Arvind Krishnan

Aras Innovator: The Advantages of Accessing Simulation Data in Your Product Lifecycle Management Solution

May 25, 2021

As part of technology-led initiatives, many engineering organizations have adopted both simulation and product lifecycle management (PLM) to help drive and optimize product development efforts. Today, these companies often must rely on a variety of simulation products to meet their needs. Yet, engineering change orders (ECOs), which can come from any step in the product …

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Aras Innovator: The Advantages of Accessing Simulation Data in Your Product Lifecycle Management Solution

As part of technology-led initiatives, many engineering organizations have adopted both simulation and product lifecycle management (PLM) to help drive and optimize product development efforts. Today, these companies often must rely on a variety of simulation products to meet their needs. Yet, engineering change orders (ECOs), which can come from any step in the product lifecycle, can be more efficiently managed when simulation data is easily viewed inside PLM. 

Aras Innovator Manages Simulation Data

Today’s complex, connected products undergo a dynamic and challenging lifecycle. A solution like Aras Innovator, a complete end-to-end PLM platform that can support product development from requirements to the factory floor, can help engineering organizations better manage the entire process. 

The complexity of today’s products means engineers must rely on simulations during design. As the degree of sophistication increases, it becomes more likely engineers will need to run physics-based simulations. Traditionally, engineers use various simulation packages to do this kind of work. Now, they can access data from all of these different analyses using Aras Innovator’s digital thread capability.

With a platform like Aras Innovator in place, engineers can investigate the various simulations performed on different parts and assemblies of a particular product. They can access simulation results and verify that they satisfy even the most complex of product requirements. They can also easily request new simulations when initiating an ECO. In this post, we use a case study to illustrate the benefits of this kind of workflow.

Advantages of Managing Simulation Data Inside Aras Innovator

Traditionally, verifying that requirements are satisfied has been anything but easy. Engineers request simulations from several different analysts. Each of those analysts run their simulations and provide results. Engineers must then view and interpret those results while tracking requirements satisfaction in spreadsheets and documents. This process is inefficient for all parties, leads to human error, and ultimately results in false positives.

Aras Innovator dispenses with this cumbersome process, allowing engineers to request simulations, view the results, and relate those results to requirements, all within a single platform. This approach has substantial advantages. 

To start, making the simulation data available in a single, comprehensive digital thread allows engineers and other stakeholders to use it as needed—whether they have direct access to the simulation software or not. We all know that simulation software is expensive and often requires high-end hardware to run properly. As such, many organizations limit the number of licenses to those who need them the most. But, too often, that means engineers who don’t run the simulations, but need to view the results, won’t have access to the data they need. The ability to view simulation results inside Aras Innovator solves this frustrating issue.

Secondly, ECO requests can come from various stakeholders at different steps of the product lifecycle. They can originate from anywhere in the value chain. When that ECO dictates new requirements, new simulations often may be needed. These requests can be handled much more efficiently, especially with regards to functional requirements that might be affected by an ECO, when you have all the necessary simulation-related data tied to a digital thread. It means that any person who initiates an ECO can see how the change affects the product’s performance. The requesters and the engineering team can also check the satisfaction of the original requirements under the ECO, saving costly time and rework that might occur down the line if a critical simulation is somehow missed. The workflow is seamless when you can control the process using Aras Innovator.

Simulation Management Inside Aras Innovator: A Case Study

This seamless workflow can be better illustrated by a simple case study.

Consider a linear actuator manufacturer. The maintenance team is observing repeated failure of a particular part out in the field. After careful review, the team recommends producing the component using a different material—a much stronger, denser plastic. But how can the maintenance team be certain this new material will pass all of the requirements for the product as a whole?

Once this ECO is disseminated to the product development team, the design engineer is immediately notified. She can use the Aras Innovator platform to review all the different simulation results pertaining to that part in the past. She accesses the rigid body dynamics, vibration analysis, and stress analysis simulations that were performed at the beginning of the design process to validate the existing engineering requirements for this vital component. After looking over the past simulation data, the design engineer can easily initiate new simulations using the new plastic material.

In this case study, the model, material properties, mesh, and the results of interest have already been defined. The design engineer can quickly run new simulations based on the material change. What’s more, everyone can see the impact of this new material on all the requirements. The Aras Innovator platform makes it simple for other members of the engineering organization to review and verify the new simulation data against the product requirements to make sure they have all been effectively satisfied. If the simulations show that requirements have been met, the product development team can then confidently decide to approve the suggested material change. If the requirements aren’t met, they can then brainstorm new material ideas to deal with the part failure issue.

When the new material is verified and selected, the engineering organization can then go ahead and change the bill of materials (BOM) and computer-aided design (CAD) model. All of those changes are then propagated and communicated to all product development stakeholders. Using a digital thread to connect the design, simulation, reliability, and maintenance processes allows for a fluid workflow that saves significant time, money, and frustration across the enterprise.

Takeaways

Product manufacturing organizations rely on PLM systems for a good reason: They can help streamline design and production while minimizing costs and resources. When organizations can directly access simulation data in their PLM systems as part of a digital thread, they, in effect, enhance those advantageous capabilities. When companies use platforms like Aras Innovator, they can visualize all of the existing simulation data, from set-up to material to results, and then automatically verify that they satisfy the product’s requirements. Furthermore, if an ECO comes down the pipeline, whether from the design team or a downstream player like reliability or maintenance, the platform notifies the design engineer, who can then easily run and share new simulation results to support smarter design-related decision making. Manufacturers that harness a PLM system that can capture all of these events and more are better positioned not only to construct today’s more complex products, but to save time and resources in the process.

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