A business review carried out by The Aberdeen Group, found that the most effective strategy for manufacturers was to improve productivity and operational execution.
The review uncovered that development schedules have been reduced by some 72%, while development projects are largely understaffed by some 43%, meaning that those involved in new product development must get the most from their existing resources in order to improve efficiency. Understanding product behavior is of key importance in this, and the use of cost-effective computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is an area of growing interest in the work of design engineers.
This article summarizes the findings of researcher, Michelle Boucher, which asks whether arming design engineers with CFD simulation tools can help or slow down the development process, as well as considering this paper, which focuses on getting product design right first time, using CFD. You can learn more about CFD in our Essential Guide to CFD Simulations.
Aberdeen studied the experiences of 279 design engineers in March and April 2011, through a survey and interviews. Those whose products were impacted by the criteria assessed in a CFD analysis were isolated for this analysis.
Assessing Product Behavior Concurrently With Design Creates Business Value
To understand the external factors that impact product behavior during the development process, survey respondents were asked to select the top two external pressures impacting them most.
Easily, the top pressure was named as shortened development schedules. Companies face an unrelenting challenge to get their products to market as quickly as possible to beat off competition and capture market share. The importance of capturing market share cannot be understated, to enjoy the higher profit margins and to recoup development cost and improve overall profits.
The impact of this on development teams has been that schedules and resources have been reduced. There is simply no time to find problems at the end of the development cycle that can further delay a product. With products requiring a delicate balance of quality and cost effectiveness, it clearly makes sense to provide design engineers with tools to inform their design decisions, notably CFD.
"Our company has benefited considerably from implementing CFD. Previously, we used the same cooling system on every product. With CFD, we can actually optimize each system."
~ Engineer, Consumer Goods
The Design Engineer's Challenge
It's important to understand which obstacles must be addressed in order to help design engineers assess product behavior. The top challenge for design engineers is increasing product complexity. A number of factors come into play including a greater number of parts, globalization, component miniaturization, and the involvement of a number of engineering disciplines, making it difficult to predict how the components will interact.
The environment in which a product operates in can also add complications, making it more difficult to predict behavior, with physical factors and extreme environments all impacting product performance. This level of uncertainty can make it difficult to determine whether a product will even meet the design requirements, never mind the impact of trade off decisions.
With better insight into product behavior, especially understanding the impact of the variety of physical forces, engineers can make better design decisions that will make products more appealing to customers which will ultimately lead to greater profitability. However, given the time pressures on development, this must be accomplished without adding further to the development cycle.
The Impact Of Making CFD Readily-Available To Design Engineers
As seen in Figure 2, a key challenge for design engineers is that the performance of a product is so affected by multiple physical forces. CFD analysis assesses a number of forces including fluid flow, air flow, and heat transfer, often among the multiple physical forces impacting on product performance.
So the question asked, can making CFD tools available to design engineers help to address the design challenges in Figure 2? If yes, is it also possible to accomplish this while simultaneously supporting a company's objective to address the top market pressures?
To understand this, the performance of companies whose design engineers conducted and had access to CFD results was compared to those who did not make CFD available to design engineers. The results can be found in Figure 3.
A recent article also looked at a direct comparison between traditional design methods and simulation.
The most striking advantage for design engineers using CFD, is their ability to meet product launch dates. While at first, it may seem that adding CFD analysis to the workload of a design engineer could slow things down, it actually has the opposite effect. By doing this analysis throughout the development process, design engineers can manage product complexity and make design decisions more efficiently, due to their more in-depth insight.
Those not using CFD are more likely to find problems at the very end, resulting in further delays and having an impact on launch date. This finding means that CFD is helping companies to address the top pressure on product development, shorten development schedules and providing a key ROI benefit.
Product quality can also be improved when CFD is more readily available to design engineers, and their more in-depth insight means they can avoid over-engineering, therefore assisting with budgeting.
Finally, by being more likely to get a product to market when expected, companies can capture market share, and meet revenue targets. With the decision making process becoming more efficient, engineers can put more ficus on more innovation, and drive further customer demand and revenue targets. Overall, this all culminates to the ROI of CFD.
98% of design engineers surveyed reported value in using CFD, with many finding that concurrent CFD during the design phase helps with testing because more design ideas can be tested in a virtual environment. The result of this is greater innovation, while still meeting launch dates and quality targets.
Figure 4 highlights the biggest impact if CFD was not used by design engineers.
The On-Demand Factor
This paper addresses a number of factors currently facing the CFD industry. Providing software that not only benefits the overall design process by offering the latest technology, but also satisfies accessibility and affordability is essential for the future. Many companies forego using CFD tools because of the high costs of computing and licenses. Affordable cloud-based CFD tools such as EXN/Aero help to address these factors, and the pay-per-use factor helps companies to budget accordingly. In addition, these tools are easier and quicker to use, complementing the design process further. A recent article looked into the advantages of a cloud-based solver. The on-demand accessibility means companies can try it on a project without incurring major costs or committing to annual license agreements.
- Design engineers rate functions that enable them to tightly integrate CFD analysis with design as extremely useful as it enables them to make better decisions so that they can meet both quality and cost targets, while focusing on the innovations that will drive customer demand to meet revenue targets Increasing part complexity as well as the multiple physical properties impacting products creates a need for design engineers to have better methods for understanding product behavior.
- Companies that provide design engineers with CFD tools to use during design are 21% more likely to meet launch dates than those who do not provide design engineers with these tools, making it a key part of the ROI of using CFD in a design environment.
- Companies that support their design engineers with CFD tools realize the ROI of CFD because they are better able to address the top market pressure to bring products to market.
Try It For Yourself
EXN/Aero is a general purpose computational fluid dynamics, cloud solver that reduces simulation times by up to 20x. The platform includes a meshing tool, the solver, and a post-processing tool, and plenty of storage for your files. There are a range of on-demand options available to users, helping them to better manage project cash flow. This affordable CFD software is sure to be an asset to companies or CFD freelancers like. We offer free trials of the product, starting with a walkthrough with one of our engineers. You can learn more about CFD in our Essential Guide to CFD Simulations.