By Mike Peery
Recently, I was reading a very good article about Simulation Data Management (SDM) by Mark Norris of the NAFEMS Simulation Data Management Working Group. I realized the article is actually a very good status report on the practice of Simulation Data Management. In it, he reports that less than half of all companies who could benefit from SDM are using it. And those that aren’t using it aren’t using another system to manage their simulation data—instead, they’re using nothing at all.
Engineers want to understand everything they can about the physics of the problems they’re studying. Now, that’s possible for several reasons:
- The computing and software power now exist that can process, visualize, and report on thousands of simulation cases.
- The first commercial, off-the-shelf SDM platform was put into production and use by the German car company BMW over ten years ago.
- There is a huge body of knowledge available on the advantages of SDM.
- However, even with all of the above, some engineers still avoid SDM.
Why avoid something that helps?
There are two major reasons engineers sometimes hesitate to use SDM software:
- Cost – Engineers are not yet convinced of the ROI on this investment. This is partly because those companies who are using custom SDM software are finding that it’s not flexible enough to scale to more uses. For instance, if you want your software to import simulation data from other software, you’re stuck. You won’t be able to work with other vendors or outside engineering teams. Real ROI comes from off-the-shelf solutions like Tecplot Chorus (yeah, you knew we’d work a product plug into this post somewhere).
- Lack of understanding – Many engineers think of SDM merely as a way to store large sets of data, whereas in reality, SDM makes that data more robust, allowing you to populate presentation templates for any simulation or a large set of simulations.
Those companies who are using Simulation Data Management are, of course, experiencing great ROI. A few examples:
- Airbus has a $65 million SDM project called CRESEANDO.
- Audi had accumulated 500,000 simulation cases in their SDM by 2010.
- BMW has been using SDM to automate the documentation of input files in simulations, using their engineers for more important tasks.
- Aerospace and automobile companies are using SDMs to enable automation and reduce the time to re-run simulations with modified inputs.
Studies have found that engineers are spending up to half their time searching for simulation data or writing their own macros. Naturally, engineers don’t want to fix what’s not broken. But with the increasing load of simulation data, sooner or later, it will be broken. That’s why we think it’s time to use the full potential of SDM to manage the tsunami of simulation data you’re facing.