Rethinking Product Development: Why You Should Adopt Simulation

Product development strategy is a core for manufacturing businesses, and remains a focal point from where the growth of an organization propagates. Devising a sound strategy to develop product for the right market and at the right time is what makes businesses successful in fiercely competitive environment.

As such, the pursuit of manufacturing right products in the market has led to the growth of manufacturing technologies and tools that attempt to improve the product design and development process.

The phenomenon however remains the same – understanding the market requirements, collecting information, developing a concept, producing a prototype and improving the design before final launching.

Rethinking Product Development

Over the years, manufacturing businesses have been increasingly utilizing simulation tools as a part of their strategy to shorten the design cycle and make the product development process quicker.

Not too long ago, design and simulation process were required to be performed by specialized engineering staff in order to transfer the CAD geometry to CAE environment, clean up the geometry and apply loading conditions accurately. However, modern CAD environment has improved to a great extent and requires little expertise to perform initial design simulation, without the aid of experts.

Yet, the adoption of simulation techniques is seen only in best-in-class manufacturers; while among others, the use of CAE is slow and skeptical. Comparing the traditional development process and the modern simulation driven approach can clarify the doubts and help manufacturers develop products quicker.

Product Development – The Traditional Approach:

The traditional approach in a product development begins with the development of an initial design, which is used to develop a prototype for experimental tests. The experimental data serve as an input to alter the design in order to meet specific product requirements such as strength, safety, reliability and performance. The process is iterated until a stage is reached where experiments are in good agreement with the expected results.

It is clear that the process is highly time consuming; stretching the product development cycle in a market situation where getting it done quicker is the new mantra.

The conventional model of product development spends very less time in the design phase and focuses more on prototype tests and later performing required design changes in the product. However, research shows a market conditions wherein customers demand for new products with complex requirements and high performance quality, necessitating manufacturers to improve the pace in product development process and faster time-to-market.

Incorporating Simulation:

The complexities with conventional product development approach can be eliminated by incorporating simulation driven design in the preliminary development stages. The virtual testing of the product design prior to prototyping tests provides the opportunity to optimize the design without conducting iterative physical test trials.

The benefits of simulation include:

  • Figuring out potential performance issues early for quick resolution
  • Preventing over-designing and material costs
  • Reducing physical test trials to minimum to save cost and time
  • Predicting product behavior to figure out alternative designs and stand ahead in competition

The potential of simulation driven design can be sensed from a recent research from Aberdeen Group revealing key business value findings for best in class manufacturers that utilize this technology. As per the report, the best in class manufacturers of the most complex products get to market 158 days earlier with $1,900,000 lower product development costs.

For simple products, this value is 21 days and $21,000. The research extends on suggesting that incorporating simulation during the early design phase for product performance prediction is highly beneficial in terms of cost and time-to-market the product.

Modern Simulation Offerings:

Despite a bunch of opportunities and benefits the simulation technique provides, what refrain small manufacturers from adopting this technology is lack of expertise and the associated software and hardware costs. Moreover, simulation tools are required to be operated by specialized staff, increasing the overhead costs. However, modern simulation technology has grown much in the favor of small and mid sized manufacturers. New CAD embedded simulation tools are much easier to operate and performs many of the simulation tasks automatically.

The use of cloud technology for high performance computing is also one of the initiatives in this direction, and is being highly promoted by simulation software industry leaders. Modeling & Simulation as a Service (M&SaaS) proves to be a helpful option for manufacturers skeptical to adopt simulation because of cost. Computer aided engineering is also an emerging opportunity for outsourcing industry; allowing small organizations to outsource CAD and simulation process to engineering outsourcing firms that offer cost-effective services.

Competitive Edge:

As technology continues to evolve with computer prices going down, simulation techniques are destined to become mainstream design tools. As such, it is crucial for small and mid sized manufacturing organizations to rethink their product development strategy by incorporating simulation driven design, to keep pace with the fast changing market.

Developing products that are well-engineered, performance oriented and cost-effective is what the customers demand. Through the aid of modern computational technologies, manufacturers can gain a competitive edge in such a scenario and establish themselves as market leaders, by bringing innovation in products at the right time, and at the right market conditions.

About Author:

Mehul Patel specializes in handling CFD projects for Automobile, Aerospace, Oil and Gas and building HVAC sectors.

(Image Source: ptc.com)

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