Now that simulation and modeling are common techniques for designing equipment, standards groups are stepping in to add a bit more structure and compatibility for these tools. Two trade associations have paired up to establish a working group that aims to make it simpler to merge engineering analysis with overall systems behavior analysis.
The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and NAFEMS, the International Association of the Engineering Modelling, Analysis and Simulation community, started their effort earlier this year. The two associations, which together have more than 10,000 members,created the Systems Modeling and Simulation Working Group. SMSWG’s goal is to promote a deeper understanding of lifelike behavior to integrate mechanical analysis and simulation within their model-based system engineering initiative.
The founding members include Caterpillar, John Deere, Boeing, Rolls Royce, GM and Ford, along with tool providers Dassault Systemes and MathWorks. As computing power rises and software advances, modeling and simulation tools are increasingly being used to see how subsystems work together.
“Simulation is a major tool for the mainstream,” said Frank Popielas, Manager of Advanced Engineering at Dana Holding Corp. “It really helps people look at how all areas are connected in virtual spaces.”
Popielas, who’s the SMSWG chairman, noted that group’s membership includes a number of transportation companies that are heavy users of modeling and simulation. Many of them, including Dana, continue to push forward, doing more complex tasks in virtual environments instead of building expensive physical prototypes.
“We started on this years ago, gaining expertise in component simulation with high fidelity models,” Popielas said. “Now we’re simulating sub-assemblies like axle assemblies. The next step is to be predictive.”
One of the main goals of the SMSWG is to define best practices and standards for vendors to develop. Another is to help manufacturers to merge engineering analysis with the overall systems behavior analysis to perform more realistic, accurate, and lifelike experiences. Another objective is to ensure that data created by one design or manufacturing team can be transferred efficiently to another team.
“There’s a need to work together, there are so many tools out there,” Popielas said. “End users are pushing for standards, which can also help suppliers. They don’t have to worry that someone else will come up with a standard that they need to change to.”
Long development cycles are a key reason transportation companies are involved in the working group’s efforts. When the infrastructure is built up and communications are simpler, it will be easier for them to make changes in the latter stages of this design cycle.
“There’s a two-year time frame for bringing products to market,” Popielas said. “There should be enough flexibility to make changes during that cycle.”
The benefits will help subsystem suppliers as well as OEMs. The ability to communicate and share the same data files is increasingly important as OEMs and suppliers alike outsource more tasks. When companies work closely together, they need to be sure everyone is working with the same version of files. That ensures that real benefits can be gained with less likelihood of errors.
“Our customers want us to add value,” Popielas said. They want us not only to make sure systems work, but to provide input that can help make the subsystems and the entire vehicle better.”