For the past 15 years, we at EASA have worked closely with our customers to help them increase productivity and usage of modeling and simulation software, and we have uncovered five areas that can provide a surprising boost to your ROI and competitiveness in general along with a possible solution to explore. These are not in any particular order, and naturally, their respective relevance is highly dependent on your specific situation:
The evolution of software and hardware has had a dramatic impact on the way we interact with simulation tools, but this does not mean that the underlying physics and numerics of legacy Fortran programs, spreadsheets or MATLAB computations are any less valid. In fact, these codes often encapsulate years of empirical observations, and are thoroughly “tried and tested”.
Possible Solution: What if there was a way to get that old DOS-based program with text file input modernized with an intuitive GUI and reliable deployment as a web app throughout the enterprise? Companies like Bayer and P&G have avoided the time-consuming and costly option of rewriting by using EASA to breathe new life into their legacy codes.
Modeling and simulation software is typically not “democratized” – not in a form that lends itself to a large corporate user base. EASA was born from the observation that most of the people using modeling and simulation tools are the experts who build the models in the first place – because they are the only ones who can! EASA emerged from one of the most demanding categories of simulation software – computational fluid dynamics (we were part of CFX which was later acquired by ANSYS). Not only was the CFD software itself complicated, but the physics, numerics and gridding issues added additional layers of complexity.
Possible Solution: If more engineers (and other functions such as technical sales staff) could be empowered to use high-end modeling software, the benefit derived can grow significantly. Check out how EASA enables designers with little or no experience in CAD and FEA software to either select or design a bearing based on simple to input requirements.
Excel is a mainstay tool used by countless engineers, either in support of modeling or for modeling itself. Too often, the value of well-developed spreadsheets is greatly limited because of common problems such as lack of version control, poor IP protection, unreliable execution due to mismatches in versions, etc.
Possible Solution: Much more value can be leveraged by transforming these spreadsheets into true collaborative (and browser-based) design tools, and this is an area where EASA uniquely excels – no pun intended.
Simulation and modeling often involves more than one piece of software, for example, there could be MATLAB, databases, Excel and CAE software all contributing to a process. Integration and automation can significantly enhance the throughput, hence the value, particularly for an oft-repeated design process. But, creating your own scripts and coding to accomplish this may not be cost effective or practical.
Direct simulation may be ideal, but for large design space exploration is often prohibitively time and resource consuming. Statistical techniques and automated design space exploration can often point you to near-optimal designs at a fraction of the computational and man-time costs. Various tools, from free shareware to full-blown commercial design optimization packages exist and can often provide far greater utilization and ROI of your modeling software.
Possible Solution: An example at Noesis Solutions.
There are other areas that we have seen companies able to extract greater value from their existing tools, for example license management and load balancing but perhaps the most interesting area is the emergence of a number of cloud-based services available on a “pay as you use” basis for many of the commonly used simulation and modeling packages. If you are not familiar with this take a look at http://www.rescale.com to get an introduction.