When budgets are tight most managers think about the same thing before they sign on the dotted line: is this new tool going to help us get more done faster/better/smarter? If the answer is no then like most managers I don’t make the investment. Instead I focus on an activity that’s going to give me the best return on investment (ROI).
That’s why last week I talked about time compression being the king of benefits. You can easily measure the savings in time and how the savings can affect the company bottomline. And if time compression is king, then the queen must be none other than process compression. Now time and process compression go hand in hand … it’s a bit of a chicken/egg thing. Anyway, when I talk about process compression I am talking about the ability to optimize the process by which a new product is designed. The benefits of adopting analysis during the design phase have been documented by a lot of people (including yours truly) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the design process itself becomes shorter too. You’ve got to have the right tool so you can shorten the number of steps in the analysis cycle to further improve the design process!
So what do I mean by that. By using the next generation CFD tools which are CAD-embedded, design engineers can easily eliminate:
- the geometry transfer process. Because analysis runs inside CAD, the user does not need to transfer the geometry. This process can be quite painful especially for complex designs. I’ve heard of engineers getting so frustrated with the geometry transfer process that they’ve been “this close” to throwing their PCs out the window. Some even have given up on transferring geometry and recreate models from scratch for analysis.
- creating “empty” geometry or cavities. Ok this is one of those things that you don’t think about. But when performing fluid flow analysis you are often interested in the empty regions… not the solid model itself. As a result, you end up having to create all sorts of bogus geometry to represent the empty regions when you use traditional CFD tools. What a waste of time. CAD-embedded software is intelligent enough to recognize those empty regions and will automatically create them for you.
- messing about with the mesh (or as I call it stop meshing about). We’ve already talked about the magic of meshing a few times. So all I’ll say about it here is this: by using a robust automatic mesher which can handle real-world geometry then you won’t have to pick from among several meshing tools, algorithms etc.
These savings (in number of steps and overall time) can make a significant impact on companies. One company which has taken advantage of process compression as a result of CAD-embedded CFD simulation is Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems. They have improved the plenum manufacturing process of their MT250 microturbine engine by using CFD software. In the past, evaluating new designs required expensive rig testing which made it impractical to evaluate a wide range of alternatives. However, with MCAD-embedded CFD they were able to evaluate 15 different alternatives very quickly and without cutting any metal. Now I don’t know how long it would have taken them to build and test 15 different alternatives but my guess is that it wouldn’t have been as fast as simulation. According to Toni Stamenov, Design Engineer for the company, one of the models “provides the same performance as the previous design even though it is much less expensive to make because it does not require hydroforming.” The new design also improves assembly and serviceability by reducing installation time from 1 hour to 10 minutes. In other words, not only were they able to create a design that meets their engineering specifications but they were able to make it more cost effectively and drastically reduce costs associated with installation. That’s a triple whammy in my book. If you’d like to find out how Mr. Stamenov accomplished this please follow this link.
So there we have it — time and process compression … two peas in a most excellent pod. I guess the next natural progression for this conversation is how does one measure these savings. Well we can talk about next.
Until next time,