There’s been a fair amount of chatter about “shift left” recently. If I understand it correctly, it refers to the practice of focusing on quality at the start of a project which would require you to identify and fix problems as they arise through the process.
A recent article I read made me think about this concept and how it may apply to the CAE market. In the article, one of the interviewees said “[shift left] says take the existing tools and try and make them work better together without changing the flow much. We need to rethink how we do design if we are going to help it get faster.” I agree that trying to use a square peg in a round hole is not very efficient and may very well require use of brute force (which is not in the spirit of this discussion). But asking companies to examine and change their processes is something that is much easier said than done. Not every company can or will change their processes without a good business reason. If the pain is not big enough what’s the motivating factor to change? So people, much like heat, go through the path of least resistance and reach for step changes which provide some relief and process improvement.
In the CAE market we’ve been talking about “shift left” for a few years – I remember talking about integrating structural analysis and CAD with SolidWorks’ John Hirschtick at a tradeshow in 1995 (or was it ’96?). Anyway, by moving simulation upfront you can identify problems earlier. And yeah you can use existing tools to achieve significant process improvement. But (and it’s a big but) it depends on the tool you’re using!
You can’t take software that was designed 30+ years ago for analysts, keep adding bells and whistles to it to ensure that it can simulate very complex physics and then ask the design engineer to use it. It’s not that design engineers aren’t capable of learning how to use the tool. It’s the complexity of the tool which hinders its adoption during the design process. You can’t spend a week on finding the right mesh when all you’re looking for during the early stages is trends … You want to get it going and get it going fast.
Our family of CFD solutions was built with the speed of the design process in mind. For example, FloTHERM XT is an award-winning CAD-centric electronics cooling simulation solution which can help remove the risks associated with the thermal aspects of the design as early as possible. And because it integrates easily into your existing process (and as a bonus even closes the gap with the EDA design flow), you don’t need a grand upheaval of your design process to benefit from analysis earlier. Let’s take a look at what I mean.
Compared with traditional tools, with FloTHERM XT the overall process from model building through to result analysis can be compressed by at least 50% (as shown in the figure). How? Well, FloTHERM XT eliminates the need to clean the CAD geometry or to simplify it in order to be able to generate the mesh. It also eliminates the time spent improving the mesh in order to reduce mesh distortion inherent in body-fitted meshes that impact convergence and result quality. I can talk about this stuff until the cows come home but for the sake of brevity I won’t. If you’re intrigued, then please follow this link and take a closer look at it.
FloTHERM XT … making”shift left” easy in the world of electronics cooling.
Until next time,