Trends for 2011
While virtual prototyping continues to be a trend in the analysis and simulation software arena, other important trends also will become prominent in 2011, according to our panel of experts. One of those trends is the growing interest in the use of simulation data management (SDM) or product lifecycle management (PLM) by analysts and general users. This is causing vendors to create new capabilities for SDM and PLM.
For example, with the latest version of their multiphysics software, COMSOL has included database features for the analyst to document and keep track of creations and changes to every piece of the model and simulation, according to Littmarck. “For documentation, production, future enhancements, and maintenance purposes, PLM-type features are necessary in a package for modeling and simulation. Such features shorten time to market, increase quality control, and aid investigation into critical failures.”
Peery explained that Tecplot also has added workflow integration and management features to their products. “We’re very aware of how important this is. We’ve created layout files so work can be easily saved, restored, and archived in their systems, and decisions can be traced back to the original idea.” But PLM systems are still not easy to navigate, added Peery. “There is a very heavy overhead associated with getting data into existing PLM systems. So, there is a lot of work we can do to make it easy and compatible.”
Added Vaughn, “Our observation is that most organizations are not sure yet how, why, or when to include simulation data in their PLM system. There is also growing interest and development of SLM. Our approach has been to listen carefully to our customers in terms of their future requirements and to position our products to be ready if and when the customers require a PLM or SLM interface.”
The most important trend for next year is an increase in the use of simulation, and the number and types of engineers who will be using the software. “Software and embedded systems will continue to grow in impact, importance, complexity, and power through 2011,” stated Friedman.
Littmarck agreed that “analysis tools will become increasingly more powerful, easier to use, and more connected to – and even embedded in – other software systems used by complementary groups of specialists or managers.”
The demand for simulation will also result in software being used in new applications. “Simulation software will continue to find new and specialized applications that will expand the demand from both traditional users and new users in industries such as off-shore, alternative energy, and medical,” predicted Weinberg. “The demand will be supported by the increases in advanced analysis product offerings at every price point.”
Both analysts and generalists having the right tool for the job is an important consideration for vendors. Said Vaughn, “I see a trend that engineers and their management are realizing that, in fact, they need a toolbox, and that one tool does not fit all jobs. My prediction is that what remains of the 1990s trend to reduce software vendors will turn back in favor of encouraging competition and making sure that engineers have the right tool for each job.”
Added Klimpke, “Given the reluctance of business to increase hiring, some designers will have to get involved in parts of designs that were previously not in their realm.” As a result, said Klimpke, the tools they use must be easy to learn and supported well by the vendor.
High-performance computing enhancements also will impact simulation and analysis next year. “As the industry makes strides in making high-performance computing more prevalent and more affordable, organizations will want to leverage engineering simulation tools to find not just a good design, but the optimal design,” explained Choudhury.
“Social networking for simulation, simulation on the cloud, and high-performance computing are all trends – evolving or developing – that vendors will increasingly need to pay attention to,” said Berry.