If you’ve been paying attention to CAE technologies over the past few years, its hard not to pay attention to some of the solutions that automate the execution of simulations. And by automation, I’m not referring to an optimization or design of experiments study off one simulation model. I’m talking about dropping in one kind of design and out the other end comes some simulation results. Well, maybe that’s oversimplified. But you get the general idea.

Now there are many software providers offering such a solution. I recently caught up with one of them, Comet Solutions, to understand what they offer and how its different. Let’s take a look.

Comet Solutions Capabilities

To get things started, let’s look at what capabilities Comet Solutions provides.

Now, let’s be honest. This capability by itself isn’t unique. A number of different software providers claim to pull together a sequence of procedural steps that draw data and information from different models. However, what Comet Solutions can do next is interesting.

This is where things become interesting, especially for conceptual simulation. Early on, the behavior of anything from components all the way up to major systems can be abstracted all the way back to mathematical formulas and logic diagrams. So in the context of simulation, you want and need that kind of simulation representation, at least early on, to plug and play into 2D and 3D simulation models.

Another critical point here is that you can start out with a low fidelity model, maybe one that is very simplified, and replace it later with a more refined or higher fidelity simulation representation. We’ll get into the implications of that capability, but for now just hit that with a highlighter in your mind.

By this tweet, I mean that you can make geometric or FEA modifications, as well as other kinds of simulation modifications, and rerun the automated simulation procedure. So this is where you can explore different design options and alternatives. Of course, there are tools for sensitivity, optimization and design of experiment studies. The concept here is an old one: explore all your alternatives and find a better design. But to do so, you need a solution that reacts robustly to these kinds of changes, which brings us to the last point.

Obviously, this is one of the biggest key points. If the solution can’t support design changes that border on the radical, then many organizations fall back into the standard situation for simulation, which is that there is very little time to conduct them. The organization has to make design decisions without insight into performance. Prototyping and testing becomes your means of exploring performance.

Ultimately, if you are looking at this kind of solution, this is where talking with Comet customers is a crucial step. Make sure to verify just how robust the solution is against design change.

Commentary and Analysis

OK, so what does all this mean? Well, this set of capabilities becomes very interesting in two specific scenarios.

Automating Simulation for Product Concept Design

The first interesting application of this kind of simulation solution is in the concept design phase. Here is how Comet Solutions is relevant there.

So basically, you can setup a parametric driven geometric model that generically represents a component, system or product. Now, a key note here is that this isn’t a detailed design model, but a model built specifically for simulation purposes. Then you can flex that model to represent different product concepts and ideas. Once done robustly, you can drop in new parameters and generate a simulation results very quickly.

The value of such an conceptual simulation shouldn’t be underestimated. Not only does is it beneficial to select and size concepts to fit the needs of the project, it also helps define feasible requirements for the project as well.

Progressively Mature Simulations for Validation

The second scenario supports something akin to a spiral development model, where the performance of a component, system or product are continually assessed during design to ensure that they meet requirements.

If you’ll remember, Comet’s simulation templates can initially be populated with lower fidelity representations. Over time, those lower fidelity representations can be replaced with progressively higher representations, increasing the accuracy at which the simulations predict performance. In this way, the performance of any item never strays too far from the engineer’s intent. That limits the number of surprises when the item goes into simulation validation as well as prototyping and testing.

Simulation Accessibility for the Novice

This last point becomes interesting, as it has the potential to address many of the barriers to successfully using simulation. It circumvents the requirement that engineers know how to use CAE software and the need to know how the simulation method works. The question, of course, comes back to just how robust these templates are. And again, if you’re looking at a solution like this, that is something to thoroughly explore.

Summary and Questions

Let’s recap.

  • Comet Solutions provides procedural templates that automate the execution of simulations.
  • These templates can include a number of different CAE models, ranging from low to high fidelity 1D, 2D or 3D representations.
  • Modifications can be made to the models, even to the point of swapping them out, so new design alternatives and options can be explored.
  • This solution can be used in two distinct scenarios.
  • The first is support of concept simulation, where generically defined models can represent a range of different component, system or product concepts.
  • The second support spiral development, where lower fidelity representations are swapped out for higher fidelity representations. This increases the accuracy of the simulations progressively during the design cycle.

Alright folks. Ready to sound off? If you have thoughts on the scenarios where this kind of solution can be applied, I’d love to hear it.

On one last note, if simulation is a area of interested for you, don’t forget to take the survey for the Simulation Driven Design study. Respondents completing the survey will receive a complimentary copy of the Engineering Manager’s Survival Guide.

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.