It’s no exaggeration to say that simulation is more important than ever in today’s rapidly expanding industrial and consumer environment. Our customers are pushing the boundaries of engineering simulation in ways we could never have imagined. Tomorrow’s release of the latest version of our suite of simulation solutions, ANSYS 18, will help them to keep pushing these boundaries.
Those of you who are familiar with ANSYS know that we are continually improving our product line with enhancements to every module in response to large-scale technological trends, input from our customers and innovations generated by our own top-notch technical team. With ANSYS 18, engineers can now simulate more complex physical phenomena than ever before using structural, thermal, electromagnetic, fluidic and controls simulation, either in isolation or in coupled multiphysics studies.
“Pervasive engineering simulation” describes this expansion of simulation into increasingly complex and diverse settings. This means simulation is making inroads into all aspects of engineering practice, from fully exploring a product’s design parameter space to virtually testing thousands of potential designs to monitoring and optimizing industrial operations. These three aspects are known as digital exploration, digital prototyping and digital twins, respectively.
For decades, engineering simulation has generally referred to digital prototyping, which involves the virtual testing of many versions of a product in the same time it might take to build and test one physical prototype. The build-and-test method is time-consuming and expensive. If the physical prototype fails, a second version must be built, with limited insight into why the first one missed the mark. Product development cycles using this method could last months or years, which is unacceptable in today’s fast moving marketplace. So digital prototyping saved development time and money by testing many versions of a product virtually and collecting reams of data during each iteration to show the strengths and weaknesses of each version. Using digital prototyping, the product development cycle was reduced to weeks instead of months or years.
To further compress and enhance the product development cycle, engineers began using simulation earlier in the process — the digital exploration phase. In this phase, simulations fully explore all the possible parameters of a new product — materials, temperatures, pressures, aerodynamics, mechanical properties, current, voltage, fluid flow — to identify unique combinations that may never have been considered, while simultaneously eliminating outlying designs. Performing digital exploration upfront in the design process homes in on the ideal configuration of the product, reducing the number of variations that need to be tested in the digital prototyping phase to save even more time and money.
The digital twin is an especially exciting and relatively recent development in our field. It offers the most potential for growth by expanding engineering simulation into industry operations. A digital twin is a virtual copy of an actual operating machine rendered as an engineering simulation model. Sensors on the machine relay data — temperature, vibration, impact, loading, etc. — to the digital twin, and the twin evolves along with the machine. The constant feedback can be beneficial in four ways: it can help engineers to optimize the operation of a machine or a system; it can predict adverse conditions long before they happen; it can let engineers test solutions to problems virtually before attempting physical repairs; and it can provide lots of data to improve the design of subsequent machines.
Take the example of a pump. A decade ago this would have been a metal, mechanical device. Today it includes onboard electronics and wireless communications. It’s made with multiple composite materials and is being deployed in environments as varied as a mountaintop in Alaska to the sweltering sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. No single set of operating parameters will fit both pumps in these widely different environments. Having digital twins that monitor the pumps can help engineers to optimize their individual operations based on local conditions. The pumps will operate more efficiently for a longer time in both locations, and the data collected will inform the design of the next generation of pumps.
Pervasive engineering simulation presents enormous opportunities to our customers as well as enormous challenges. ANSYS 18 is designed to help every engineer handle these challenges.
Tomorrow, January 31st, a number of visionary companies that we are proud to call our customers — Cummins, GE Digital, Oticon, Metso and Nebia — will be joining me and our R&D team as we host a virtual town hall meeting on taming product complexity with pervasive engineering simulation. Please join us and bring your questions.