Nov 21 2014

Simulating Success in the Automotive Manufacturing Industries

digital_to_real_automotive_manufacturingContinuing from my prior post, another example of the role that digital manufacturing and simulation plays comes from the Automobili Lamborghini Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL) at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA), which blends aerospace and automotive composite development. Working with Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the ACSL improves certification of new composite materials and structures, often based on proven virtual testing principles pioneered for Lamborghini automobiles.

ACSL and Boeing collaborated on advanced analysis methods for predicting the crash performance of the all-composite monocoque of Lamborghini’s Aventador automobile. Aventador passed its crash-test certification on the first try; previous models required two or three tests. At $1 million per crash, savings were substantial, even without factoring in time and cost saved by not building additional test vehicles. See figure above.

A Complete Paradigm Shift

While such programs go beyond industry standards in employing virtual testing, Dr. R. Byron Pipes, John Bray Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering at Purdue University (USA), believes they don’t go far enough.

Current trends in virtual testing of new composites is only an incremental improvement, Pipes believes, not the complete paradigm shift needed to unshackle composite development. “We are still struggling with empirical-based manufacturing and (physical) testing-based certification,” he said. “It costs $100 million per material to qualify composites to fly on a new airframe. Once certified, materials changes are economically impossible.”

Dr. Pipes describes composite development today as dominated by experiments and only aided by analysis. “We have the computational power to change this paradigm and replace thousands of (physical) tests with robust multi-scale simulation of manufacturing and performance,” he said. “Only then will we enable innovations in materials composition and processing without repeated costly recertification.”

Reducing Uncertainty

Today, manufacturers physically test every element before it is assembled and every part before it goes on an airplane, contributing to unsustainable development cycles and costs. “You will never totally escape the need for (physical) testing to validate models, but we must address the issue of certainty in simulation results, or rather, how to manage uncertainty,” Dr. Pipes said. “Simulation tools can guide understanding of uncertainty in design and also how it propagates.”

Using virtual simulations, Cobham Life Support reduced destructive tests on a NASA fuel tank by 50%, saving $500,000.

To demonstrate the potential of the approach, Dr. Pipes cites the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Due to the US moratorium on nuclear device testing, NNSA, a division of the US Department of Energy, cannot conduct full-scale physical performance testing. “About 15 to 20 years ago, we defined a road map of what was needed to achieve simulation-based certification,” said Dr. Mark Anderson, technical advisor to the NNSA from Los Alamos National Laboratory, a US government- supported research agency. Key elements of this road map include: transition to a validated predictive capability based on multi-scale, physics-based computer simulation and quantification of uncertainty in NNSA’ simulation tools.

Balancing Physical and Virtual

Dr. Anderson believes composites modeling can be advanced by adapting the NNSA approach. “For most industries, what would be the most appropriate is a balance between the historical testing-based approach and this simulation/uncertainty quantification based approach,” Anderson said. He notes that although significant theory has gone into composite industry models, many still use a simple mathematical description that fits empirical test data.

Uncertainty quantification (UQ) involves managing both parametric uncertainty and model-form uncertainty. “There is an investment to be made up front, both in time and money,” Dr. Anderson said. “But by building simulation capability, it is possible to reduce testing costs from $500,000 to $100,000, for example.” He notes that US-based automotive maker General Motors has used UQ in crash-test simulations and that NASA is incorporating it into the space agency’s simulation tools to aid with tests it cannot perform physically, such as reactions in a space environment or full-structure tests that are beyond the scope of its current budget.

The result is the potential for “robust design” – high performance without the overdesign needed to compensate for uncertainty. Robust design factors uncertainty directly into the model, producing designs that are less sensitive to uncertainty, with less bet-hedging overdesign.

 

This excerpt was originally published in Dassault Systèmes’ Compass magazine, and was used with permission. Read the full article here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/11/simulating-success-in-the-automotive-manufacturing-industries/

Nov 18 2014

Simulating Success in the A&D Manufacturing Industry

digital manufacturing can be used to simulate final product in aerospace and defense manufacturingAdvanced composite materials make up most of the wing, fuselage and tail for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, plus a high percentage of the primary structures in other major aircraft in development. One look at Boeing and Airbus ideas for future commercial aircraft — blended wing bodies, structures that mimic bones, shape-changing flight surfaces and energy-capturing interiors — and the expectations for composites are clear.

Advanced composite materials are being developed to enable such products, some of which are not feasible with today’s materials. Manufacturing and especially development costs are barriers to such expanded applications, however. One reason: The decades-old building- block approach to certifying composites for use in aircraft requires thousands of costly physical tests.

Replacing at least some of these physical tests with virtual simulations (digital manufacturing) is emerging across the composites manufacturing spectrum as a promising method of documenting the effectiveness of new composite materials, advanced design tools and manufacturing processes faster and more cost-effectively. Few predict that computer-based simulation will eliminate physical testing altogether. But many see a future where simulation and computer-aided analysis play a significantly larger role in streamlining development cycles and reducing costs.

“Simulation tools can guide understanding of uncertainty in design and also how it propagates.”

Flattening the Pyramid

One example of virtual testing’s promise comes from the first spacecraft fuel tank designed to disintegrate upon reentry. The carbon-fiber composites design is made by Cobham Life Support in Westminster, Maryland (USA), for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Global Precipitation Measurement Satellite. Thanks in part to extensive use of computer-aided design and testing, Cobham’s development program met all of NASA’s targets: cost, schedule and a host of demanding technical requirements.

Cobham’s process reduced the number of destructive tests by 50%, saving roughly $500,000 over the 38-month program. “Our testing and analysis worked hand-in-hand to improve efficiency,” explained Robert Grande, business manager for Cobham. “We fed real material properties from tests into the models and then used physical testing to validate the results as we iterated the design. Because our test results matched our analytical predictions, from subcomponents to pressure burst and fatigue testing on the full tank, we completed the full qualification by the time we finished the design.”

“Simulation tools can guide understanding of uncertainty in design and also how it propagates,” stated Dr. R. Byron Pipes, John Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Purdue University.

 

This article is an excerpt, originally published in Dassault Systèmes’ Compass magazine, and was used with permission. Read the full article here.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/11/simulating-success-in-the-ad-manufacturing-industry/

Nov 13 2014

Lessons for Manufacturers in Product Design from Modern Warfare

learning_product_design_from_modern_warfareIndustrial companies are often perceived as lumbering giants that have difficulty responding to competitive pressures and capitalizing on market trends. Design cycles can last years—not just for developing new products but also for making upgrades to the existing portfolio.

Why are many industrial manufacturers so sluggish? In my experience, these companies have traditionally relied on a top-down, linear process that moves projects through design gates, also called stage gates. The approach is often slow and bureaucratic, and its mechanical nature can stifle creativity.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Industrial companies can take a page from the fast-moving world of software design and adopt a sprint-and-scrum approach. This iterative process relies on short cycles involving rapid design evolution and revision. The sprint is a period of concentrated effort, such as engineering or coding a module, by individuals or small teams. At the end of each sprint, stakeholders from the key functions come together for the scrum, where they review progress and clarify goals for the next sprint. The intense nature helps bring the organization together toward a common goal, and avoids the tedium that can set in with a long stage-gate process.

 


Lessons in Product Design from Modern Warfare—In Pictures

Click here to view this slideshow.


 

Leaders of industrial companies might worry that this approach won’t suit their complex needs. But a review of recent history shows that sprint and scrum predates the software industry, and has been used to develop many of the most complicated designs in human history. Consider the following examples:

  • The Supermarine Spitfire, which was the main Royal Air Force fighter aircraft during World War II. At the outset of the war, the British realized that to be successful in the Atlantic theater, the aircraft would need significant improvements. Between 1936 and 1945, it changed engines, its loaded weight doubled, and its maximum speed increased by 90 miles per hour. The rapid evolution of the plane was possible only because of its iterative design and testing approach.
  • At the start of the Cold War, Andrei Sakharov began designing the first Soviet thermonuclear device in 1949. After the device failed early performance tests, Sakharov and his team made two quick design iterations, resulting in “Sakharov’s Third Idea,” which led to a successful detonation in November 1955. The entire design cycle with three iterations was completed in only six years.
  • In the United States, the Saturn V rocket program started in 1961 with the seemingly impossible goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. To meet the timeline, the rocket’s three stages and instrument unit were developed in parallel by four companies, each of which further compressed schedules by using parallel testing and development. Saturn V rockets were ready for use as part of the Apollo lunar missions just eight years later.

 

People may argue that the speed of such efforts was possible only because of enormous budgets and the sense of urgency imparted by war. And it’s a valid point: Over the last 1,000 years, large-scale warfare has proven itself time and again to be the single biggest catalyst for economic and technological innovation. But a closer look reveals that the decision to iterate these projects quickly and decisively—essentially, to sprint and scrum—was what largely enabled their success.

Taking a sprint-and-scrum approach will bring most industrial manufacturers into uncharted waters. But I’ve seen firsthand how effectively the process can accelerate design and lead to better results. It reveals risks early on, it minimizes project management overhead, and most importantly, it energizes staff by showcasing achievements and fostering open communication.

As their competitive pressures mount, industrial companies should take note. It’s time to remove the shackles that the stage-gate process can place on design. Whether they are shooting for the moon or just looking for a way to quickly reset their product’s cost positioning, the sprint-and-scrum approach will help companies get there.

 

This is an adapted piece from strategy+business magazine. To read the full article, see “Warfare, Software, and Industrial Design.” Reprinted with permission from the strategy+business website, published by PwC Strategy& Inc. © 2014 PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/11/lessons-for-manufacturers-in-product-design-from-modern-warfare/

Nov 11 2014

5 Steps To Building A Safety Culture In Your Manufacturing Plant

safety_manufacturingMaintaining a safe work environment in your manufacturing plant is vital for your employees’ well-being and continued productivity. Accidents cost you money with a loss of trained workers, reduced production and increased insurance premiums.

Here are five steps you can take to integrate safety as a core company value.

1. Embrace a Culture of Safety

Safety really starts at the top. You can preach as much as you want to about a safe working environment, but if you do not back this up with actions, your words are meaningless. You also need to make each worker responsible for safety. Having one person acting as a safety manager is fine, but all employees must feel involved.

EHSToday states that the best way to increase safety is by leading. It is also important that all managers or supervisors are on board with the safety program. Too often, in an effort to increase production, short cuts are taken in safety. Your team leaders must understand that everyone will gain more in the long-term by avoiding accidents that increase costs and slow production.

2. Continuously Evaluate Your Plant

You know technology changes rapidly. This also means that your equipment and operating procedures are changing along with it. Even minor changes in how machinery is connected to computers can leave you with a safety issue. A loose connection could electrocute someone.

As manufacturers increasingly adapt mobile solutions to manage processes, communicate or seek approvals, be sure to explain the importance of being aware of your surroundings and to not try and multi-task while walking on the shop floor. There are simply too many potential safety issues that could wipe out any productivity enhancements from your technology investments.

You have the opportunity to observe your employees. If you notice a staff member not working safely, find out why. The answers will help you to achieve your safety goals.

3. Talk to Your Employees

You already know that you have to train your employees in safety procedures. This has never changed. What you may not be doing is talking to them. Take the time to talk to different operating groups or teams. You need to ask what can be done to improve the safety of each individual job.

The workers that are operating the equipment in your plant are the ones that are familiar with the hazards. They probably also have some good ideas on how to make improvements. You may find the shields for machinery no longer function properly and need replacement. Workstations may be arranged in ways that do not contribute to comfortable working conditions. Ergonomics is part of overall safety and a comfortable employee is more productive.

4. Use the Good and Remove the Bad

Technology has made plant safety easier and more difficult at the same time. The old method of using a hand-held radio with earmuff-style headphones was not a great method of communicating with workers, especially equipment operators. Now you can just send a text to your operator when you need him.

The problem? Texting, or reading text messages, while driving or operating anything is a bad idea. The situation becomes worse with smartphones that can play your favorite videos. You need to establish clear boundaries for your employees when it comes to cellphone use.

5. Keep Your Safety Culture Growing

It is not enough to start a safety program and turn your back on it. Unfortunately, some individuals will prefer the seemingly easier way of doing business. Once you move onto other subjects, your safety priorities get swept in a corner.

Another tip provided by EHSToday is to not hold safety meetings or safety training. Hold on — this does not mean what you may think. Eliminate the word “safety” from your meetings and training sessions. You hold production meetings and manufacturing training. Safety becomes a critical component of your daily business — not just the thought for the day.

If you cannot convince your staff of the importance of safety, offer them this example: An outbreak of E. coli at a plant in Alberta, Canada has left more than 2,000 workers without jobs. This does not even touch on the number of consumers that became ill or the other costs the manufacturing plant may face. One mistake really can shut down everything.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/11/5-steps-to-building-a-safety-culture-in-your-manufacturing-plant/

Nov 06 2014

Driverless Vehicles Driving Manufacturing – Part 2

Autonomous driving will impact automotive manufacturingI began this topic in my last post with a commentary on a recent partnership announcement between Dassault Systèmes and AKKA Technologies (read Part 1 of this post here). The goal for this partnership is to offer high-end engineering services and solutions to help the global automotive industry. Having already explored the complexity and technology required to move this concept forward, my focus now will be to take a closer look at the safety and customer acceptance issues that must also be overcome.

Safety and Regulatory Compliance

Safety and regulatory issues will obviously be an important concern for manufacturers once driverless cars are on the market. The manufacturing industry will need to focus on accurately recording process and part information (including code options) to quickly identify and resolve problems as they arise.

More specifically, manufacturing driverless vehicles require a much higher level of genealogy and traceability in the process because when something goes wrong in the autonomous world, it’s not a minor blip—it has the potential of being a catastrophe. If there ever is a problem, the data available to support the build of a vehicle, what went into it, and who did what—you can’t wait around for three days to get that information. It needs to be available immediately because you have to ascertain the scope of the problem so that you can address it in the timeliest way possible. From an autonomous vehicle standpoint, everything will need to be done at a much higher level of responsiveness than previously required—both in production, and then having the information available post-production.

Here is where it makes a lot of sense for partnerships to be established in the manufacturing world. Engineering and Manufacturing will need to work closely together to overcome the significant challenge that lies ahead in the world of autonomous, self-driving vehicles. Here is a glimpse from the Minority Report film as to what might be possible in our future, albeit a future that might be a century from now!

 

Consumer Acceptance

The automotive manufacturing industry has embraced the autonomous vehicle future, but consumers may still be skeptical. The biggest challenge with consumers will be convincing them that driverless vehicles are safe. Consumers are quickly getting comfortable with vehicles that can drive down long stretches of highway in clear conditions, but safety and capability concerns quickly emerge when thinking about autonomous cars that can maneuver within densely populated urban environments.

There’s a big difference of driving a mile on a freeway vs. driving a mile in the city. There’s so many more objects that have to be identified and dealt with. This includes vehicles running perpendicular to you, traffic signs, traffic signals, parked cars, pedestrians, and then you’ve got the city construction crew that just decided to close the lane because they’re going to do some pothole repairs this morning. That’s typically not going to be on a pre-digitized map of any type.

Regardless of the fact that driverless vehicles aren’t exactly in the mainstream yet – driver-assisted   functionality is routinely available in the luxury segment and rapidly moving down into other segments. The transition will certainly be gradual over time. But, given the importance of maintaining innovation and establishing demand for new models, I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear of new, related announcements in the not so distant future. This is a “sexy” topic, as Tesla has shown. Therefore, the manufacturing industry must stay one step ahead to show that these ideas can not only be built, and but can be done while adapting to new engineering designs, new production process as well as a whole new level of tractability and genealogy requirements that will certainly be daunting to those without robust systems to accommodate!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.apriso.com/blog/2014/11/driverless-vehicles-driving-manufacturing-part-2/

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