I spent a day with Dassault Systemes’ SIMULIA team recently at their headquarters in Johnston, Rhode Island, U.S., on the outskirts of Providence, learning about what it means for a manufacturer to use simulation to accelerate innovation. The day wasn’t only about simulation (also known as CAE – Computer Aided Engineering) tools, however.
We also discussed how simulation can fit into a product innovation platform, and be a catalyst for ideation and new product development. Indeed, I think increasingly manufacturers will look more democratically at simulation, not only for verification, but also for early stage and ongoing innovation – complexity, competition, speed, and the expectation for high levels of product quality demands this.
Andy Kalambi, Vice President of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, presented the vision for integrating simulation and analytics into the platform, which is of particular importance in this age - or should I say new normal - of connected products. While Scott Berkey, CEO of the SIMULIA brand of Dassault Systèmes stressed that their simulation applications on the platform enable the accurate analysis of 3D models across a broad spectrum of multiscale and multiphysics domains. Dassault Systèmes states that providing this type of realistic simulation on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform enables the simulation models to be connected from initial requirements, to design and testing, and through the manufacturing, and potentially the in-use operation of the product.
I’ve been writing a lot about ideation and customer needs management (CNM) of late. My view is that ideation and the front end of innovation needs to be redefined – to include idea capture and research of course, but also product portfolio management, costing, road-mapping, and yes, simulation. Essentially, where sales, marketing, and customers, as well as product management, engineering, and manufacturing are all connected and contribute regularly to the innovation process. The team from Dassault Systèmes used the term “conceptual engineering” during the event to describe the expanding role of engineering in manufacturing organizations today, and to emphasize that simulation is critical to enhance ideation, design, and ongoing product/process improvement. I agree, and would add, critical to design and enhance the ultimate customer experience.
Digital twins, or physically-accurate virtual models of products, are powered by simulation. They can be used to manage the operations of products, machinery, manufacturing plants, and other assets; and they can also be applied to enhance the concept and design phases of new product development. Products are so complex today, with increasing levels of software and electrification within, that simulation must be applied at an early stage of product design and development, to validate form, fit, function, and production and verify testing so manufacturers can avoid costly product and process quality issues. As well as accelerate innovation.
I will continue to write about the impact of customer needs management, digital twins, and simulation on product innovation throughout the year and beyond. As always, I welcome your thoughts on these topics.