Benefits of a managed hardware/software HPC appliance for CAE design exploration

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Source: Stanley Black & Decker

Last week’s case study looked at how Stanley Black & Decker’s DeWALT Industrial Tools brand optimized the efficiency and user comfort of its products at the same time as their robustness and durability with Altair’s AcuSolve, HyperMesh and HyperStudy software. This week’s story is how Stanley Black & Decker chose Altair’s HyperWorks Unlimited appliance to optimize its CAE processes for power tool design. The fully managed HPC system includes unlimited license for the HyperWorks suite of solvers, design exploration, meshing and visualization products as well as the PBS Works suite for HPC workload management.

Challenge: Improving the capacity for design optimization and innovation

As a global power tool leader, Stanley Black & Decker (SBD) is constantly seeking ways to maintain a competitive edge and bring better-performing products to market faster. In particular, when it came to optimizing the hammer mechanism design for their top-selling rotary hammers, SBD engineers knew they needed a CAE-based approach.

“The hammer business is extremely competitive, and rotary hammers are the most complex power tools on the market, so we have to use the most innovative methods available to optimize performance,” said Andreas Syma, Director of Global Computer Aided Engineering at SBD. “Optimization by CAE is the only realistic way to achieve this; the requirements are just too complex to rely on experience based knowledge or pure physical testing.”

CAE-based optimization enables engineers to:

  • Handle the extremely high complexity of a physical product
  • Test several hundreds of designs at a time
  • Provide a deeper understanding of how the product physics works

“Real optimization is only possible with computer-aided methods,” explains Syma. “There is only so far you can take a system with physical testing—you have to explore how the physics works at a higher level, made possible with CAE, to gain new insights and see what is needed to improve the system. The simulation-based optimization approach gives a very high reward on engineering work, in terms of performance, durability, cost and weight—it results in a much higher-value product, especially when applied early in the process.”

Previously SBD had been using workstations running LS-DYNA with an optimization runtime of about three weeks. “A three-week runtime wasn’t sufficient to stay competitive—our goal was a runtime of one weekend, where our engineers could start a job Friday and have the results Monday,” said Syma.

SBD team members knew they needed more computational power to drive desired performance improvements, but they were concerned about simply investing in more hardware or compute cores for three reasons:

  • Cost of high-performance computing (HPC) hardware/cores
  • Effort to maintain and support a complex HPC system
  • Ability to fully leverage this hardware with the necessary software licenses to keep utilization high

In other words, even if SBD could justify the expense of acquiring and maintaining an HPC system, could the company ensure availability of the required costly CAE software licenses, and maximize utilization of these licenses on the system?

“We understood the business case and knew this method was necessary—but we were unsure whether a traditional hardware solution would give us the results we wanted, regarding calculation time for the optimization methods. We didn’t want to make a hardware investment and then have trouble getting the results we needed,” says Syma.

Solution: HyperWorks Unlimited with Altair solvers

SBD secured offers from three leading HPC hardware providers but were still concerned about the additional licensing cost necessary to truly take advantage of the system—to optimize use of the software licenses in a cost-effective way. The complexity of managing an HPC system was also a concern.

Then Altair introduced SBD to HyperWorks Unlimited, a fully-managed HPC appliance for CAE. This turnkey appliance includes pre-configured HPC hardware and software, with unlimited use of all HyperWorks applications plus PBS Works for HPC workload management.

The team was already familiar with Altair software, in particular the structural analysis solver RADIOSS as well as HyperMesh, HyperView and MotionSolve. SBD engineers ran a benchmark study that proved RADIOSS in conjunction with HyperStudy would be equivalent in accuracy and performance to the LS-DYNA/optiSLang solution they had been using. Based on the results, SBD decided to move forward with the Altair HyperWorks Unlimited solution.

“RADIOSS with HyperStudy is proven to perform just as well as our LS-DYNA solution with optiSLang,” said Syma. “We also investigated more products in the HyperWorks suite and found their inclusion made HyperWorks Unlimited even more attractive—a traditional HPC system plus a standalone solver license purchase doesn’t provide the same value. And having a single provider as reliable as Altair means we just make one call for support on any part of the solution—hardware or software. This is the way HPC should be for all CAE engineers—this simple, this powerful, this reliable.”

Result: Expanded CAE capabilities for unlimited exploration

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Source: Stanley Black & Decker

SBD chose a 160-core HyperWorks Unlimited system, which Altair delivered and installed in just a few days. “The system just works,” says Syma. “It’s bringing up our utilization with no performance or maintenance issues to date. HyperWorks Unlimited is exactly what we needed, top-performing solvers packaged and delivered on pre-configured hardware that’s easy to setup and use. It also comes with a full suite of CAE and HPC products that will scale up to meet all our optimization requirements, without the need to worry about buying more licenses. All the configuration work is done for us, we have all the software we need for unlimited exploration, and it’s affordable. It’s almost too good to be true,” says Syma.

Altair provides full support for HyperWorks Unlimited hardware and software, a very important decision factor for SBD. “We’re new to HPC, so our IT team needed to feel comfortable that the solution would be easy to manage without hiring new staff or slowing down our engineers. With HyperWorks Unlimited, we don’t have to be HPC experts to get the top performance we need from our CAE applications.”

Now SBD engineers have new optimization capabilities and can embrace simulation-driven exploration to meet their design requirements, exploring concepts more deeply, reducing cycle times and making better decisions faster. Engineers can perform their optimization runs over a weekend instead of a week. SBD plans to expand usage at its current site and then bring the same level of HPC capabilities to other sites.

“We already knew Altair had some of the top-performing solvers on the market, like MotionSolve and RADIOSS,” says Syma. “With HyperWorks Unlimited, Altair has introduced a truly groundbreaking solution that sets a new standard for design exploration. Altair proved the total value of HyperWorks Unlimited was far superior to purchasing dedicated HPC hardware or extending our existing licenses.”