A virtual twin experience set to save time, money and environment

Dassault Systèmes is a French company that has a solid history in the aerospace and defence industries but now serves 11 industries including consumer packaged goods and retail. Dassault Systèmes’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform is fast becoming the catalyst and enabler of today’s global transformation in sustainable packaging.
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a platform for knowledge, a game-changing collaborative environment that empowers businesses and people to innovate in an entirely new way.
The platform powers various Dassault Systèmes brands across many industries. As a system of operations, it allows businesses to innovate with operational excellence from idea to modelling and simulation to market delivery and usage. For example, it empowers innovators to design and test packaging design in the virtual world, making traditional physical prototypes almost extinct.
Dassault Systèmes, Consumer Package Good & Retail (CPGR) industry solution director, Walid Darghouth, is a champion of the platform, and once you get into the nitty gritty of how it works, you can see why.
Italy-based Darghouth believes one of the key aspects of the platform that users will notice almost immediately is its collaborative nature.
“The value of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is about the ability to empower collaboration. It allows everyone involved in a project – from the research lab to the factory to the consumer – to interact and work together,” he said. “Utilising the platform as business model, you’re able to coordinate collaboration and communication between stakeholders during the packaging development and production stages. As a result, it enables businesses to improve their processes, apply knowledge and know-how at a faster rate and become more competitive.”
So, how does it work? Being online, the platform provides a model-based system for better collaboration. All teams work together on the same data model, and are able to access the right type and level of information according to their function. Project managers use the same set of data that the packaging engineers are using, which is also connected to the data used by the simulation and manufacturing teams. The platform makes it easier to manage projects and keep data consistent. Everyone has the most up-to-date information at their fingertips and can see how one change impacts another team’s work.
“It is also key to note that the research and development made can be stored and searched for across multiple sites,” said Darghouth. “For example, if I am a designer based in Europe and I want to know if a sustainable bottle cap design exists or if there was a similar project started by colleagues in the USA or Australia, before I start, I can search on the system to access the latest project data. With that I am able to collaborate with the overseas colleague on new ideas or further develop that concept and bring it to fruition and not have to start from scratch.”
Another key feature is having full visibility project development data on one platform. Apart from the obvious time savings, it will also help with legacy of knowledge and know how.
“If you don’t have a platform where you manage everything in one place; how sure are you that you are able to connect the dots between people, idea and data?” said Darghouth. “What the platform is capable of doing is to help our customers integrate everything we have all the information on one platform and ensure that ideas and development are shared across all users.”
In a world where getting products to market quickly has become crucial in the global market, turnaround times can also be a bugbear.
“What we are seeing today is pressure from the market for speed,” said Darghouth. “You have to innovate quickly. Often, when we do a physical test of a packaging design it can take up to six months and that doesn’t include the product inside. Add that and it can take a lot longer.
“When it comes to packaging design, it’s also about primary packaging, secondary packaging and tertiary packaging. When you experience a fail in one of those steps using a physical prototyping, you are forced to start from the beginning again, further delaying your product launch. Imagine how much time you will need each time you have to do it again and again?
“The virtual twin experience enables packaging specialists to create a 3D model of the packaging design in real world settings, and cut down on physical testing by using simulation to ensure that the packaging holds up throughout its entire lifecycle and evaluate the reliability and safety of packaging designs before committing to physical prototypes. It also allows designers to study and understand any mistakes in the virtual environment – something physical testing does not allow for – as well as test different material composition to determine the best option for sustainable packaging. With the processes being done virtually on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, it also reduces the use of precious natural resources and costs, normally associated with development.”
Sustainable innovation lies at the heart of the industry and will be the primary driver of innovation across all sectors of the economy and progress. Darghouth said that it is important to bring sustainable products out, but why not start at the beginning when a designer first starts the project. A digital platform provides end-to-end visibility of the whole process, from material selection, material specification through to distribution.
A topic Darghouth is passionate about is Artificial Intelligence (AI)/machine learning, which the 3DEXPERIENCE platform utilises. He believes that it is the future, and the sooner manufactures get on board, the sooner they will begin to realise that the old way of doing things will become redundant.
“We have capability in this [AI] space already and industrial systems, especially in the space of Consumer Packaged Goods” he said. “Even with packaging, it’s often a consideration of the material needed and how we can align sustainability gals and deliver designs consumers will love, and now expect, from manufacturers.”
He gives an example of a designing a beer container made out of cardboard. Because of the effervescent nature of beer, you can use machine learning and AI to predict how to best construct the material for the packaging container to withstand pressure from the carbonated drink without compromising the integrity and taste of the beer. Using a complete modelling and simulation environment designed to allow research in materials science, you can study the packaging materials itself so you could augment the material and take into account the effect the gas would have on the final product.
“We have ready solutions for both the packaging supplier side as well as the food and beverage manufacturer. With increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly products. It’s about helping manufactures innovate and start with the idea of how are you going to improve the existing material properties and the characteristics of the design model. It allows us to rely on a flexible data-driven approach in packaging development and improve how it is designed, how the products can be transported via the various channels and what is possible for the post-consumption experience. This is important in the approach to sustainable packaging.”
Like any platform that is a game changer, one of the aspects that needs addressing is ease of use. Talk about AI, machine learning and Cloud solutions make it seem like there is a lot going on in terms of getting the platform up and running. Not so, said Darghouth.
“It’s easy to use. It has an interface which is intuitive where I can easily create my own collaborative space so I can share different ideas with my peers,” he said. “When I show a customer how to use it, they can immediately start playing with it and feel confident with it. On the Cloud we have dedicated applications that have been built in and is an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution. It already has the capabilities and best practices of the industry built inside. We are always fine-tuning our solution,” Darghouth added. “Updates, adding new features by listening to our customers and understanding their needs.”
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform has local support from Dassault Australia, and it is not lost on Asia Pacific South Marketing Manager Chad Lim that even before the pandemic and the lockdowns that have occurred in various states, the size of Australia meant that the platform is ideal for companies who have a footprint in the various states.
“We have received feedback from customers saying how simple it was for them to collaborate from their own homes using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The virtual world knows no silos. To ensure the best outcome, there must be a strong link from ideation all the way to production. Having a digital thread throughout the design and manufacturing process is essential for today’s CPG manufacturers.”
Darghouth thinks that the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to packaging technology, and that Dassault Systèmes will provide companies with the advantage of bringing successful products to the market faster and with an end-to-end approach to sustainability. This supports a positive impact on consumers, the environment and to the business.

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