On November 3rd, as part of the ANSYS Convergence webinar series, we will presenting an interesting story on how simulation has enabled a well-established company to move rapidly along the innovation curve. That company is Gilbert, Gilkes & Gordon Ltd., aka Gilkes. The company has successfully operated for over 150 years in the Lakes District of the United Kingdom. Their main products are small hydropower systems for generating electricity, and pumps for circulating cooling water in diesel engines.
Hydraulic equipment dates back more than a century, and the designs have evolved slowly with time. Engineering improvements have been experience-based, and design rules and practices have been codified in relatively simple correlations or formulae. This approach worked well for a time, resulting in reliable products that could be manufactured in reasonable time and cost. But more recently, end users demand much more from these products. Factors such as energy efficiency, size and rapid delivery of custom designs have become much more important for a variety of reasons.
In addition the expected operating range of such products may now vary to a much greater extent. Such considerations do not favor an experience-based design system, even if backed up by experimental testing. This is the point at which innovation-enabled simulation can make a significant contribution, not only in a technical sense, but to the competitiveness and financial viability of a company as well.
The adoption of simulation — FEA or CFD — varies considerably with hydraulic companies. Many of the larger companies started with structural simulation and then adopted CFD in earnest in the early ‘90’s. A nice account of the adoption and role of simulation for large hydro turbines appeared in ANSYS Advantage Volume VII, Issue 3, 2013 (“Force of Nature”, by Mirjam Sick and Andritz Hydro). However some smaller companies may still use simulation infrequently or not at all.
Gilkes makes rapid progress
In 2013, Gilkes executives recognized that, to maintain leadership, product innovation was needed. By building in-house expertise in engineering simulation, the company is re-inventing its product line, both quickly and cost-effectively. ANSYS has enabled Gilkes to rapidly move to the state-of-the-art technology appropriate to its machinery in just three years. In this short time the company has been able to:
• Evaluate the software
• Understand its capabilities and limitations
• Acquire hardware
• Train staff
• Deploy the technology
• Dovetail the software into their design system
• Impact product designs
• Impact the business by winning new orders
And this effort applied to both FEA and CFD simulation. Clearly they have made good time!
Gilkes has successfully delivered thousands of machines over its long history. During that time company engineers accumulated considerable knowledge and experience related to their machines and how they are used by customers. Such knowledge is invaluable and essential to the company’s success. Simulation adds the ability to rapidly answer design questions that would otherwise take a long time to answer, if at all. And with more rapid feedback, designers are enabled to innovate in a time frame and at a scale not previously thought possible.
The end result is better products, and, of course, a more viable business in an increasingly demanding, competitive and global marketplace. I encourage you to take a few moments to read the article in ANSYS Advantage and attend the webinar to learn all the details of the innovation-enabled technical and business benefits now enjoyed by Gilkes.