection
- Output Selection
- Accessories Selection
- Size Selection
After confirming the assembly configurations of your product, you’ll then be able to view it on the mobile device’s screen. Thanks to 3D animation, the internal components move so all of the details can be analyzed as if was physically there in front of the user.
According to Neemias, “there is a lot of physics behind the animation that the user is seeing on their mobile device. SEW told us the transfer speed of each component. However, each movement seen in the app corresponds 100% to the actual movement the user would see if they saw the motor working in the real-word”.
According to Neemias, one of the challenges of the project was regarding the languages the app were going to published in: “along with Portuguese, we had to develop interfaces that could be used both in English, that uses shorter words, and in German that uses much longer words”.
Another challenge was the product configurator itself. “We received various images and tables to better understand how each item worked and fit. For example, if at one of the stages the person chooses component A, in the next stage, he/she would only be able to choose the components that are compatible with the previous choice. Programming these rules and exceptions resulted in over 1500 lines of code. We had to take extra care and double our attention so as not to have any errors” said Gustavo Dietrich, Augmented Reality developer at Signia.
The geolocalization report also posed a special challenge to Signia’s team. Initially, after the product was configured, the user would be directed to a website to obtain more information and finish the purchase.
But, during the development of the report, we discovered that for some products, the user wasn’t being directed to the website, because those products were considered “custom”.
“We came to an agreement with SEW that product would have to go to a website. When a product is not “custom”, the user is directed to the SEW page. When it’s a custom product, it is directed to an internal website created by Signia. This allows SEW to have an accurate report of the number of products and the locations they were ordered from.”
Final impressions of the project
According to Neemias, this was one of the most robust apps developed by Signia so far. “For the user, the app is very simple and easy to use, but the complexity and coding of the functionalities was a great challenge and it took a lot of effort. Seeing the app running and know the impact that it will have to SEW units around the globe, makes us proud and leaves us with that feeling of mission accomplished”.
Sergio also shares the same feeling. According to him; “the challenges and the changes suggested during our production process resulted in an amazing job done by our entire team. Especially because we were able to show that we have the ability to change and improve a project as many times as needed to deliver to our clients something that will truly bring value to their company and make them proud”.
Here are some videos and more images of the app:
Account Manager – Sérgio A. Silva
UI/UX – Marcus Vinicius
3D Animation – Cadu Puccini
3D Modeling and Texturing – Rafael Nicolazzi
3D Modeling and Animation – Márcio Engelke