19 Apr Simulation as a tool for the Lean Design Process
Manufacturing industry all over the world strives to find optimal solutions and innovative processes. Many constraints, which often pull in opposite directions, are enforced like shorter time-to-market, cost reduction and so on. The concept of lean design process is becoming familiar, it is a somehow new way of thinking the entire design-production cycle. In this context, simulation tools can play a major role, allowing to meet goals that are at the basis of process improvement. In this post we review some of these concepts and present an innovative solution available today.
Key aspects for a modern, optimal design process
It is possible to identify some fundamental rules that drive the optimal modern design process. Four very important ones that are relevant when talking about simulations are listed and explained here:
- Optimization of product value for the operational value stream: the focus must be on those product features that create value for the end customer, they must be design process drivers.
- Prevention of waste: it is all related with production cost minimization, identifying the “shortest” (read less-waste-productive) path towards the final design which satisfies all constraints.
- Real-time or predictive measurements: anticipating performances is a key point for the entire design phase. It allows to identify and rule out weaknesses as well as leveraging strengths emerged during the very first concept selection.
- Systematic innovation and problem solving: innovation needs the freedom to try, to experiment and out-of-the-box thinking. New optimal solutions often come from exploration of unconventional ideas.
The role of virtualization and simulation tools
Simulation software is basically a virtual laboratory. It allows the user to perform tests on its component provided as a CAD file (a 3D geometry representing its shape). These tools implement a mathematical model able to replicate the physics involved in a broad set of contexts. They allow to measure performances on the object of the study like mechanical resistance, aerodynamic drag, fluid dynamic efficiency, modal displacements, natural frequencies and so on.
The virtual nature of this technology is a key point. Referring to previous paragraph points, it is possible to show how simulations can be adopted to boost every one of those aspects.
With respect to the standard design process, which involves design-prototyping-physical tests, it is possible to explore a much wider set of alternatives in the very first phase, looking for new, unconventional, optimal concepts. Most promising ones can undergo virtual testing, which will provide a preliminary performance estimation in a very straightforward way. Best candidates can then pass to the next design phase in a spiral-shaped method which will result in a ready-to-be-produced component. Physical tests as well as prototyping can be reduced to minimum extent, minimizing costs and waste.
“Integrating simulation tools in the design cycle results in a modern process, which is more flexible, cost-effective and able to sensibly decrease time-to-market.”
The importance of intuitive and cost-effective simulation tools
Simulation software has been present in the market for about 30 years in the context of Fluid Dynamics and even more for Structural Analysis. They have been adopted in a relatively small number of industrial sectors, in particular aerospace and automotive. The reason is mainly linked with the high investments involved. They require high performance hardware which can be quite expensive to buy and to maintain. Licences costs are also very high. Both these two factors limited the adoption of this technology.
But things are changing. Availability of state of the art open source libraries to perform these calculations together with the development of Cloud Computing infrastructures created the possibility for a revolution in the field. Now, every professional, from single freelancers to big companies, passing through SME, have access to this technology at an affordable price with no investment.
This is the main goal of CONSELF, our cloud based simulation platform. It is a state of the art Fluid Dynamics and Finite Element Analysis software that you can use directly inside your common web browser. It leverages cloud computing power, so you can use it even from a tablet. Since we want to bring novice users to the simulation world, the web application is very intuitive, it guides the users through a step by step process, making simulation very straightforward.
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CONSELF wants to make state of the art, cutting edge technology, available to every professional in the globe.
CFD & FEM simulation software is a very powerful tool, with its adoption optimization and innovation can be achieved in every field. To make this instrument accessible to everyone means lowering costs, but mainly to develop an infrastructure that favours a super-easy adoption by market new entrants.
CONSELF is highly committed and will pursue this goal working side by side with professional and industries to define the best strategies and solutions.
Alessandro Palmas – firstname.lastname@example.org