Global Material Handling System Integrators

The Lipstick and Rouge behind the Material Handling Industry

I have the privilege of being surrounded by very bright, brilliant, and talented individuals on a daily basis. They take complicated problems associated with the material handling industry, and come up with amazing engineered solutions to those problems.  Those engineered solutions are then most commonly expressed in some sort of technical document along with an engineering drawing. Within that drawing, exists brilliance and beauty; however, not everyone has the ability to see that, which is where the lipstick and rouge come in. Wikipedia states, "the adage 'a picture is worth a thousand words' refers to the idea that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly." For those of us who are less technically minded, we need a little help to fully understand what is represented in an engineering drawing, which is why the majority of our industry utilizes renderings and animations.  With these tools, everyone from the company CEO, to the warehouse manager, to the head of maintenance can understand and visualize a material handling system concept.

The Process

When creating a rendering or animation, your initial step is to partner with that highly intelligent engineering individual who can provide you with the first technical (and extremely brilliant) document on the system. Also, in an effort to help me know and understand the proposed solution, the engineer typically--through words and technical imagery--provides the first picture of the system, an engineering drawing. In the example below, the complex solution shown is for moving product in, around, and out of a distribution center in California.
[caption id="attachment_4247" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="An engineering drawing is the first step in visualizing a material handling concept."]Engineering Drawing of a Distribution Center[/caption]
The second step is to take the vision above and convert it into a rendering using one of a variety of tools. In this day and age, the 3D-modeling software of choice might be 3D Studio Max by Autodesk, Sketch Up by Google, Solidworks, CATIA by Dassault, or even more specific software for the material handling industry such as Tarakos, SmartPlant, AutoMod, or Simio. In addition, and this step is optional, you can take your rendering into a graphics program and add titles, text, backgrounds, and other images to create an illustration. These additional elements provide that extra step in helping the end user get a better understanding of the system. Once you've completed the rendering and/or illustration, the beauty within the engineering drawing starts to reveal itself and be seen and understood by more than just the technically minded. Believe it or not, the image below is representing the exact same thing as the image above.
[caption id="attachment_4249" align="aligncenter" width="455" caption="A 3D rendering provides an even better visual of the same system."]Distribution Center Rendering[/caption]
Here are some other examples of this same system...
Engineering Drawing for a DC Distribution Center Rendering 2
Engineering Drawing for a DC - 2 Distribution Center Rendering 3
Finally, for the ultimate visual aid, you can string together many pictures and create an animation.  This provides a complete view of the material handling system, or as I like to call it, the intelligent solution that lies within. The animation below showcases the various areas within the renderings above.  For someone who does not typically interact with engineering or technical documents, this form of visualization would be much easier to understand.
These renderings and animations might or might not be worth a thousand words, but they do provide the necessary visual aid needed to help clients see and understand the material handling systems and concepts at hand.  Although the beauty of the system can be seen through that first engineering drawing, renderings and animations provide the extra visualization needed to communicate a concept easily and effectively.

Author: Margie Schramke


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