More VIRTUAL Better REAL Engines

We hear lots of examples of how VIRTUAL simulation can save time and costs and improve quality, well…I’m going to give you another one!

I’ve been talking recently to two REAL engine manufacturers:

Manufacturer A uses virtual simulation in their engine development process (for structural limits, NVH, fatigue, dynamics, lubrification, etc.). They have a big analysis department, but strangely the engine engineers still do a vast majortiy of their simulation on physical prototypes – they just don’t have enough confidence in their virtual simulation processes. Today’s economic situation is cripling this company where teams are much smaller (contractors have been fired), budgets are even tighter BUT better products need to get out of the door faster than ever to stay competitive.

Manufacturer B also uses virtual simulation but it is much more of an integral part of their product development, EVERY engineer or designer has bought in. They are nearly at a point where they can virtually simulate the whole engine, using physical prototypes for the final sign off before going in to production. They have been able to reduce their previous 6 validation cycles, i.e. design + FEA + physical prototype, to 5 or 4 cycles. The first thing that comes to mind is “great, they’ve been able to make significant cost & time savings in removing 2 physical prototypes” and yes they have reduced costs on product development. But what’s interesting is that they have chosen to keep the overall development time as before and use the “extra” time to improve product quality and more importantly improve their ability to bring new ideas to market with greater confidence, i.e. reducing risks.

So what’s the difference between these two manufacturers? Well, to put it plainly, Manufacturer B is using Dassault Systèmes’ products and Manufacturer A isn’t!

Now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s look closer as to why there are differences and how our software has really helped Manufacturer B.

Manufacturer B suffered from the situation below (as Manufacturer A still does). Physical testing would start without sufficient enginering maturity, i.e. new ideas would get modelled in 3D based off the experience of engineers, the parts got made and tested on dynos. Engines are very complex, the engineers can’t think of everything many problems would be found on the dyno, the next cycle would involve some heavy re-design. In other words,

Difficult to reduce program timing because a minimum of physical validations are necessary for a required quality

Now let’s have a look at the same development process but now using tools that allow engineering to be much more mature before physical prototypes are built and tested. So how do these tools provide these values?

  • Integration between disciplines is key to enable cycle times to be reduced. By greatly reducing the need for data preparation and conversion, engineers & analysts can simply get on with defining boundary condition and use cases – reducing pre-processing from weeks to days.
  • Collaboration between disciplines is obviously required and now it’s a whole lot easier when the all data is stored in the same database under the same reference numbers. This means any one can find the information associated with the parts they are interested in, and even push the data to colleagues for their review.
  • Extensive portfolio of quality simulation tools from linear, non-linear, NVH, MBD, System Engineering, fatigue. There’s no point having simulation tools if they don’t accuractely simulate real life…

Thus, integrated simulation tools can now be an integral part of the engineering process by providing early input into the feasibility of new ideas and continous validation of detailed designs right up to the moment when physical prototypes are needed for final validation. This may all happen so much quicker that the prototypes can be built earlier!

On-time engineering maturity per prototype provides the opportunity to reduce the number of total validation steps

I hope this post has given you an idea of just how simulation can and does help product development today and will be very much part of all future development.

Let me know your thought…

Sustainably yours,


Jonathan Dutton

Jonathan Dutton

Jonathan Dutton is Marketing Director, Transportation & Mobility Industry at Dassault Systèmes