Digital Twins: Realizing the Predictive Maintenance Vision

One of the newest and most exciting frontiers in simulation is the concept of digital twins. According to recently released survey results reported by Gartner, 48 percent of companies already realizing the benefits of the internet of things (IoT) are using or plan to use digital twins by the end of this year. And, at least 50 percent of manufacturing companies with annual revenues of more than $5 billion plan to start at least one digital twin initiative by 2020.

But first, what is a digital twin? The term is wildly used across industries with various meanings. Here’s how I define a digital twin: It is a simulated, virtual model of an actual working product in the field, informed by sensors mounted on the physical product that gather and send back real-time, real-world operating data. By studying the digital twin under actual working conditions, companies, for the first time, can analyze the product in action, over time, in its actual operating environment. This feedback enables the product development team to close the loop on its initial simulations by revealing strengths and weaknesses of the design in the field. Engineers can make more informed choices for future designs and improve the accuracy of their simulations.

Even more important, digital twins enable true predictive maintenance for the first time. Instead of overservicing or overmaintaining products to avoid costly downtime, repairs or replacement, companies can act “just in time” to address any product performance issues predicted by the digital twin. They can accurately visualize exactly when and where maintenance is needed, instead of making blind guesses and safe bets. Costly unplanned downtime is replaced by less expensive maintenance during scheduled shutdowns. Continue reading

First-of-Its-Kind Solution for Digital Twins in ANSYS 19.1

With today’s release of ANSYS 19.1, we deliver a powerful new tool for taming complexity and bringing innovation to market. With ANSYS Twin Builder, customers can now build, validate and deploy simulation-based digital twins within a single workflow. For the oil and gas, industrial, energy and aerospace and defense industries, Twin Builder offers millions of dollars in maintenance- and lost productivity-related cost savings.

Digital twins are informed by data collected from sensors on their real-world counterparts and transmitted via the industrial internet of things (IIoT). Twin Builder’s open solution easily integrates with any IIoT platform and empowers users to perform diagnostics and troubleshooting, determine an ideal maintenance program, optimize the performance of industrial assets and generate insightful data to improve the next generation of products. Continue reading

Electric Transformer Design with ANSYS Discovery AIM

Transformers are used extensively in electronics products to modify voltage before electrical energy can be transmitted. Image of electric transformer.Alternating current in one coil produces a varying magnetic field that induces electromotive force, allowing power to be transferred from one coil to another through a magnetic field without metallic connection. Designing these electronics systems is an art of maximizing or minimizing induction depending on the requirements of the circuit. Computational electromagnetics can confirm good coil proximity and sizing in systems where maximal inductance is required, such as in the case of a shared iron core within an electric transformer. Alternatively, it is desirable to identify stray flux leakage when inductance is unwanted, such as between a circuit coil and metal framing used in a housing. Current is needed to drive through the coil, but you also don’t want the electromagnetic effects to be inducted within the framing and, as a result, generate undesirable heat or reduce the efficiency of the system.

Ideal transformer coils with shared ferrite core (top) and toroidal transformer coil with ferrite core (bottom), as modeled in ANSYS Discovery AIM. Continue reading

Optimizing the Thermal Design of Electric Machines with Simulation

Electric machines are inherently multiphysics devices. They convert electrical energy to mechanical energy, and produce heat in the process. Because modern machines are pushed to their limits, they require engineering design that delves into electrical, mechanical and thermal domains to ensure robust performance. Excess heat can reduce their efficiency and, in some cases, permanently demagnetize magnets and damage insulation on the windings. Optimizing cooling can be extremely complicated, especially for end windings where oil sprays may be used.

Simulation showing thermal optimization of electric motor

Courtesy of Lucid Motors; created in EnSight

To tackle thermal design, engineers often have a detailed CAD model available before they begin simulation. Other times, they rely on the thermal guidance gained through simulation before they create a detailed CAD file, so they can more quickly narrow the design space to focus on the most promising approaches. For each scenario, ANSYS offers simulation tools and a best-practice workflow for engineering electric machines and accelerating design optimization.

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Simulation Used to Spur Design Development for Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is a key player in the future of clean energy, and multiple companies are pursuing new technologies to maximize nuclear’s contribution to the clean energy space. Founded in 2011 and based in Cambridge, MA, Transatomic Power is an advanced nuclear technology startup developing and commercializing a molten salt reactor (MSR), or a nuclear reactor whose fuel is in liquid, rather than solid, form. This technology, originally developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the 1960’s, offers multiple safety and cost benefits over traditional nuclear reactors, in which the fuel is in the form of solid pellets cooled by water.

Tranatomic’s MSR design builds on the original work at ORNL and adds a few innovative new features that reduce the reactor’s size and, as a result, it’s cost – a huge factor in building new nuclear power plants. Though the development process is a long one, the world needs a larger capacity for clean energy generation, and it’s this ultimate goal that drives the Transatomic team forward. Continue reading

CFD Helps Design Marine Vessels to Withstand Extreme Waves

Most of Brazil’s offshore resources are in deep waters so Petrobras has fostered substantial expertise to develop these fields. One area of importance is the design of marine vessels to withstand the extreme waves. While the discovery of 50 billion barrels of oil in recent decades has been a boon to Brazil’s economic outlook, the location of the oil has produced challenging engineering problems. Lying hundreds of kilometers offshore under up to 3,000 meters of seawater, 2,000 meters of rock and 2,000 meters of salt, the oil reserves are some of the most difficult to access on Earth. Engineers are systematically using best design practices and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to increase the safety of marine structures and vessels used to drill and produce oil from Santos Basin fields.

CFD simulation of an FPSO in extreme waves marine vesselsComputational fluid dynamics simulation of an FPSO in extreme waves.

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Energy Efficiency – Do You Have A Goal and Are You Measuring Up?

In honor of Earth Day, which was celebrated this past weekend, I would like to share my perspective on energy efficiency.

Every month, I receive a home energy usage report from my friendly utility company.  I had been puzzled for years why I was using 50 or 60% more energy than my efficient neighbors. At social gatherings, I asked my friends about their energy efficiency numbers and we collectively bemoaned the mysterious efficient neighbors. Who are these people? Do they even heat or cool their homes?

energy efficiency neighborhood reportingThen last year, I purchased and installed the Nest thermostat. My utility company even pitched in with a price discount offer. Over time my energy usage has declined when compared to my neighbors. The most recent report shows that I used 21% more energy than my efficient neighbors. This is down from 51% in the similar period two years ago. The artificial intelligence algorithms and smart silicon are making a difference! Continue reading

Sustainability in the Chemical and Process Industries

pillars of sustainabilitySustainable engineering along with process safety is one of the technical tracks in this year’s upcoming Spring meeting of the American Society of Chemical Engineers – March 26-30 San Antonio, TX. The forum covers a range of process design topics, presentations and discussions around environmental initiatives for air, water and soil protection. So, what is sustainability and what are chemical engineers doing about it? Continue reading

Powering Global Prosperity: New Energy for Pressing Industry Challenges

Global prosperity requires reliable energy at a reasonable cost. To meet this demand, the industry is changing the way it produces energy and power, whether it comes from hydrocarbon, nuclear or renewable means. Supplying it requires sustainable development, environmental stewardship, compliance with regulations and cost management. Independent of prices, the industry’s most pressing challenge is cost per unit of energy. Recent layoffs and out-of-the ordinary cuts to capital and operating costs are driving the oil and gas industry to produce energy more efficiently, more safely, and with a smaller carbon footprint. Debate over subsidies, reliability and viability have resulted in accelerated development/deployment and widespread innovation in renewable energy, which includes solar, wind and hydropower, fuel cells, wave and tidal, energy storage, the next generation of fission nuclear reactors and advancements in fusion energy. Continue reading

ANSYS Advantage Magazine: Breakthrough Energy Innovation and Sustainable Design

ANSYS Advantage - Breakthrough Energy Innovation Sustainable Design

Energy systems innovation and sustainable design are key business initiatives in almost every industry sector. And, these initiatives are not only required to meet customer demand for “green products” or to satisfy environmental regulations. Many businesses have realized there is an opportunity to drive new growth with energy innovations. The new issue of ANSYS Advantage highlights the many ways our customers are delivering these energy innovations by leveraging the power of engineering simulation.

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