Lego Industrial Models for Display
For the next fair, invest in an irresistible attraction
Taking part at a fair can be very expensive. Especially for companies that develop software, it is difficult to attract the attention of prospects and then communicate the value of their work to them through the usual boring video on a screen. There is nothing worse than wasting money and then being ignored because your stand is anonymous, boring, like many others.
But what should you do instead? There is a way, even if it seems incredible!
Read on, my story is almost unbelievable, and revolves around a programmable LEGO brick.
How my LEGO industrial model made the real machines disappear
I’ll tell you a true story. In 2010, I was working as an R&D engineer for an automated warehouse logistics company. We were going to participate to INTERPACK, the most important trade and packaging fair, and the company would have spent a lot of money on the set up of the stand: robotic cells for palletization and wrapping, big heavy automatic forklifts, food and wine, dancers/singers and other off-topic attractions.
I proposed to the CEO and the head of marketing to design and build a scale LEGO model of a small working warehouse logistics cycle, with a 4DOF anthropomorphic robot that would pick and place colored balls by dividing them by color into various gravity racks, and an automatic line following forklift (AGV) that would move the balls from the end to the beginning of the loop.
The CEO and owner were enthusiastic about it, the people in sales and marketing were like: “Real machines do sell, not your contraptions! To attract the public, we already have the singers and Italian food!”
In the end, I was given a month away from the usual R&D job to develop this scale plant using LEGO bricks, LEGO Technic elements, LEGO MINDSTORMS components and other electronics. This is the video I shot in the office at the end of the test before packing the model and sending it to the fair.
The LEGO warehouse was a stunning success at the fair
The people swarmed to admire with big eyes my LEGO prototype at work, ignoring the massive real machines (and the singers) that were just a few meters away!
It was embarrassing, because the marketing people were definitely annoyed by the unexpected success that my LEGO model was enjoying, which a few weeks earlier they did not hesitated to call a “toy”. Eventually, they came to recommend that I invite my audience to talk to them about closing any business deals. One of the company’s salespeople even proposed to become my agent! Incredible, but true.
It was this extremely positive experience that gave me the idea and the upsurge to start my own business to create automatic LEGO models on commission for all companies: hardware manufacturers or software developers.
Custom crafted LEGO scale reproductions of real industrial plants
For testing, simulations, marketing and promotion of your company at trade fairs or events, we create truly functional custom-made LEGO models that reproduce all kinds of industrial processes on a small scale: warehouse logistics, assembly of objects, painting, baking , stamping of metal parts. The models are working for real! The LEGO reproductions of real machines can work in stand-alone mode (fire and forget), or integrated and interfaced with your proprietary management software. Exhibiting your product made with LEGO at the fair could make a difference! We are not talking about large static LEGO sculptures, but working reproductions of real industrial plants made with LEGO.
For example, you may find an industrial LEGO model very useful for demonstrations or testing if your company develops software such as Industry 4.0 applications, Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), Product Development Process (PDP), Product Data Management (PDM), Product Life-cycle Management (PLM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), like SAP, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) or Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
A LEGO prototype saves the day
- Show off a prototype of a still non-existent machine at work
- Drastically cut the costs of transporting heavy machinery, renting an exhibition stand which is large enough to contain them
- Cost-effective solution to improve your presence at trade shows, , compared to the rental or transport of real machinery
- Showcase a working model of a real industrial plant that you might otherwise only show on video because it is big, heavy, bulky or expensive to take to the fair
- Train your employees on Industry 4.0 with a working detailed model without the need of real plants, avoiding potential damages in case of errors
- Each model can generate data from sensors and processing phases for subsequent analysis and process optimization
- You can test and demonstrate your UI/UX design applied on a working LEGO Industrial Models for Display
- Hassle-free installation and operation
- Complete troubleshooting documentation
- Easy interfacing with your own software
Services included with your custom LEGO prototype design
- Free 30-minute consultancy call to discover if your needs fit my services, no strings attached
- Low-cost initial feasibility study is amortized in the final cost
- Production and insured delivery of turnkey working LEGO model
- Remote and on-site model support
- Model customization and company branding (UV-printing on LEGO bricks)
- Realistic renderings of the custom LEGO models for your communication media
LEGO Car Factory, a fully automatic model of a manufacturing process
This LEGO Car Factory model is composed by three modules, and can assemble LEGO cars with selectable body and roof among three colors, thus creating 9 possible combinations. This Industrial Plant Manufacturing Model is controlled by a single controller, to which the LEGO MINDSTORMS servomotors, R/C servos, and GROVE sensors are attached. Newer versions of the factory use a distributed control, with a custom electronic board for each module. The model can communicates to your HMI (human-machine interface), Product Data Management (PDM) software , Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) software , Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software using a simple yet robust protocol. This LEGO prototype is ideal to generate data for an Industry 4.0 application.
Building LEGO cars in pipeline
Pipelining is a natural concept in everyday life, for example in an assembly line like this. Consider the assembly of a car: in the first module, the robot arm picks and places one of the chassis on the conveyor, then the body is installed and finally the roof. A car on the assembly line can have only one of the three steps done at once:
- chassis placement
- body assembly
- roof assembly
After the car has its chassis placed on the conveyor, it moves on to the next module to get its roof installed, leaving the chassis module available for the next car. The first car then moves on to roof installation module, the second car to body installation, and a third car begins to have its roof installed. If the factory could build only one car at a time, it would take about 1 minute to build each car. By using the pipeline, the factory outputs subsequent cars every 30 seconds, after the first car is assembled.
Meet the LEGO designer
My name is Daniele Benedettelli, I am a robotics engineer, known worldwide for his LEGO® MINDSTORMS® robotics creations. My Youtube channel counts more than 8 million views, and my robots have been demonstrated in several events and conferences, shown in TV shows (including RAI, SAT.1, National Geographic) all over the world since 2007. From 2006 to 2012 I collaborated with The LEGO Company as consultant and programmer to develop the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT EV3 products for educational robotics.
The past experiences as teacher and speaker include:
- Lecture for teachers and workshop for students “Using LEGO Education products for STEM” at Lakeside Edu Lab, Klagenfurt, Austria (7-8 Nov 2019)
- Teachers training for MINDBRICKX, Male, Maldives (25-29 March 2018)
- Lecture about educational robotics @ Memorial University, St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (25 July 2014)
- Robot Show @ EMP Museum, Seattle, WA, USA (20 July 2014)
- LEGO MINDSTORMS Programming workshop @ Saint Augustine, Florida, USA, during the Bricks4Kidz annual conference meeting (11 November 2013)
- Keynote speaker and workshop holder @ 6th Annual Exploring ICT in Education (College of North Atlantic, Qatar, 2-4 March 2013).
- Seminar “Learning Robotics in the Open Source era” @ AMA International University (Salmabad, Baharain, 25 Nov 2011);
- Robotics lecture host @ Australian College of Kuwait (23 November 2011)
- Opening speaker @ WRO 2011 International Symposium of Robotics in Education (18 November 2011, Abu Dhabi);
I wrote five books on educational robotics. My LEGO portfolio includes autonomous robots, control systems, AI-enabled unsupervised learning robots, LEGO Industrial Plants Models; LEGO RUBIK UTOPIA, the first LEGO MINDSTORMS robot that could solve a 3×3 Rubik’s cube in less than a minute (2007); LEGONARDO, an half-bust automaton that can draw live portraits (2009); Cyclops, a complex robot that can walk, gesticulate, talk, act, understand speech and interact with people, remote controllable using an upper-body LEGO exoskeleton (2011); Duck Maker, a duck robot that can replicate itself, laying eggs containing ever-different chicks built with 6 LEGO bricks (2014). In 2018, I started building purely mechanical LEGO automata for fun: one can play a tune on a glockenspiel, and others can perform magic tricks, and even draw!
I work as a freelance LEGO designer, making models on commission for international education companies that hold summer camps, extra-scholastic courses and laboratories (Bricks4Kidz, BrainVyne, Create & Learn and others). For international companies and research institutions (Elettric80, CEA LIST, Hermes Reply, ABB Robotics) I realized detailed working scale models of automatic industrial plants: LEGO Car Factory (for CEA LIST, 2015), a desktop scale model of a car factory, used as a test bench for the Papyrus software; LEGO Car Factory (for Hermes Reply, 2016); a set of LEGO peripherals to integrate with a real PLC and robot in a robotic cell model that simulates the metal stamping process (ABB Robotics, 2016).