Interview with Diego Barone, R&D Project Leader at Vin Service
Vin Service was founded in 1976 by enologists Riccardo Guadalupi and Daniela Gennaro Guadalupi, based on the revolutionary idea of supplying quality wine, in large quantities, fastand … on tap.
The first Italian manufacturers of draft-wine dispensers, the company steadily grew and became one of the world’s leaders in dispenser technology, serving large international brands such as Heineken, Pilsner Urquell, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Carlsberg, Budweiser and many others. Today, the core business of Vin Service is in the dispensing equipment industry from soft drinks to draught beer, and in cooling systems for beverages. Some of Vin Service’s main bespoke solutions for the beverage industry include plug&play dispensers with disposable PET kegs, and innovative Peltier technology for draught beer and soft drink towers.
Vin Service is constantly innovating and improving its processes in order to ensure it provides its clients with the best made-in-Italy, customized dispensing solutions. Its expert R&D division is staffed by mechanical engineers and a CAD 3D designer, and equipped with 3D printers and a certified in-house lab for testing.
1) When did you first introduce the use of simulation in your company?
In 2011 we had to develop a new product for a very important customer and, to be more competitive, we decided to replace low-pressure, die-cast brass with injection-molded plastic. The budget for the molds was big enough to justify doing a simulation-based design and virtual prototyping upfront. After this first experience, it was easy to adopt these techniques every time a project was big enough or complex enough.
2) What was the main reason for introducing simulation?
Trial-and-error and design-over are old-school approaches that have no place in today’s super-competitive, globalized industrial market. Our company is growing fast and had to transform to be accepted by global customers as a world-class manufacturing company.
3) What kind of products are you using simulation for?
Currently we’re mainly doing validation of mechanical design and exploration of design alternatives according to customized load-cases or norms and standards. For example, we have recently explored a design alternative for cost reduction, reducing the number of parts while maintaining the same structural resistance of a beer countertop cooler.
4) How does simulation affect your design process?
Currently, we are still working to transform our design process into a true simulation-based approach. We currently partner with external CAE providers, and in particular with EnginSoft, on a case-by-case basis. Replacing the old empirical approach with computer simulations has allowed us to significantly speed up and simplify our design process, enabling an 80% reduction in development time (from 12 weeks to 2-3 weeks) and a 70% reduction in project costs.
5) Do you have any plans to extend the use of simulation in your company?
We’re offering simulation-based design in every proposal we issue to our customers in order to increase demand and justify the introduction of internal resources. The next step will be to expand the use of structural and CFD analyses on a regular basis in our R&D workflow to accelerate the feasibility assessment of new designs.
6) What contribution does EnginSoft make to you?
At EnginSoft, we find experts with many cumulative years of experience in all industries and we rely on them according to the variable needs of our customers. During the past 6 years, EnginSoft has been a strategic partner in the innovation of our products, from the improvement of the mechanical performance of our beverage dispensers to the introduction of new cost-effective materials.
7) What value has simulation brought to your company?
Faster time-to-market, better in-depth analysis of design alternatives, virtual prototyping, process and product cost reduction… these are only some of the numerous advantages that simulation has brought to our company. For example, switching to a simulation-guided approach allowed us to introduce the new Plug&Play, maintenance-free dispensers for PET kegs. This innovative technique enhanced our company’s perception among our customers and provided us with a competitive advantage which helped Vin Service to win other highly rewarding projects.
Newsletter EnginSoft Year 14 n°2
Vin Service and EnginSoft: a six-year history of innovation
1. The first collaboration started in 2011, when a new CO2-free dispenser was added to the Vin Service product portfolio. This new countertop dispenser adopts a pressure chamber to dispense cold beer without an external CO2 supply. The technological challenges, mostly related to pressure inside the chamber, were promptly solved thanks to simulations, which guaranteed the correct structural requirements for the given pressures.
2. From 2011 to 2016, five different column-shaped beer dispensers were analyzed and improved by EnginSoft, focusing on the mechanical resistance of the products. Innovative solutions were created by replacing the metallic body with fiber-reinforced polymers, thus ensuring both higher mechanical characteristics and lower material costs.
3. In addition, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations of the whole dispenser (from barrels to fins) were performed. The analyses quantified the effects of air heating on the thermal quality of the beer. The thermal efficiency of the dispenser was virtually tested and improved by reinforcing the insulation in selected areas, by reshaping the column, or by guiding the correct choice and positioning of the fans.
4. In 2014, structural simulations were conducted on a new plug&play countertop cooler with recyclable PET kegs, so that the product would meet the customer’s requirements. This activity evaluated the stability of the refrigerator and determined the correct sizing of the geometries and the choice of materials to minimize the stresses and deformations of the structure.
5. In 2016, the plug&play countertop cooler with recyclable PET kegs was further improved by integrating mechanical and thermal performance and esthetics into a single piece, i.e. the door. This innovation allowed us to significantly reduce production costs by minimizing the number of parts to produce and by lowering the complexity of the assembly.
6. The most recent innovation is the improvement of the original CO2-free countertop beer dispenser. Structural simulations were expanded to include thermal and fatigue analyses, plus the effects of the aging of the plastic materials. High stress regions were identified and modifications in the insulating layer were suggested to improve thermal efficiency.