Product Performance Simulation in the Year 2020

Product Performance Simulation in the Year 2020

Marc Halpern, P.E., Ph.D.


This presentation explores the most likely scenarios for the state of product performance simulation technology and practice by the year 2020. The author bases his analysis on experience of nearly twenty years of analyzing these technology trends and studying the behaviour of industrial user communities. The prognostications incorporate the scenario building methodology introduced by Peter Schwartz and the Global Business network during the 1980s and a variety of Gartner, Inc. approaches.

Two primary factors influence the future of product performance simulation. These include 1) the creativity of the communities that conceive and develop those technologies and 2) the motivation of user communities to adapt those and make proper adjustments to their culture and processes.

The author identified twelve of the most promising technology developments within the simulation community emerging today that can further change the landscape by 2020. These are:

1. Stochastic simulation – Ability to model uncontrollable variability in material characteristics, manufacturing precision, and operating environments.

2. Complexity analysis – Ability to detect the relationships among key systems variables based on simulation results. Such capability can be a significant breakthrough towards design of more robust systems

3. Convergence of CAE with gaming technologies – Success would mean access of realistic simulation to much broader non-technical communities

4. Multiphysics simulation – Provides engineers with a deeper insight regarding interacting physical phenomena to make better design choices faster

5. Multidisciplinary simulation – Ability to simulate mechatronic system behaviour by incorporating mechanical, electronics, and software logic into the same models. This will become increasingly important as the number of products with software as a major component increases. For example, Information Communications Technology (ICT) such as the telematics systems in vehicles is a prime example.

6. Advances in materials modelling – This will be significant for simulation technologies to deliver greater value in all industries but particularly medical devices and hi tech electronics

7. Extensions of simulation technology to micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology. The fundamental assumptions of continuum mechanics break down at these scales. So, simulation software requires approaches that depart significantly from the mainstream of finite element