Ed Miller: Leverage engineering simulation across the enterprise

Manufacturers across a range of industries would be hard pressed to design products without simulation tools such as structural analysis, multi-body simulation, and computational fluid dynamics. Yet despite their importance, manufacturers typically do a poor job of managing analysis results and related work processes.
By Ed Miller March 1, 2008

Manufacturers across a range of industries would be hard pressed to design products without simulation tools such as structural analysis, multi-body simulation, and computational fluid dynamics. Yet despite their importance, manufacturers typically do a poor job of managing analysis results and related work processes.

Companies generally have no formal system in place for properly archiving and managing analysis results and information relating to how problems were set up, which analysis software was used, which analyses were executed, what decisions were made, who made approvals, and when changes were made. This information often is discarded, buried in disorganized filing systems, or stored only in the recollections of a few individuals.

Such information loss forces engineers and analysts to recreate data over and over. Problems are magnified when people in different locations work on the same simulation projects with no system for exchanging analysis data or standardizing and integrating work processes.

Recognizing the drawback here, leading-edge manufacturers are implementing programs to get their simulation data under control, and better manage their simulation process knowledge. This includes managing simulation data as part of their product life-cycle management (PLM) strategies as they have previously done with CAD files, technical specifications, change orders, and other data related to design engineering. Via a central repository of simulation-related data, people across the enterprise can collaborate and access the information they need, when they need it.

By following this approach, simulation can be transformed from a domain exclusively for specialists into a visible and accessible component of the product development process across the full product life cycle and throughout the extended enterprise. Simulation capabilities thus become available much more broadly throughout a company, from purchasing to sales, to make more informed and confident decisions. This can lead to faster responses to customer requests while improving design variation predictability, and leading to more accurate quotations and higher profitability.

Moreover, with engineering simulation and manufacturing operations tied more closely together, production quality and throughput undoubtedly benefit.

With simulation processes integrated with PLM as part of a company’s business strategy, engineers can better utilize simulation tools in developing products to fit in with corporate goals. Time is saved, errors reduced, and collaboration facilitated because information is readily accessed, ideas shared, correct revisions used, and results archived.

Estimated measurable cost savings are stunning for companies implementing enterprise simulation management: 90-percent cost reductions in executing simulations through greater efficiencies and process management, 60-percent savings through increased analysis model reuse, 40-percent less expense for building and testing physical prototypes, and 40-percent savings in simulation technology budgets through consolidation of analysis tools and methods.

Companies committed to moving toward enterprise simulation management will have a significant competitive advantage in the coming years as the role of engineering analysis continues to grow in scope and importance within manufacturing companies.

Author Information
Ed Miller is president of CIMdata Inc. (