Numerical optimization has recently gained momentum among engineering and manufacturing companies, where this principle is currently integrated within the product design and development process. It is easy to understand how applying advanced optimization algorithms can help reduce complexity and increase efficiency in the design exploration.
Nowadays, we are in the middle of a multi-disciplinary integration shift. Process complexity is increasing as dispersed and sometimes global engineering teams concur to improve all product performance metrics. Different domain approaches, large number of variables, constraints and objectives related to various disciplines all contribute to achieve the best result. The solution comes from the integration of several powerful simulation tools and the automation of sophisticated workflows into a software platform, which can satisfy the need for cost-effective and repeatable design processes.
Such complex sceneries set a demanding challenge for R&D teams but can turn into a great opportunity for companies willing to embrace the most innovative technologies and a new engineering philosophy. The design process becomes an iterative practice performed efficiently with technology, while the engineer can concentrate on the decision making between compromised solutions quantitatively determined or estimated with the aid of the software.
That’s just the beginning of the advantages of leveraging this powerful technology. On the IT side, the increased availability of distributed computational resources comes from multi-core CPU, HPC, and high-speed interconnections and allows for ever-complex optimization campaigns, while the access to cloud computing permits exploitation of unlimited resources without fixed costs.
The next step is optimization of the product concept. By intervening at the earliest steps of the design process and evaluating the feasibility of certain configurations sooner, companies have the opportunity to boost their innovation assets and take product development to the next level.
By anticipating the simulation phase at the beginning of the product life cycle, optimization tools can considerably reduce design cycle and development time. This often leads to design solutions that otherwise would have been dismissed and that, often times, direct teams to surprising savings. The outcome is better coordination in product strategies and better planning which can alleviate time-to-market pressure.
Upfront optimization becomes a strategic driver and helps shape the new design process: simulation, analysis, decision making, prototyping and testing are optimized to cut costs but the real competitive advantage starts at the product concept level.
Exploring and evaluating configurations before competitors is crucial for companies that strive for the manufacturing of complex products. Understanding key factors and variable dependencies ahead of time allows for dramatic reduction of the design cycle and further contraction of the development costs.