Using Simulation to Make Better Decisions – Part 2

By AlRobertson

In my previous post I started to discuss an outline of the Cost Savings Strategies for Engineering whitepaper by Michelle Boucher of the Aberdeen Group. In it I covered the top design challenges, drivers for change and the performance advantages enjoyed by best-in-class companies that take advantage of using CAE software. In this post I’ll continue and discuss what the best-in-class companies are doing differently and cover some steps for success.

What are the best-in-class doing differently?

The top themes employed by best-in-class companies that address the top challenges mentioned in my previous post include the need for companies to do a better job of predicting real world behavior aiming to ‘get it right first time’. By achieving this goal companies can really benefit from using simulation by significantly reducing physical testing. In the whitepaper Michelle also observes that companies need to be able to evaluate design alternatives. This activity in turn allows trade-off decisions to be made and helps achieve greater profitability. Finally, to uncover design problems earlier in the development cycle, simulation should be leveraged throughout the design process.

How do the most successful companies achieve this? The most significant activity performed by companies to predict real world behavior is the use of virtual prototyping to evaluate product performance.  To do this Michelle observes, they need to use a variety of analysis types to fully represent real world behavior.

One of the tools cited as being helpful in supporting trade-off decisions is control over finite element meshing to create elements. With good mesh control it’s possible to refine the mesh where needed to maintain the accuracy of the solution while simultaneously minimizing both model size and processing time. This in turn allows you to perform more analyses in less time accommodating more trade-off studies.

To identify problems as early as possible, the best-in-class are more likely to take a systematic approach with simulation, and regularly perform analyses throughout the design process. This is one area where the ability to deal with multiple CAD formats becomes important.

Steps for success

In conclusion, Michelle highlights three main areas of focus:

  • Ensure you are doing the right types of analysis to mimic real world behavior

  • Evaluate design alternatives to arrive at the best performing most cost effective design

  • Support a systematic approach to the use of simulation

For a more in-depth discussion, please refer to the whitepaper:  Cost Savings Strategies for Engineering  by Michelle Boucher of the Aberdeen Group. Also available is an exclusive video presented by Michelle that highlights the key takeaways of the whitepaper.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at