Velavu provides comprehensive asset tracking solutions that can monitor vehicles, products, tools, people and any other operational component in real time with 24x7 visibility. Based in Ottawa, Canada, the company serves a wide range of commercial and industrial customers that manage complex asset ecosystems. Velavu offers both standard and custom solutions, using Autodesk Fusion for product development.
What sets the Velavu solution apart from its many competitors is its simplicity and flexibility. Unlike consumer-oriented tag-based trackers, Velavu is a stand-alone, industrial-grade solution that does not depend on personal phones to transmit asset locations. And unlike most industrial solutions, Velavu does not rely on GPS, which works very well for fleet tracking but loses accuracy indoors.
"GPS technology is also very power hungry, so the battery life of asset trackers in GPS solutions tends to be an issue," says Rob Shudra, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Velavu. "The Velavu solution is relatively low-powered, so some of our devices can track an asset for up to five years. Basically, you put the tracker on and forget about it while our system works in the background telling you everything you need to know."
Conceptually, the Velavu solution uses a mesh network to create a grid capable of finding and monitoring various assets, such as pallets, toolboxes, trucks, or technicians, regardless of their movement indoors, outdoors, or off-site. The software and mobile app use the collected data to trace asset movements, generate automated alerts and reminders, and facilitate a diverse array of analytical insights.
Choosing trusted tools
Velavu serves a wide range of customers in defense, healthcare, heavy industry, natural resources, transportation and logistics, and warehousing and distribution. While some customers choose the out-of-the-box Velavu solution, others require a more customized approach. This may involve a minor change to an existing product or the design of a new piece of hardware.
"We focus a great deal on de-risking the product development process," Shudra says. "There are a lot of risks involved in developing custom hardware, whether it's the PCB design, or tooling and parts not working as intended. And then we're trying to move as rapidly as we can. A big part of that is using tools you can trust."
One of those trusted tools that the team at Velavu relies on for every aspect of product design is Autodesk Fusion.
"Fusion really helps us minimize the risks inherent in product development, because we can do multiple simulations with any design and visualize how it will all come together," Shudra says. "That means we're more confident sending off the final files and moving into tooling. We know the surfacing will be good and the snap-fits will work properly. We've been very happy with Fusion throughout that process, and we trust it to do the job correctly."
Jumping into CAD workflow
For the Velavu team, the product design process typically starts with sketching on an iPad in a platform like Procreate — although even this initial step is changing because of Fusion and its ease of use.
"One of the great things about Fusion is you can just jump in and start working," Shudra says. "Even if you have minimal CAD knowledge, you can start manipulating shapes and making 3D objects. With other platforms there are more barriers to entry in terms of learning how the tools work before you can really do anything meaningful. At the same time, Fusion has a high ceiling, so if you know how to dig into the toolset you can create some really advanced, complex models."
Together, the initial sketching and CAD work establish a quick model that gives Shudra's team a rough idea of the size of the tracking device's enclosure, which naturally leads to the electrical engineering team determining the size of the printed circuit board (PCB). Once the team is comfortable with the size of the PCB and have confirmed it can do what they need it to do, they refine and optimize the CAD model with the help of the parametric modeling tools in Autodesk Fusion.
"By setting up the parameters within Fusion we have a highly structured CAD file that is very flexible in case the PCB needs to be increased or decreased or the customer requests a different size or shape.", says Shudra.
Once the model is finished, the Velavu team moves on to preparation for manufacturing. This primarily involves injection molding, so the team uses Fusion to evaluate drafting angles, wall thicknesses, and other critical factors.
"Eventually we bring in our manufacturers and share the files with them to make sure that the model can be manufactured," Shudra says. "From there, we're good to go."
Focusing on the future
Velavu is still in its startup phase, but the company expects to keep growing and Autodesk Fusion will continue to be instrumental to Velavu's efforts to seek out new asset tracking applications and bring them to life in a way that competitive solutions cannot.