How did you first become involved with engineering simulation in your career?
It was actually before I even started my career. I first came across structural simulation while studying for my aerospace engineering degree. After graduating, I took a PhD which included the simulation of semiconductors, involving CFD and magnetohydrodynamics. Then I was hired by Goodyear to work on simulation for tire development and performance.
Why is MSC participating in the Revolution in Simulation initiative?
I saw that materials were under-represented in the simulation industry, so set up my own company in 2003, focusing on the materials aspect of simulation. I now manage MSC, which is a pioneer in simulation. I believe that CAE is fundamental to modern engineering and product development, and I want to pass on knowledge, expertise and new developments, so that anyone who wants to innovate or solve a problem with simulation is provided with accessible tools and information that can help them.
Why is expanding the use of simulation technologies through the democratization of simulation important to your customers?
Everyone who needs simulation should be empowered to use it. And that’s at all levels. The sector is going two ways, both of which are important for our customers. First, the ability to solve complex problems with simulation which is getting closer and closer to reality. And second, it’s becoming easier to handle by anyone in the engineering chain.
I envisage the software being available on almost any type of device – even smartphones and tablets, but it won’t necessarily be the same full simulation. For instance, a PhD may be working on an HPC to solve a highly complex issue, while a board director would just need to see a key indicator. So different aspects of the simulation will be seen by different people, based on their need to know and their need to act on it.
What do you see as the most important benefits?
It shows customers how something behaves; how it breaks, deflates, floats, sounds or flies, without spending time and money building a prototype, so we’re saving on materials and energy consumption, which is important for today’s sustainability requirements.
Simulation gives us the ability to reach more optimal and sustainable outcomes, from selecting an optimal topology or material in R&D, to optimizing a powertrain for overall energy efficiency in one step, to optimizing the production of a component using simulation in conjunction with metrology
Can you share with us an example of a benefit from one of your customers?
Before simulation became more widely available, the ability to create a virtual wind tunnel, for example, was reserved for big companies like Boeing, Airbus and Formula 1 teams, as only they could afford to invest in the knowledge and hardware to run big simulations. Now, everyone can simulate almost anything.
And previously, when a customer was simulating the ‘snap’ of two plastic connectors coming together to see how the parts behave, the structural analysis of the plastic was very rough. But today, when accounting for the microstructure of the material, they can see all the details and orientation of a single fiber and adjust the use of materials and processes to reduce material use and cost for optimal performance.
What are some of the challenges that you have also witnessed?
There have been many challenges. Firstly, the need to change mentality; believe in the results of simulation, and not think that everything has to be test-based. So we had to build trust into the results, and show people that simulation can actually provide more insight into a part’s behavior than a physical test.
Secondly, customers need the right tools in order to classify the problems correctly, ensuring that the issue is sent to the person with the right level of expertise to solve it. The challenge here is to build an appropriate workflow giving the right amount of information to ensure the results provide the right answers, in order to make an informed decision.
What does MSC provide to help industry overcome these hurdles?
Instead of simply supplying a toolbox of general-purpose software, we are increasingly providing vertical solutions so that customers have an integrated end-to-end workflow to solve their specific problem. MSC embraces four solutions-focused concepts: first and foremost we creating more vertical solutions. These combine finite element analyses with AI, a large portfolio of products including manufacturing simulation and also leverage physical data in simulation.
We have also changed the way CAE software is licensed. Through MSCOne tokens an engineering department can set up a pool of resource that can be consumed to access any tool an engineer needs. At a time when engineers are increasingly expected to be multi-skilled, it makes it easier for a mechanical engineer to perform an acoustic analysis, or a manufacturing engineer to optimize the cost of sheet metal production. We have also opened this up to our technology partners, so customers can build workflows using our tools with industry-specialist capabilities that are more optimal without additional sourcing.
Where can readers go to learn more?
MSC’s website, www.mscsoftware.com, has a dedicated SimCompanion section, including a portal to access our community for e-learning, documentation, FAQs, and academia. We believe very much in improving our user experience from A – Z, not only with the software, but also with support and interaction.
Are there any other closing comments you would like to share with our followers?
The key to success is not to think that because it’s a complex problem it should be complex to solve, or needs complex tools. Simulation software developers need to make their products as easy to learn and use, as apps are, on smartphones.
MSC’s simulation software transcends the boundaries between virtual and reality. It’s a vital part of Hexagon’s philosophy of blending engineering and manufacturing together. We give our customers the ability to think about manufacturing at the same time as they think about designing; and to think about quality at the same time as they think about engineering.
Thank you, Roger!