In the webinar ‘The Changing World of Simulation’ Monica Schnitger, founder, president, and principal analyst at Schnitger Corporation gives us the lay of the land in terms of where we are in the world of simulation and where it looks like we’re headed.
The webinar is packed with insights and ideas from the industry expert. Delivered in her clear and concise style, it will give anyone interested in charting a way forward in the rapidly changing climate that simulation engineering finds itself in plenty to think about.
Before you head on over to listen to the full webinar, here’s a quick taster of what’s in store.
It’s true, they're not cheap. But considering the kinds of things that these tools offer, is it really expensive in the greater scheme of things? For a start, simulation often lets you do things that you couldn't otherwise do, enabling you to replace a lot of costs that you would otherwise have to incur. When you opt for a simulation, that $200,000 that you’re no longer spending on a physical prototype doesn’t go towards just acquiring lots of simulation technology, it also buys you the ability to do far more design iterations than you otherwise would have.
If you're still thinking that it's too expensive, talk to your vendors because there are more buying options now than ever before. There are lots of different choices that you have today if initial cost is an obstacle for you, for example, subscription options and token options. Another way around the cost issue is to buy the tools that you use every day n outsource those you don’t have experience in-house to use every day. Yes, each use will be more expensive, but the total cost may not be.
It goes without saying that you need to be able to make a return on your investment (ROI). If your managers are complaining about the expense, make an ROI argument to them. Do ‘costs avoided’ like those physical prototypes you're not doing; figure out what quantifiable costs you're not incurring, perhaps in terms of materials, tooling for example, or time and cost of carrying out different kinds of outreach with customer focus panels to figure out whether or not this or that design is suitable. Think big and think broadly and make the argument that these tools are worth investing in.
Often, the biggest problem is measuring the cost of innovation and therefore the avoided downside of that innovation cost. However, most people that do try to make an argument for the return on investment for simulation come up with very positive numbers. It is doable, you just have to be creative in how you think about costs and returns.
This is a huge philosophical argument that a lot of people get lost in, but the bottom line is that you need to look at what these tools do for you and why you're buying them in the first place. For a lot of people, a platform is simpler because it means dealing with one vendor and getting lots of solutions in there – when push comes to shove, a lot of these solutions are equally capable. But there may be certain point solutions that do exactly the thing that you need, so don't discount those. You may have someone with significant expertise that gives you a competitive advantage using a tool that's not inside a particular platform, don’t discount the value of that, figure out a way to get them that tool. This is because again, these tools are meant to do something that you need them to do i.e., you're trying to solve difficult problems and you need to use the best tools for the job.
There are a lot of people who, because of Covid-19, are more comfortable with the cloud than they ever were before. That doesn't mean it's for everybody and it doesn't mean it's for everybody right now. One of the things that I encourage people to be careful about is thinking that the cloud is somehow unlimited. It is if you're willing to pay enough, but it really isn't because you have to pay per use, per CPU hour etc. If you think that the cloud is an unlimited capacity, you're going to get a very big bill at some point, and that is going to be an utter shock to the system. Make sure that you have a plan for how you're going to use the compute resources that you have access to, whether that includes the cloud or not. And just be conscious of sending jobs out into the ether, in the expectation that they will be solved and solved quickly and cheaply, this isn’t always the case.
The answer is, sort of; not yet but soon. The fact is, digital twins of new things are absolutely a thing. Evidence suggests that a lot of companies are now looking at selling digital twins along with the physical object itself. However, the vast majority of the world is not new things. Existing factories are older and their production lines are older too, which means figuring out a digital twin of an older operating asset, not a simple thing to do.
But, if you're looking ahead on your personal career path or what your organization can do, start thinking about how you will provide digital twins for the products that are going to be released in the next couple of years because I think that is an expectation that is only going to grow.
Over the next decade or so we're going to see simulation in lots more places and it's going to be easier and faster than ever before. There are lots of new technologies that are coming into play that more and more people are going to wind up using. Simulation is going to feature earlier in the design process than it ever has been because we’ll need to make sure that we're leveraging the power of simulation as early as possible to get the most benefit. I think that ultimately, simulation is going to be embedded into many business processes rather than just being the sole preserve of engineers and designers.
*This excerpt has been edited and condensed.
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