Software Update: Simulations Speed Product Designs, Cut Manufacturing Costs
Sandeep Sovani is automotive director for Ansys Inc. (Canonsburg, PA), a developer of simulation software solutions.
Manufacturing Engineering: How is simulation software helping automotive manufacturers today?
Sandeep Sovani: The automotive industry has been one of the early adopters of simulation ahead of other industries, and is one of the most intense and extensive users of it. Simulation is now part of the ‘DNA’ of automotive product development, an essential tool that helps manufacturers cut design and prototype costs. It is estimated that automotive companies globally invest about $1 billion in simulation software each year and that investment is growing at a rate between 10% and 20% annually.
Simulation is used heavily in the development of almost every major vehicle system and subsystem, from chassis and powertrain design to interior and electronic components. For instance, crash simulation is a key component of the development of the vehicle body. Auto manufacturers have been relying heavily on crash simulation—which has been proven to be accurate and reliable—to study a wide variety of crash scenarios.
Because physical crash tests are so expensive and time-consuming, requiring production and preparation of prototype vehicles, dummies and elaborate crash-testing facilities, companies are making the transition to simulation software.
There are hundreds of examples of critical uses of simulation throughout the vehicle. For example, the size and orientation of the front grille needed to provide adequate air flow under the hood to cool the engine is almost exclusively designed by using simulation. In the past, this has been done using expensive wind tunnel trials. For automotive manufacturers, the use of simulation is a strategic investment that not only eliminates expensive processes involving physical testing, but also improves the quality and life of vehicles.
ME: How will simulation help automakers meet the 54.5-mpg CAFE mandate in 2025?
Sovani: Apart from improving the quality and reliability of vehicles, simulation software plays a critical role in the design and development of fuel-efficient vehicles. There are three major areas of focus for improving fuel efficiency: body aerodynamics, engine/transmission and electric powertrain.
Developing aerodynamic vehicle body shape is essential for better fuel efficiency, since at typical highway speeds, a major portion of fuel consumption is caused by air resistance. To improve fuel economy, car manufacturers use simulation software to explore body line possibilities to find the design that provides the least resistance, while still producing a stylish vehicle. Thanks to simulation, it’s possible to analyze several hundred body shape design variations, something that is prohibitively expensive with prototype builds and physical tests. Advanced simulation methods exist to allow a car manufacturer to simulate the aerodynamic performance of a vehicle in less than one hour with high-performance computing.
Powertrain design modifications are central to the effort to improve fuel economy and help meet the 54.5 CAFE standards. Simulation software is fundamental to the development of turbochargers and superchargers, which are being utilized more and more in engines to increase fuel efficiency. Simulations allow engineers to design the fine blade structures that spin at extremely high speeds, force feeding a smaller, more fuel-efficient engine that consumes less fuel. Simulation software has a greater role to play in the development of new electric powertrains for hybrid and electric vehicles than in any of the other traditional vehicle systems. This is because a large amount of engineering development is needed for these new innovations that involve systems such as propulsion batteries, electric machines, and electronics that are completely new to the automotive industry.
ME: Describe your company’s simulation offerings. What new capabilities specifically help automotive builders?
Sovani: Ansys has traditionally provided strong simulation software for traditional areas of automotive design such as aerodynamics, cooling, powertrain and chassis systems and continues to bring new innovations and process improvements to these areas. Ansys also provides robust solutions for emerging technologies like the electric powertrain, model-based systems engineering and hardware-software co-simulation, which are becoming increasingly important in the design of current and future automobiles.
Automotive components, particularly the propulsion battery, electric machine and power electronics in the electric powertrain, experience simultaneous loads from various physical aspects including electrical, magnetic, thermal, structural, fluid and other factors. These different physics are tightly interconnected and a product’s behavior is determined by the complex interactions between these components. Ansys provides high-end physics solvers that run in an efficient, tightly coupled way to solve complex multiphysics problems involved in modern automotive components.
Modern cars have more lines of embedded software code that those in a commercial airliner. Embedded software is highly prolific in cars and has become an important part of automotive systems. Through its latest acquisition and integration of Esterel Technologies, Ansys now provides the capability to simulate hardware and software in unison, optimizing a component or system as a whole.
ME: How has simulation enhanced other manufacturing segments, such as aerospace or medical?
Sovani: Just as in the automotive industry, fuel efficiency is also a major concern in the aerospace industry as they work to reduce the cost of flight through the design of more efficient aircraft. Engineering simulation is playing a crucial role by helping companies optimize designs for weight and drag reduction and improvement in fuel burn efficiency. Modeling and simulation is also a key enabler in the development of new aerodynamic designs of aircraft. One critical area of understanding is aeroelasticity, which is how the wings and aircraft structure change and adapt their shape in the different stages of flight—landing, cruise or take-off—as well as how they respond to turbulence and buffeting.
The medical industry faces challenges of increasing regulation and public scrutiny of failure coupled with aging population, rising healthcare costs and providing accessible healthcare. To meet these challenges, the industry is taking efforts to boost innovation rates while reducing time to market, and maximizing product reliability—particularly for implantable products. Simulation software is a critical element to implement these initiatives. ME
Simulation and Analysis Spurred PLM Growth in 2012
The PLM market grew 12.6% in 2012, to $21.1 billion, according to CIMdata Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), a global PLM strategic management consulting and research firm. On July 9, CIMdata released its 2013 PLM Executive Market Report. It provides a summary of the PLM market and specific PLM segments with perspective on current trends.
“Once again, simulation and analysis was the fastest growing segment, showing the increasing importance of S&A across the product development lifecycle,” said Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s Vice President of Research. More at www.cimdata.com.
Geometric Ltd. (Mumbai, India) on June 26 announced it has launched CAMWorks for Solid Edge, the first embedded CAM solution for the Solid Edge 3D design system from Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX). CAMWorks for Solid Edge offers proven machining capabilities for Solid Edge users, and since it is accessible directly in the Solid Edge window, the software provides a consistent user interface and eliminates time-consuming file transfers.
With Geometric’s patented Feature Recognition technology running in real-time to capture machined features and automatically generate or update the toolpath, manufacturing-driven design changes can be made to any CAD model using synchronous technology, a capability that combines the speed and flexibility of direct modeling with the precise control of dimension-driven design. This dramatically streamlines what has traditionally been a time-consuming process. The solution also captures the machining strategy in CAMWorks’ customizable database, TechDB, thus allowing efficient machining solutions to be reapplied to future designs with similar features, further enhancing productivity.
Delcam plc (Birmingham, UK) has launched a free version of its Gold-Certified Delcam for SolidWorks integrated CAM system for SolidWorks. Delcam for SolidWorks Xpress provides the essential 2D milling and drilling functionality available in Delcam for SolidWorks.
Delcam for SolidWorks Xpress is intended mainly as an introductory level program for users that are new to CAM, but it will also be useful for companies, such as design studios, that only need to program simpler CNC machines or those that wish to experiment with 2D machining before investing in a full 3D software package. Users will be able to generate NC code for feature-rich 2D parts quickly and easily with the “feature-from-feature” technology inside Delcam for SolidWorks. The software is fully compatible with the latest version of SolidWorks. It can be downloaded free of charge from www.delcamforsolidworks.com/xpress.
Siemens AG (Munich) announced June 3 that is has extended its software portfolio by acquiring the Preactor Group (Chippenham, UK), a developer of advanced production planning and scheduling software. Financial details of the transaction were not released. Preactor’s solutions will add new components to the Siemens Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) portfolio. The company, which has been developing software for production planning processes for over 20 years, will be assigned to the Siemens Industry Automation Division (Nuremberg, Germany), which includes CAD/CAM developer Siemens PLM Software (Plano, TX).
Delcam North America (Salt Lake City) has established a new direct-sales office following the acquisition of CAD CAM Systems (Rockford, IL), its reseller in the region. CAD CAM Systems’ President Andy Bergstrom and the company’s staff will become direct Delcam employees at Delcam Illinois, which is Delcam’s sixth direct office in North America.
Software Update is edited by Patrick Waurzyniak: email@example.com.
This article was first published in the August 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.