The Industry of the Future is underway! The major groups are already on board, but the success of their projects relies on the deployment of digital solutions by their subcontractors.
Digital simulation is one of the ways in which small companies can enhance their performance. We look at some of the preconceptions and good practices in this area.
“An integral part of the Industry of the Future, simulation software is combined with the work of people, who remain at the core of a company’s success,” stresses David Da Silva, Solutions & Customer Services Manager, KEONYS
With increasingly accessible and high-performance solutions, digital simulation offers significant benefits for industry. However, it remains underused by SMEs and SMIs. And yet small and medium-sized businesses have much to gain in terms of time and cost savings, without needing to enter into a cumbersome project that is difficult to implement. Here are some stubborn preconceptions and good practices to adopt in order to move forward.
Digital simulation solutions are financially inaccessible
A digital simulation tool is not necessarily more costly than CAD software. Digital simulation has become perfectly accessible due to the considerable progress made in computing. The same applies for calculators, the price of which has plummeted, while their calculation power and capabilities have greatly increased. The range of solutions is wide – from free to very expensive – and can meet manufacturers’ various needs.
The ROI for digital simulation cannot be measured
Many companies subcontract calculation and design work. However, the costs involved can rapidly become very high in comparison with the acquisition of a digital simulation tool. Digital simulation tools make it possible to reduce the number of tests and prototypes, optimize parts being designed or already existing, and improve quality, while enjoying better control of the product lifecycle. Over the longer term, the acquisition of skills also brings added-value.
People will soon be replaced by digital simulation
Simulation software programs are nothing more than tools. They are essential in order to innovate and be competitive, but they rely solely on the expertise of manufacturers and their job skills. An integral part of the Industry of the Future, simulation software is combined with the work of people, who remain at the core of a company’s success.
Digital simulation is for engineers only
A person with a basic technical qualification is absolutely able to use digital simulation software. An aptitude for mechanics is, however, required in order to grasp the behavior of a structure. A qualification counts less than common sense and job experience.
A calculation expert is a must
While it does require specific training, adapted to the needs of the company, its products and know-how, digital simulation is becoming increasingly simple to grasp. Easy-to-use, it enables designers to perform calculations themselves and rapidly acquire dual expertise. By simply integrating design and materials data, the simulation software calculates everything automatically.
… AND GOOD PRACTICES
Make the simulation tool your own
In mechanics, problems are often separated into two categories: linear, or static problems, with small movements and low stress, and non-linear problems, which are usually considered to be the most difficult to overcome.
This is not necessarily the case today. Non-linear problems are complex because of the need to supply a large amount of information for the model, which can require advanced, and therefore costly, material characterizations. However, once all of the necessary data is available, and all phenomena have been taken into account, with multiphysics simulation for example, software developments and reduced calculation resource costs make it possible to obtain results that can be directly interpreted.
Adopt a qualitative approach
While the recruitment of a digital simulation expert is not necessary, it remains important to bear in mind that the tool will not be initially correlated with the physical model; it is therefore necessary to adopt a pragmatic and qualitative approach based on simulation assumptions established using reliable input parameters.
It is also always preferable to adopt a step-by-step approach, moving from the simplest to the most complex: from the outset, with a simple simulation, it is possible to modify the design and then add other modeling data in order to obtain increasingly accurate results.
Don’t forget common sense
One of the keys to success is to maintain control over the software tool. An aptitude for mechanics, job experience and the user’s technical knowledge of the company’s products, and their application in a real environment, make it possible to put digital simulation to better use.
Work in partnership with specialists
Good practices are not acquired by themselves. While simulation tools are becoming increasingly accessible, it is necessary to learn how to use them properly. Bear in mind that these tools ultimately make it possible to design a product and its process first time round, before the development cycle. Working in collaboration with the integrator will make it possible to get the best out of the solution, the knowledge of needs, the company’s job expertise and the methodologies to be applied.
Moving forward step-by-step means that the user will need to acquire certain methodologies. Each of these make it possible to respond to the specific needs of the company: design office shortcomings, growing benefits of calculation in product development, better control of the design in line with the core business, ramping up and speeding up of activities, etc.
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