Why Startups and New Players are Driving Innovation in the Space 2.0 Arena

With a clear mission in mind, huge government funding and thousands of talented scientists, the early pioneers of space exploration were disrupting innovators, able to achieve what many thought impossible. Then organizations grew in size, and projects and goals multiplied while public funding was often in doubt. Despite other significant success, this led to a slowdown in the innovation pace. Now, another wave of innovators has come: Space 2.0 players.

With no history, no legacy of tools and processes and no constraints in workflow design, they were able in a few years to attract huge private funds and challenge the leadership of the big established players.

Both the old players and the newcomers rely on simulation, but I see a big difference in the results they get in terms of efficiency, costs and innovation pace. The secret is in how they implement it.

Simulation is widely used in space 2.0 projects

A multiphysics approach since the beginning
A lot of companies claim to work with a multiphysics approach, while to me they are just using multiple physics; that is, they are doing different physics simulations sequentially rather than simultaneously. This is mostly due to their old organization structure, with siloed departments based on huge but narrow expertise. This structure led them to prefer a single or sequential physics approach.

Startups and new players have a huge advantage: They can start from scratch and design their organization around the key problems they have to solve, not around the physics they want to master. They simulate a system starting from ROM, then escalate to 2-D and 3-D simulations, but always in a multiphysics environment that enables better behavioral predictions and faster response.

A real simulation platform
In a platform, everything works seamlessly in an interconnected manner. What many companies call a platform often turns out to be more a collection of dozens of tools, Spreadsheets and in-house codes with linking routines to translate and exchange data in a large, cumbersome workflow.

Such “platforms” carry huge hidden costs in time spent to manage data and maintain all the codes together with the risks of data loss and induced errors.  The Aberdeen Group highlights this phenomenon in one of its research reports. Space 2.0 companies have simpler and faster processes with a much lower TCO of the whole simulation environment.

real simulation platform brings real benefits space 2.0A collaboration space
On top of what I’ve explained above, Space 2.0 companies are making simulation central to product development from the start. Through knowledge management tools like ANSYS EKM, they build a project collaboration system that gathers all team members around a single virtual drawing table and helps them to solve complex problems together while learning from each other’s experience.

Simulation Driven Product Development
Too many companies still use simulation too late in their design process, usually through a small group of specialized analysts. Nowadays, with engineering groups asking for more and more simulation, this workload cannot be sustained by the analysts only.

Space 2.0 companies adopt  simpler but very effective simulation tools to open the simulation process up to designers and other professionals on staff.on pre-design. These tools are easy to be learned, highly-automated, and based on powerful algorithms. This arrangement allows experts to work on the toughest problems while designers can explore thousands of hypotheses by themselves, at a lower cost.

Optimization and HPC
For Space 2.0 companies optimization is an obsession because of the savings it brings in production and maintenance throughout the product’s’ operational life. They take advantage of HPC capabilities on workstations, servers, and the cloud to increase flexibility. They consider the speed and reliability of the simulation platform to be critical to their success.

Embedded software automatic generation
If the embedded software fails, the entire system will fail as well. Engineers need to design, write, test and certify hundreds of millions of lines of code. Space 2.0 companies must to develop and test control codes together with the hardware, in an integrated platform. They rely on automatic coding, which has proven to save up to 50 percent in time and costs over the course of years, not weeks.

Newcomers are bringing a new, fresh approach to complex product development in the Space 2.0 environment. Not limited by their legacy, they embrace from the start the full power of simulation, putting in place all the best practices that are giving the results collected in an e-book that you can download here.

Now the question for the big, established players is if they will be able to change and adapt to keep their leadership. What do you think?

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About Paolo Colombo

Paolo Colombo is the Aerospace & Defense Global Industry Director at ANSYS. He was born in Italy in 1970, joined the Air Force as student pilot in 1992 and, though his career took a different path, he is still regularly flying. From 1999 his passion for advanced technologies brought him to work with companies' managers and executives on emerging technologies in product engineering, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing and engineering simulation. He joined ANSYS in 2010. Paolo holds a BSc and an MBA majoring in Innovation management.