Approaching LCR 4.0
Mitoji was looking to design and create an innovative and simple hitch mounted motorcycle carrier for transporting them easily and safely. The “Mitoji Hitch” is required to offer ease of use and abide by all regulations and laws. The company wished to engage with the University of Liverpool through the LCR 4.0 programme to speed up the product development process and explore the application of rapid virtual prototyping tools.
Through LCR 4.0, Mitoji was given access to the Virtual Engineering Centre’s (VEC) specialist simulation technologies to help accelerate the design and prototyping of the Mitoji Hitch. The VEC created a Computer Aided Design (CAD) of the product, and also helped to determine a workflow strategy that would allow the model to be used for Finite Element Analysis (FEA). This gave the company the tools to refine and optimise the final product’s strength durability and weight.
The VEC also drew on its knowledge within the automotive sector to ensure the design was compatible with regulation and safety practices, allowing for more informed design decisions to be made.
Within the space of a few weeks, Mitoji has been able to go from initial concept to physical prototype. The VEC’s CAD and simulation software coupled with Mitoji’s detailed insight and knowledge of the target market has enabled it to introduce a new product to the towing equipment market, which is forecast to grow by 6.13 per cent during the period 2017-2021.
The VEC also provided Mitoji with a model suitable for FEA and helped it conclude which simulation technologies could be used to accelerate business growth. This enabled it to rapidly create a virtual model, with faster in-depth analysis and decision making. It will also ensure that the first physical prototype of the product can be created quickly and with less risk.
Working to the Future
The company has already produced its first physical prototype with the support of the Birkenhead based LW Fabrications. Mitoji is now in the process of refining the look and feel of the prototype and is also engaging with the biker community to get focus market feedback as it begins to develop its marketing plan. It is also engaging directly with well-known automotive accessory stores and aftermarket manufacturers for additional input.
The VEC will continue to provide support to the company as it explores intellectual property protection for its design, and is also exploring the possible value of augmented reality as a tool to illustrate the USP of the Mitoji Hitch.