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Business Challenges: Communication

Business Challenges:Communication

Overcoming Communication Barriers

A. Karl, Rolls-Royce

The rise of more and more computing power makes simulation and modeling of real system behavior possible and hence simulation and modeling can now influence design decisions and not just be an after the fact analysis of a given design. However, in recent years the world of simulation and modelling has become more and more specialized. The tools and methods developed by software vendors become more and more sophisticated and hence require more and more expert knowledge. In addition, the simulation and modeling community moves more and more to multi-disciplinary simulations coupling multiple areas of expertise in integrated systems models.

Typical issues we have seen with the above trends are a lack of understanding between the various parties involved in the simulation and modeling activity. Executives may not understand the jargon and details of the simulation and modeling community and hence may not realize the business impact this community can have on design decisions and the company bottom line. In addition, there is also the communication barrier between the various silos of the simulation and modeling community. This barrier is driven first by the differences in the various specialist tools and methods and second in the “language” used by the different teams. A common understanding is missing and the real benefit of simulation and modeling cannot be realized.

The presentation will try to address some of these issues. The introduction of Systems Engineering is a way of overcoming some of the communication barriers between the various areas by using simple and graphical tools to relay the information between the teams. Using the idea of Systems Engineering also drives the development of the appropriate multi-disciplinary simulation and modeling systems via a top down approach and link to business requirements. Using these principles the communication barriers can be overcome and simulation and modeling can become a true business asset.

Communication with Non-Technical Executives

F. Popielas, SMS_ThinkTank™

OEMs and suppliers need to remain competitive. To accomplish this, a systems modeling and simulation approach to product development should be adopted to address the increasingly complex products being developed to satisfy customer demands. For that, innovation is a key differentiator. The adoption of systems modeling and simulation methods and best practices is not an easy task. Challenges include, existing “traditional” company cultures that need to be addressed, establishing a proper foundational infrastructure, ensure a collaborative engineering environment and providing the proper resources, to name just some. Typically, to obtain funding and create the necessary roadmap to achieve success, the decision makers, which most likely don’t have the deep technical knowledge required to understand the project’s technical challenges and complexities, must be convinced of the project’s benefits. Therefore, the technical experts need to be able to present the benefits to the executives in a “language” that the decision makers understand. Key phrases, like IoT, Model-based enterprise, digital manufacturing, etc. alone will not cut it. Besides the impact on the bottom and top line, management and executives are looking for a better understanding on how the adoption of system modeling and simulation helps to achieve a certain market position through the many benefits that it drives. Some of these will be highlighted in this short presentation.


  • Andrew Wood, NAFEMS

An Introduction to the Business Challenges "2020" Series

  • Joe Walsh, ASSESS


  • Alexander Karl, Rolls-Royce Corporation
  • Frank Popielas, SMS_ThinkTank™

Q & A Session






Note: The presentation and recording files are only available to NAFEMS members. To access the password for this webinar, login with your member credentials, and then click here.



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Simulation 2020


Dr. Alexander Karl, Rolls-Royce

Associate Fellow – Robust Design and Systems Engineering


Alexander holds a PhD and MSc in Aerospace technology from the University of Stuttgart in Germany. He has 15+ years of work experience with Rolls-Royce. During this period, Alexander was working in several major sites and sectors (Dahlewitz, Derby and Indianapolis). Alexander’s background is thermo-mechanical analysis but for the last 12+ years Alexander is working actively in the area of multi-disciplinary optimization, Robust Design (Design for Six Sigma) and Systems Engineering. He is also an active member of NAFEMS and ERCOFTAC, promoting a wider application of these methods, processes and tools.

Current position / Tasks

His main focus is the application of tools, methods and processes to real engineering challenges. His current focus within Rolls-Royce is the global pervasive implementation of Robust Design and Systems Engineering within the company.



Mr. Frank Popielas, SMS_ThinkTank™

Managing Partner, SMS_ThinkTank™ & Executive Consultant, CIMdata


Frank PopielasMr. Popielas is currently Managing Partner of SMS_ThinkTank™ and Executive Consultant for CIMdata. He has over 20 years of global experience in engineering and R&D product and materials development, as well as testing, with a specific focus on the development and application of simulation tools, and the establishment of the required supporting infrastructure at Dana Holding Corporation. His responsibilities span application engineer supporting European customers, R&D Project Manager for one of the major product lines Multi-Layer Steel (MLS) gaskets, IP management lead for this product line, technology transfer and exchange with cooperation partners (focus on Russia), establishing, developing and expanding CAE capabilities on divisional and corporate level. This is supported by over 35 granted patents globally on the areas of sealing, shielding and fuel cells, over 30 publications globally covering all the mentioned areas with the main focus on the past decade on virtual engineering, its tools and practices, presentations and speaking engagements at conferences, and companies beyond Dana, interviews, case studies, teaching engagements at high schools and community colleges.

The focus on CAE moved Mr. Popielas in 1999 from Germany to the USA where he founded the Advanced Engineering Department to accelerate the implementation of CAE in North America and make it a global practice for the Power Technology Division. In order to be able create the proper infrastructure for CAE on the long run, utilizing synergies between business units and creating cost benefits Frank founded in 2003 the Dana CAE Council. This allowed the standardization of software suites among the business units, creating foundational practices independent of the product, coordination of development activities, and the implementation if a global HPC infrastructure, which meanwhile went through several hardware generations.Based on the development activities and the need for more upfront predictive capabilities lead to a much more structured processes in engineering utilizing the virtual approach. This naturally resulted in the requirement for CAE democratization, thus becoming one of the thought leaders in SPDM. Through continues engagement with customers and other companies Frank became member of the NAFEMS Americas Steering committee in 2011 helping this process further, even beyond Dana.

The next logical step was to go beyond the products and sub-assemblies towards systems. There he became in 2013 the founding chairman of the System Modeling and Simulation Working Group (SMSWG), a joint WG between NAFEMS and INCOSE. At the same time, he elevated the Dana CAE Council to the next level – the SMS Council, incorporating for example also systems related areas, like software development, digital manufacturing, among others, as well as further pushing standards to foster democratization and communication between areas. This included technologies, like FMI. On the infrastructure side, the development included Cloud computing and virtual desktop infrastructure. This incorporated the development of a long-term SMS roadmap, conduction for that a companywide assessment in those areas based on CMMI.

Mr. Popielas was born in Germany, and received his MSc degree in Engineering, majoring in Theoretical Physics from the Technological University (MIS&A – Institute for Steels and Alloys) in Moscow, Russia. Frank is fluent in English, German and Russian.