Benefits of Virtual Simulation for Engineering Managers
Success can be measured by many standards. In product engineering, manufacturing and production, success is often measured by three standards: (1) profitability; (2) competitiveness; and, (3) design. It’s no accident that I listed them in this order. Regardless of a product’s design and its ability to compete in the market, if the company manufacturing it doesn’t make a profit, the product cannot be considered a success.
Agile, responsive design and assembly methods and strategies continue to emerge, but perhaps one of the best ways for a manufacturer to meet three core goals listed above is with virtual simulation. Assembly simulation, planning and assessment in a CAD model based virtual environment (VE) identifies potential problems without the use of physical mockups or prototypes. This process shortens the design cycle, improves product quality, and ensures that the product can be manufactured with cost-effective materials to improve profitability.
Simulation software isn’t one-size-fits-all, and nearly (if not all) 3D CAE packages have some form of simulation included. One package may fit one company’s needs better, while a different package may be more applicable to a second company. It’s important to understand what those differences are and what simulation software can do to positively change the way your design process operates.
Types simulation that may be required include:
You may need simulation solutions for linear and nonlinear static, frequency, buckling, thermal, fatigue, pressure vessel, drop test, linear and nonlinear dynamic, motion, and optimization analyses.
Simulation software can be useful – if you know what you’re doing. However, these 3D CAE tools have not been traditionally easy to use. In fact, experts and analysts are often used to ensure that the information going into the tool will create accurate and meaningful results. Unfortunately, these simulation gurus are often overworked as all the hard simulation work falls upon their desks.
Recent trends in the simulation industry are allowing for the democratization of CAE technology. Tools like simulation apps, templates, fit-for-purpose simulation tools and simulation in CAD are making it easier for non-simulation experts to be capable when using the technology. Additionally, CAE vendors have also been busy updating their UIs to accommodate ease of use.
These changes to the CAE world have alleviated much of the load on simulation analysts and allowed them to share their expertise with a wider audience. There are, however, benefits and drawbacks to each democratized CAE option that will affect which option management chooses to implement.
Moreover, there are Simulation Service Providers who can streamline the process for you by performing simulations while your engineers continue working on the design. They’ll let the engineers know what changes need to be performed, and the engineers can incorporate those changes as they continue to design.
Even if you do hire a Simulation Service Provider, you will need to have trained members of your in-house team who know how simulation tools work and how to use and interpret them properly. This is especially true if these engineers will be basing decisions on the simulation results or using the software directly.
Handling simulation tools properly, whether in-house or through a service provider gives the engineer the ability to create products that are highly optimized for the product’s use, without worrying about how it will be produced. In theory, this should make products that are that are (1) profitable; (2) competitive; and, (3) well designed.