Hannover University

The earth's flora digitized with DELMIA V6 for Academia

"Herbar Digital" (digital herbarium) is the name of one of the more unusual projects conducted by the University of Hanover. It involves creating a photo-realistic digital representation of herbarium pressings (pressed & dried plants or plant parts) so that they may be accessed by botanical institutes and museums around the world. The University uses DELMIA V6 to calculate and simulate the entire process, including the ergonomic analysis.


With more than 500 million manually-prepared herbarium pressings in existence worldwide, digitizing them represents a major challenge. The plant parts that are pressed on an A3 sheet of paper can be over 30 mm thick. And since the dried plants are very fragile, it is preferable during the digitization process that only skilled workers load and unload them.

Based on the extensive knowledge gained by working on projects for a variety of industries, the University of Hanover embarked on an ambitious program to develop a complete digital process model of this digitization process that includes the human-operated input station and the entire automatic digital processing activity. In order to ensure that the digital experience imitates the most efficient herbaria digitization process in real life, various industrial production workflows were analyzed in depth beforehand [Figure 1]. One objective was to reduce the cost of capturing each individual page from its current level of 20 USD down to 2 USD.

Challenge Solution Benefits
To develop a process model for a standardized, cost-effective and photo-realistic digital capture and documentation of herbaria. “DELMIA - part of V6 for Academia – is used to calculate and simulate the entire process, including the ergonomic analysis. Process modeling with DELMIA makes it possible to test the feasibility, workflows and simulate worker movements throughout the entire process.

An efficient process in 20 seconds

Since the end of 2011, the University of Hanover has been using a new camera that digitizes the herbarium pressings and stores them in two seconds. To be cost effective, the University calculated that the entire workflow, including loading and unloading, must not take more than 20 seconds. The ergonomics of the operator’s workflow and surroundings had to be considered, without which the required timing would not be realistic.

"This challenging project is currently being implemented in collaboration with industrial partners,” says Professor August Potthast, Head of the Digitale Fabrik Laboratory. “One of them is Dassault Systèmes. Its DELMIA V6 technology is essential to calculating and simulating the most optimum solution, which includes the ergonomics related to the worker’s movements," he explains.

The research project uses DELMIA V6 Ergonomics as well as "Methods-Time Measurement" (MTM). This Measurement methods takes into account factors such as the time spent on a specific step and ergonomic perspectives such as the reach envelope, reach conditions and movement pathways. The entire process workflow is then simulated and verified using DELMIA V6.

The end-to-end digitization process begins once the barcode of a herbarium pressing has been scanned. The entire process workflow is then launched automatically and the amount of time required to complete the operation can be calculated. One of the requirements was to synchronize the operation of the special CNC rotary table with the camera. DELMIA was used to virtually simulate the CNC rotary table so as to test the feasibility, workflows and simulate worker movements throughout the entire process

Experiences that respond to today’s realities

"Digital manikins move like in reality in DELMIA V6," says Prof. Potthast. “In addition, they are distinguished by different genders, populations and anthropometry in an immersive 3D environment. This allows us to take into consideration gender-specific differences. It helps us reproduce, in a virtual context, what each category is likely to experience during the actual digitization process. The issue of ergonomics takes on an entirely new dimension.”

With the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA) analysis, work-related upper limb disorder risks can be checked with DELMIA’s ergonomics capabilities using variables such as weight, distance and movement frequency. While the CNC rotary table was set up, DELMIA was used to effectively map and simulate all of the requirements with a 3D human model. This allowed the research team to very quickly design the workflow for an efficient digitization “in series” and to simultaneously customize the workstation to satisfy individual requirements. By incorporating health and safety standards into the virtual model it was possible to design the most comfortable workstation, which has a positive impact on operator productivity.

“V6 for Academia” is an integral part of the university curricula

At the University of Hanover, the V6 for Academia solutions are an integral part of the educational offering. "Part of our teaching strategy is to emphasize the advantages of collaborative engineering or the ability to work on the same product data from various locations in a networked manner. These, as well as the simple representation of process workflows and model links, are just some of the advantages of the Version 6 solutions,” explains Prof. Potthast. “Version 6 also provides an excellent platform for our research work, such as the "RULA" analysis of physical exertion in all kinds of postures and movement sequences. Students also use other DELMIA solutions such as DELMIA Manufacturing for a number of industrial projects during their studies.”

Part of the University of Hanover’s strategy is to offer its students online courses through an efficient e-learning program. The e-learning offering provided by the DS University is perfectly in sync with this strategy. The University of Hanover benefits from Dassault Systèmes’ Version 6 classes that it simply needs to adapt to its particular needs.

When it came to choosing a partner, the University of Hannover selected CENIT because of its excellent technical experience with Version 6 and DELMIA. CENIT was responsible for the implementation and training of the 3DS solutions.