While industry continues to weather a slowly improving economy, there is optimism among leading vendors in the analysis and simulation software market. In our annual poll of executives in this area, we found that while there is still a long way to go, growth is occurring, and the products are evolving. Other positive trends are strides in high-performance computing, and the increasing use of simulation and analysis at all levels of the development process.
One of the advantages resulting from a slow economy is the increased scrutiny placed on reducing expenses and improving efficiency. This has been the case during the past few years in the simulation and analysis software arena. “The simulation market has continued to grow strongly over the years since 2008 as companies have increasingly moved to simulation to help them reduce the time and costs of expensive physical prototyping,” said Dale Berry, Director of Technical Marketing for Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA.
Companies are looking to increase the efficiency of their engineers, especially in tough economic environments, according to Dr. Jon Friedman, Aerospace, Defense, and Automotive Industry Marketing Manager at MathWorks. “Modeling and simulation is a leading way that companies are reducing their development time while maintaining or increasing the quality of their products. This approach helps engineers explore design alternatives quickly without the need for as much prototype hardware,” Friedman explained.
“Using computer-aided engineering (CAE) earlier in the development cycle is a key way to reduce development time and cost, while still producing innovative products that out-perform the competition,” said Dr. Deryl Snyder, Director of the Aerospace & Defense Business Sector at CD-adapco. In the CAE area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), revenue growth continues to rise at annual rates of about 15% or more, according to Mike Peery, President and CEO of Tecplot. “This is astounding when so many other companies in other industries are losing revenue,” he said.
In some areas of simulation, the way the tools are used continues to evolve. “Multiphysics simulation is going mainstream,” according to Svante Littmarck, President and CEO of COMSOL, Inc. “More engineers are being trained at the university level to use simulation, and they expect it to be part of their work. And more companies are adapting simulation into their product development cycle. It’s an exciting time for simulation, even with the economic headwinds.”
With simulation becoming more mainstream, and designers and engineers using the tools more frequently and earlier in the product development cycle, the roles of analysts and “generalists” are continuing to change. “Design engineers are taking up the task of simulating their products during the design cycles faster than the results are provided by analysts,” said Boris Marovic, Product Marketing Manager at Mentor Graphics’ Mechanical Analysis Division. “This does not mean that analysts will lose their jobs. On the contrary, analysts finally have the time to focus on more important things than doing what-if simulations. Engineers can do these simulations within their familiar CAD environment and quickly make design decisions based on these concurrent simulations.”
According to Peery, “Ten years ago, 90% of our users were specialists. Today, we estimate that 75% of our customers are specialists.” Generalists, explained Peery, are the engineers applying CFD codes who lack the experience and indepth understanding of fluid mechanics that specialists possess. That doesn’t mean the generalists don’t have their own set of benefits. “They have a deep understanding of the engineering problem. They’re best at deciding what analysis needs to be done, to what accuracy, and what the overall benefit of analysis might have on the overall performance goals,” he stated.