More engineers are using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation than ever before, and with good reason. The NASA CFD Study also predicted increased use by companies around the world, in their 2030 vision. The data provided by simulation not only helps engineers to improve product performance, but can also reduce time to market and increase customer satisfaction. But how do you find the best CFD software for your individual requirements? We make a time, cost and revenue comparison across traditional methods and the opportunities now available on the cloud, to try and help you decide which is the best CFD software for your needs.
If you're new to computational fluid dynamics, don't forget to check out our Essential Guide to CFD Simulations.
How Do You Choose The Best CFD Software For You?
Traditionally, the industry has adopted a reactive stance when faced with a need for more simulation power, investing in additional costly hardware for example. Today, businesses are seeking a more proactive response to their computational fluid dynamics needs, utilizing on-demand, high-performance software subscriptions, to enable them to meet client requirements and remain competitive. Later in this article, we'll be comparing two different responses to three CFD case studies.
Which Is The Best CFD Software Option? Traditional vs Cloud
Let's take a look at a time, revenue and cost comparison of two different responses to CFD opportunities:
30 Days: Traditionally, the first 30 days of a project have seen engineers having to gain budget approval, possibly secure financing, and of course negotiate licences with vendors. With EXN/Aero, this same time period could see the software activated on-demand and simulations started, meaning an invoice can be raised at the end of this first period.
30-60 Days: Should things go well, the traditional CFD response would now involve a workstation procurement phase further delaying the start of simulations and of course, revenue. With EXN/Aero, you'd be into the second month of simulations and in receipt of payment for your first invoice.
60-90 Days: Typically, installation of traditional software would take place during this time allowing engineers to finally start simulations. The first invoice would be raised some three months after the project was first taken on - bringing with it possible deadline and cash flow implications. With EXN/Aero however, you'd be into month 3 of the project and in receipt of two invoice payments.
Impressive right? Why not schedule a demo of EXN/Aero with one of our engineers?
Case Study 1 - Best CFD Software Option for a Freelance CFD Engineer
With a huge increase in freelance platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer, it's hardly surprising that more and more engineers are going it alone. While freelancing in any industry opens up a great deal of freedom and opportunity, it also presents you with a number of challenges and limitations that must be managed in the best possible way, particularly when seeking the best CFD software.
- Can you compete? To be competitive, you'll need access to the latest available CFD technology that performs within time and budget constraints.With EXN/Aero, you're able to compete on a level playing field, paying no annual license, and still experiencing the latest software and a 10x simulation speed boost.
- Can you afford the investment? As a freelancer with a close eye on cash flow, spending on such a considerable capital investment can be a risk, and you may be forced to pass expenses on to clients increasing overall costs. As client needs progress or change, you may face further hardware investment to increase capability, and could even face a speed/accuracy trade-off to remain in budget. With EXN/Aero, the monthly, on-demand model makes CFD costs an affordable, operating expenditure cost instead. We explored this topic further in a recent article.
- Can you get started quickly and meet deadlines? During your pitch, you'll want to lay out timescales and identify key deadlines. The licensing and procurement process of traditional systems is not time-efficient, and it can be difficult to identify concrete timescales. With EXN/Aero, you can get started right away and be confident of meeting deadlines. Due to the simulation speed-up, you could even reduce the project completion time.
- What happens in the event of an unsuccessful pitch, changing client needs, or you lose the client? With a traditional investment, you may find yourself bound to the terms of a licence, paying a large amount for a system that is no longer needed or fit for purpose. This can be potentially crippling for a freelancer. With EXN/Aero, you only pay for the software if and when you need it, and have no long term contract. Unlike traditional systems, software updates mean your setup remains optimal without additional hardware investment.
Schedule a free demo today and see if EXN/Aero is the best CFD software for you:
Case Study 2 - Best CFD Software Option for a RFP Bidding Opportunity
An RFP (Request For Proposal) bidding opportunity can come from a variety of sources. It could be a recommendation from a current client, as a result of a successful SEO campaign, or even from a member of your local business network. Whatever the source, you'll want to make sure you're the ideal fit for the client's requirements, and can meet the demands of the project.
- Can you meet the client's requirements? As with any RFP, you must first assess whether you are equipped to meet the needs of the client. To compete with other businesses in the pitch process, you may choose to invest in traditional CFD resources taking a risk on purchasing expensive licences and hardware. This risk could prove costly should you fail to secure the client. With EXN/Aero, you will be able to include the latest software in your pitch with assurance that you needn't pay until the client is secured.
- Can you source budget for investment? You may not have been expecting an RFP bidding invitation, so may not have allocated funds for additional CFD investment in your budget. Traditional CFD licences come with a large price tag, and budget restrictions could mean you have to settle for less-than-optimal solutions. EXN/Aero software requires no capital outlay, due to its monthly, on-demand nature, so this could be easily incorporated as a small cost in the client proposal with no risk to your business cash flow.
- Can you get started quickly and meet designated deadlines? As a business, your reputation hangs on your ability to exceed client expectations. In an RFP bid, a client's decision may be influenced by how quickly you can get started, and how soon you can satisfy a deadline. Lengthy sourcing and procurement times with traditional systems could be damaging to your chances, whereas with EXN/Aero, you can get started right away, reducing waiting times for the client.
- What happens if things you don't win the bid, or the client's needs change? Sometimes things don't go well, and your proposal may be declined by the client. Alternatively, you may win the bid, only to find that the client's needs change further down the line. With traditional methods, you could find yourself stuck with expensive CFD licences, power-draining and depreciating hardware, or faced with the need to continually update your system to remain relevant. With EXN/Aero, you'll benefit with automatic updates and the flexibility to access the software 'on the fly' without being restricted to a licence.
Case Study 3 - Best CFD Software Option for a New CFD Requirement in an Ongoing Project
Successful engineers must remain dynamic and proactive in their approach to finding the best CFD software for a project.. The direction of an engineering project can change when you least expect it, and client needs can evolve. As a result, you may find yourself with a new CFD requirement as part of an ongoing design engineering project.
- Will your selection actually meet the project needs? As you choose between traditional and modern methods of CFD, you must consider the project requirements carefully. The best CFD software option should also provide you with the capability to fit project deadlines. Traditional methods could later prove restrictive should project needs change, or in the event that additional power is required. In some traditional cases, depending on budget, you could even find yourself sacrificing accuracy for speed - a common restriction.
- Can you convince management of the need for additional CFD resources? Once you're aware of the need to access CFD resources, you'll often need to approach management for clearance. You'll likely need to make the case for why you need the additional simulation power, propose the best CFD software, and propose a breakdown of costs. With traditional methods, you may have to do time-consuming work investigating licencing fees, additional hardware costs, and negotiating the terms. You may even have to take funds away from other areas of the project. With EXN/Aero, you can access the software right away for a simple, affordable payment.
- Can you secure the additional budget? Can the costs be absorbed or passed to the client? Once a project has begun, it can be difficult to add unplanned resources costs to the existing budget. In addition, you may face a number of barriers to secure addition budget, often having to go through financial departments, managers, and also receive sign-off from the client. Absorbing the hefty cost of traditional resources will reduce project profitability, and passing on costs to the client may not be welcomed. With EXN/Aero, you'll be able to access the CFD software for a small on-demand payment. The on-demand service is low-cost, so maintaining profitability or showing as a minimal cost addition for the client.
- What will happen once this particular project requirement is over? In the event your company decides that traditional CFD assets are the best CFD software option for a particular project, you may be left with resources you no longer need for the remainder of your license contract. While you may be able to use your traditional CFD setup for other clients, you may still need to invest further in updates, maintenance, and hardware. With the on-demand, pay-monthly option from EXN/Aero, you'll simply pay for what you need. Once the project is over, you can stop using it.
If you'd prefer to outsource your CFD simulations, check out our Discovery Project:
Best CFD Software Options: Other Things To Consider
Licence Negotiation vs Activating On-Demand
Negotiating a traditional licence (shopping around, speaking with sales managers, negotiating terms etc) can be a time-consuming experience. This could take up valuable time that could impede the final deadline, possibly affecting client satisfaction. With EXN/Aero, a call to Envenio results in a speedy demo and introduction, followed by the activation of on-demand. There are no licences to discuss and it's simple to get started, helping your daily workflow and helping to meet the original deadline. For many, this makes EXN/Aero the best CFD software choice.
Workstation Procurement vs Starting Simulations
Setting up a traditional workstation can be a very time-consuming process, further delaying the start of simulations. This adds further time to the process, and you could find that further staff training may be required or even additional seats. With EXN/Aero, you're ready to start simulations as you've activated your subscription. The new Onboarding Program also means you can get help from Envenio engineers to get you started.
Finding The Best CFD Software Requires A Fluid Approach
As highlighted in this article, engineering consultants require a dynamic and fluid approach to their IT requirements with many factors influencing their individual needs at any one time. Modern trends in HPC have enabled solutions such as EXN/Aero to provide a rapid, effective, and efficient solution to better react to:
- Sudden or urgent simulation projects
- An aspiration to bid on larger or more complex projects
- Need for more simulation iterations
- Reduced compute budget or compute resources
- Restriction on compute hardware purchases
- Requirement to deliver simulations in less time
EXN/Aero can also enable freelancers or businesses to be more competitive due to the following advantages:
- Provides a big increase in simulation size within your cost envelope
- Much better speed compared to other CFD workstations
- Faster project completion times for clients
- No HPC licence fees
- Simultaneous parallel runs on your equipment without additional license fees
- Be more competitive on project bids
Overall, there are real-world advantages to modern, high-performance software, that enables engineers to react quickly. In many cases, modern computational fluid dynamics software such as EXN/Aero allows engineers to punch above their weight when it comes to simulation power meeting strict budgets and deadlines, while still producing accurate data.
How Onboarding Could Help You Discover The Best CFD Software Solution
The Onboarding Program is a hands-on, next-level program to get you up and running with your simulations. You'll benefit from 20 hours across 30 days, working directly with one of our CFD engineering experts to mesh, set up, simulate, and post-process your results. During the engagement, engineers will ensure you receive the training required to continue easily performing your simulations after the Onboarding Program is over, remaining satisfied that you have made the best CFD software choice.