3 Ways Engineering Simulation Will Impact Your Business

Overview:

Engineering simulation refers to Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) or leveraging software technology, to support engineering efforts and business initiatives.  The intersection of those efforts and initiatives is where engineering simulation will impact your business.  For CAE examples visit "Our Work".

Whether you actively engage in CAE or not, it is around you and influencing your business.  Cost, time to market, compliance, competitive advantage, market share, and product performance are only a fraction of the initiatives improved by the engineering efforts described here.

Three (3) ways engineering simulation will impact your business are presented here, from the lens of our expertise that is specific to flow, thermal, and structural analysis (respectively, Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD and Finite Element Analysis or FEA).  The topic will be covered in three (3) parts, each telling a real world story relating to a specific impact on your business:

Part 1: Avoid Over-Engineering (USB flash drive project)

Part 2: Reduce Time to Production (LED lamp project)

Part 3: Meet Compliance (Structural Flange Project)


Part 1: Avoid Over-Engineering

It costs money.  It also costs weight, time, and complexity to name a few.  It returns a safety factor.  It improves confidence, it is reliable, and it is occurring at your business, to some degree or another.

Over engineering isn’t accidental.  It’s typically a conscious decision made when considering the priorities of cost, internal capabilities, schedules, and numerous other constraints.

The amount of over-engineering is what impacts your business right now.

It is measured by comparing an expectation or specification with an actual behavior or performance.  That is the prediction an engineering simulation makes.  How much margin exists?  How much is needed?  Can it be engineered better? These are the questions we answer everyday at Sim Specialists LLC.

Product Story:A successful USB flash drive product line was scheduled to release a successor with various functionality, technology, and manufacturing updates.  This presented an opportunity to evaluate thermal performance and implement change. 

An engineering simulation of the existing design was fist conducted to compare virtual predictions with the real world performance.  This established a baseline correlation with reality and validated the analysis.

Extracting component temperatures and visualizing thermal profiles for the updated design identified an opportunity to eliminate thermally excessive internal components.

The heat generating integrated circuits (IC's) were originally operating well below their maximum allowable temperature limits.  This was because thermal gap pads were conducting heat to the external housing.  What kind of an impact can this conduction path have on thermal performance?  What if we removed it?

Comparing the thermal performance of the updated design with and without gap pads answered these questions.  Removing the gap pads increased IC temperatures and decreased the external housing temperatures.

A temperature cross section of the system "with gap pads" revealed a near iso-thermal temperature gradient as heat spread throughout the system.  

 

Conversely, the configuration "without gap pads" produced a noticeable temperature differential between IC's and the external housing.  

These trends were plotted to confirm a relatively uniform temperature for the "with gap pads" configuration versus the "without gap pads" configuration which displayed higher IC temperatures and lower external housing temperatures.  

Internal and external temperatures for both configurations did not exceed the design specification.


While the gap pads improved thermal performance, the amount of improvement was excessive.  Removing the gap pads had little influence on meeting reliability, temperature, and other engineering associated specifications.  The impact was in the BOM costs. 


Part 1 Conclusion: 

Expert interpretation of engineering analysis results identified an opportunity to eliminate thermally excessive internal components. The cost of each USB flash drive unit was reduced by $0.20, saving $200k for every million units produced!  

A small reduction in unit costs (a couple of ten cent thermal gap pads), across a large production volume (in the millions), produced a substantial return on efforts to improve product performance.  

You may not produce USB drives, but the theme of over-engineering is relevant and occurring now.  From your products to your competitors.  It is impacting your cost, time, market perception, and competitive advantage.