Integrating analysis with the product design process is one of the most talked about topics in the analysis community today. Software vendors, industrial users, and engineering managers all realize the vital importance of timely integration of analysis in the design process, but the visions, opinions and priorities placed on this can vary from one company to the next.
The reality is that many questions remain unanswered -
In it's role as The International Association for the Engineering Analysis Community, NAFEMS aimed to bring the industry together in order to answer these questions.
The Symposium on the Integration of Analysis in Product Design was the first event of its kind, and provided attendees with a truly unique insight into how the industry is prepared to handle the challenges ahead.
In a roundtable format, industry leaders shared their vision for the future of analysis as an integrated component in product design.
Attendees were given the opportunity to hear directly from the developers how they plan to handle the integration challenges that they will be facing in the coming years. The floor was opened for participants to question, challenge or expand on the plans described by the panelists.
Additionally, attendees were given the opportunity to learn how others facing similar challenges have resolved their integration issues.
The panel for the symposium consisted of representatives from major players in the analysis world.
- Tim Morris - NAFEMS
- Bill Brothers - ABAQUS
- May Taylor - UGS
- Juan Betts - LMS
- Ronald Banchak – Belcan
- Vince Adams - Solidworks
- Dennis Nagy - CD-Adapco
In summary, resulting from the panel discussion, several key points of interest developed. In particular, the main barriers to the integration of analysis within the design process were of interest. Throughout the session, a number of different viewpoints were shared among the attendees.
Several panel members noted that some of the major barriers being dealt with are relative to the accessibility of these new tools, as well as the time and education necessary to use them accurately and efficiently.
One panel member compared this issue to someone driving down the road while trying to change a flat tire – no one is stopping to take the time because a process has not been established to allow a designer to make use of these new tools. When people encounter problems using new tools, they will always go back to what they are most comfortable with.
Another barrier pointed out, was that between the designers and analysts. Typically, there is a lack of communication between these two groups. It was recommended that a form of “checks-and-balances” or collaboration should be set in place. It was also noted by that suppliers of analysis software should work more closely with the users of the software to ensure that there is a good understanding of how to implement and affect a successful process change to appropriately integrate these new tools into the product development process.
Unfortunately, time and money seem to be the primary catalysts for management, but not an optimal one. Why? Because management is seeking a fast return on investment (ROI), and not looking beyond these incentives to explore greater returns such as higher quality parts or innovative designs.
It was also pointed out that if the process is not broken, why fix it. Typical human nature dictates that under stress people will revert to what they know best. The typical design engineering process does not afford one the luxury of having the extra time to introduce a process change. Therefore, introductions of new processes will be slow. There are schedules that must be maintained and it is difficult to introduce a product where you have tight development schedules.
An additional barrier exists as companies become more global. How do you integrate design processes across different cultures and languages? It is too difficult to standardize all data exchanged.
During the symposium, questions arose relative to what aspect of design and analysis integration would have the most impact on the bottom line. One panel member stated that there needs to be access to an optimization method, which will then promote innovation.
How do people optimize if they do not know what they are optimizing? If you do not know the critical parameters which are sensitive to a particular design, it is almost impossible to take advantage of the tools which provide these techniques.
Special thanks go to Vince Adams at SolidWorks for his hard work in ensuring the success of this event.