Getting It Right the First Time: Product Development through Simulation

Developing an engineering product has a direct relation with the manufacturing time. As a manufacturing firm, staying ahead in the market competition requires substantially reducing the investments in terms of cost and time in design development, manufacturing processes and product marketing.

The situation becomes even worse when there is a need to develop new products to sustain in the cut-throat competitive market. With such time-intense environment, products are required to be designed on a specific schedule, considering organizational constraints and almost no chance for design errors.

Moreover, the increasing complexity of the newly developed products due to improved technologies pose a challenge to engineers to make design decisions that fall right the first time or minimize disruptive design rework.To counter these issues, increasing number of engineering organizations involve simulation techniques in the design process to obtain better insights on product behavior before being physically examined.

Product Development through SimulationProduct Development through Simulation

Role of Simulation Techniques in Product Development :

Simulation techniques such as computational fluid dynamics and finite element methods are already being practiced in the engineering community; and these tools are increasingly becoming popular in industrial applications apart from the academic studies. New and advanced computer algorithms have the capability to solve highly non-linear behavior of the materials and complex turbulent fluid flows, allowing design engineers to figure out the errors and problems in the conceptualized design and fix them in the early product development phase.

The possibility to predict the product behavior also provides the opportunity for the engineers to evaluate alternative design concepts even better, which leads to high quality design.

However, the significant benefit the simulation driven design offers is the ability to shorten the product development cycle, despite the complex design requirements. Since through the simulation process, it is possible to evaluate how the product will function, making possible for the engineers to make accurate design decisions throughout the development process. This in turn reduces the number of prototyping trials required, bringing closer to the development of a design that gets right the first time.

Experimental Vs Computer Simulations :

Considering an example from an automotive industry, the development of a new brake rotor design for better performance and heat rejection capabilities, a conventional process would be developing physical models with different material and design configurations to evaluate the heat transfer capabilities.

Based on the experimental investigations, the best model will be selected. However, the test trials do not provide results instantly; it consumes large amount of time and stretches the development cycle of the product, which indirectly affects the time-to-market in a tight competition scenario.

Simulation driven design on the other hand is performed using virtual experiments, wherein design modifications can be performed without requiring any physical entity. The use of finite element analysis of brake rotors will provide insights on the stress and heat generation due to braking effect, allowing engineers to figure out design configurations and rotor materials that best suit the application.

CFD on the other hand can be utilized to study the impact of air flow in heat dissipation from the rotor, providing details that can be utilized to modify the design of slots in the rotor for better heat transfer rates.

Closure :

Using these simulation tools, it is possible to incorporate design changes virtually, before building a prototype model for experimental examination. The model developed after successful simulations will be much closer to the actual requirements, shortening the development cycle significantly. The simulation technique thus makes possible to develop product designs right the first time itself, and removes any possibility of errors or rework that would otherwise affect the development cycle.

About the Author:

Gaurang Trivedi is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.

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