The other day a colleague of mine was telling me about a sign that one of his previous managers had in his
office. It said "The purpose of project, blah blah blah, is to MAKE MONEY!" When it comes right down to it, that statement is so true. That's the reason we all get up and go to work each day; we won't get very far in the world if we don't have at least some of that in our pocket...well from a business perspective how do we achieve this? One of the main ways is to take our current operation and make it more efficient and productive. This often involves implementing new technology available in our industry; this is no-less true in the engineering industry. In fact, the term engineering itself implies that our purpose is to design, create, and improve products and processes! A while back I saw an article listing the top 10 engineering advancements of the 21st century. In that top 10 was the introduction of 3D CAD software! Today, you are hard pressed to find any engineering company not utilizing some form of 3D CAD software. Being able to work with a wide variety of the engineering companies has given me the opportunity to see a new trend that is developing. Companies no longer want just 3D CAD at their fingertips, they also want simulation tools at their fingertips. It used to be that these tools were so complex and expensive that only large companies with PhD level employees were able to utilize these tools. In today's world however, this is no longer the case. Many of these tools are now integrated right inside that same 3D CAD package that you have been using for years. It allows the everyday engineers and designers to make informed design decisions without having to resort to physically building and testing the design.
The number one goal of our company is to help our customers succeed in any way they can. One of the ways we can do this is by showing them the value that upfront simulation can bring. In an effort to do this, we recently finished up a series of seminars that went through the benefits of using simulation to virtually test designs in the early stages of the design process. The title of these seminars was Predicting Real World Product Performance. One of the main points in these seminars was how virtual testing can take into account multiple types of physics. Today’s products are often so complex that is it tough to understand how they truly react to the environment they are used in without building and testing many expensive prototypes. Take an air cooled engine for example. One important aspect is the cooling mechanism. The flow of air over the engine effects the temperature. Changes in the materials temperature impacts the efficiency, material properties, structural integrity and durability of the engine components. Thermal stresses can lead to failure of the components and vibrations in the system. In this case and cases where multiple physics are involved, the only practical way to fully understand what is going on is through virtual testing.
These seminars also talked about how hard it is to make design changes the closer you are to production. The emphasis here is that when using integrated simulation you can get an idea of how your design is going to perform early in the design and catch any changes that need to be made when the cost is relatively low.
The last highlight of these seminars that I'd like to give is the real companies that came and shared how they have adopted this process and what they've been able to achieve as a result. Here are a few examples of the presenting companies and their success with simulation:
- Trek Bikes was our presenter at our Madison seminar and they shared how their engineers with the use of integrated simulation could test multiple iterations of a design in a single day rather than have to wait for a single design change to be physically tested before proceeding to their next design change; this increased their productivity tremendously. Another big benefit for Trek was to have the ability to keep a library of results from past design iterations as a historical record to see how their product has improved over time.
- Cree Lighting came and shared at our Chicago seminar and again explained how they could vastly increase the number of design iterations they could run on a single design in such a short amount of time. Their motto at Cree is "Fail Faster to Succeed Sooner". Using this motto they have been able to be on the cutting edge of innovation in their industry.
- SAS Forks was our speaker for our Green Bay seminar. SAS Forks designs fork lift attachments that are used for a variety of purposes. One of their specialties is designing attachments used in the salvage industry for tearing out vehicle components for recycling. SAS Forks prides themselves in the durability of their designs. With the use of upfront simulation they were able to save money on their designs while still keeping the reputation of having the most durable designs in the industry.
- Maverick Innovation Lab was our speak for the Milwaukee seminar. Presenter Matthew Loew discussed his successes with Simulation, and also talked about different Simulation concepts and technique to apply.
With today's industries being as competitive as they are, it is so important to keep on top of the latest technologies available to improve the efficiency and productivity of your company. 3D CAD has revolutionized the way we run our engineering businesses and I believe we will see a similar trend with integrated simulation solutions as well.
By: Chris Olson, Simulation Applications Engineer
To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Simulation, please visit our website.