Executive summary—Wingtip devices are intended to reduce aircraft drag through partial recovery of the tip vortex energy. Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) used Noesis Solutions’ Optimus to automate and couple FEM and CFD simulations to identify optimized winglet design configurations offering operational and environmental benefits. Optimus realized a 1.2% reduction in aircraft takeoff weight for a typical mission profile at 1G cruise speed. It achieved this by balancing the aerodynamic benefits and weight penalties of a passenger aircraft model integrating wing reinforcement to withstand winglet induced loads. Optimus’ design of experiments (DOE) and response surface modeling (RSM) capabilities helped FHI engineers understand the impact of winglet characteristics on aircraft performance up-front. Global design optimization enabled them to reduce the aircraft’s cruise drag by 4% and its takeoff weight by 676 kilograms, while respecting the shock induced separation (SIS) airflow constraint. Continue reading
Pratt & Miller Engineering evolved from a small business focused on designing and building race cars into a full-service engineering and low-volume manufacturing company serving a global customer base in the defense, automotive and powersports industries. After evaluating multiple optimization tools, Pratt & Miller selected Red Cedar Technology’s HEEDS MDO and its SHERPA algorithm as the only optimization technology that could solve its highly constrained models. Continue reading
Ford Motor Company adopted ESTECO’s SOMO as a tool to enable what it terms an enterprise multidisciplinary design optimization (EMDO) system, announced Dr. Yan Fu, technical leader of business strategy and engineering optimization at Ford. SOMO is an enterprise collaboration and distributed execution framework developed by ESTECO and customized to meet Ford’s engineering processes and IT requirements.
Ford’s move affirms two key points we have long observed:
- MDO is a strategic capability for engineering organizations, not just tactical.
- To have strategic impact, MDO needs to be institutionalized at the enterprise level, not implemented as just a departmental or workgroup capability.
The power of numerical optimization in engineering design is its ability to rationally and rapidly search through alternatives for the best possible design(s). Parameters in a design that can be varied to search for a “best” design are design variables. Given these, design can be structured as the process of finding the minimum or maximum of some attribute, termed the objective function. For a design to be acceptable, it also must satisfy certain requirements, or design constraints. Optimization is the process of automatically changing the design variables to identify the minimum or maximum of the objective function while satisfying all the required design constraints. [This survey of design optimization methods is in complement to our recent review of design exploration techniques. See also Design exploration vs. design optimization.] Continue reading
Most often applied to manufactured product development, design exploration and optimization also hold potential to improve—some would say, bring long-overdue transformation to—the engineering of constructed assets: commercial and residential buildings, discrete manufacturing facilities, process and power plants, offshore platforms. While some EPC firms serving process/power and offshore markets have made substantial progress with these tools and methods, the A/E industry still has far to go in tapping their considerable potential to improve building design and manufacturing facility engineering. With the mounting economic, environmental and public-policy pressures to deliver higher-performing built assets, we expect to see DOE, MDO, Pareto optimization and robustness/reliability optimization increasingly utilized by firms engaged in architecture, engineering, construction and asset operation. Continue reading
Discussions of how to simulate early in product development fixate too often on FEA, overlooking the power of systems modeling and 0D/1D simulation for studying, exploring and optimizing designs at the beginning of projects, when product geometry is seldom available for 3D CAE but engineering decision-making can have its greatest impact and leverage on project success. Continue reading
In conceptual and preliminary design, many aspects of mechanical products are most efficiently modeled for simulation using 0D/1D/rigid entities. In vehicle drivelines, for example, these include beams, bushings, bearings, point masses and the like. Combining these models with other product components best represented by 2D/3D CAE models can yield systems models that are highly revealing in design exploration activities such as parameter studies, design of experiments and optimization runs. But bringing multiple levels of fidelity together in a single model has conventionally been a labor-intensive manual process, severely limiting the number of design variants able to be studied this way when not precluding the practice altogether.
While mainstream CAE vendors are beginning to progress on this front, breakthrough technologies addressing the problem are available today that work with the industry’s leading solvers. Continue reading
Design space exploration is both a class of quantitative methods and a category of software tools for systematically and automatically exploring very large numbers of design alternatives and identifying those with the most optimal performance parameters. The mathematical techniques that underpin design space exploration have been long known—and sometimes applied, in cases where the attendant costs in expertise, time and labor could be justified. What’s changing now is the way fresh software technologies are at last converting these powerful but formerly difficult-to-use methods into practical everyday engineering aids. Continue reading
Design optimization is the search for a structural design that is optimal in one or more respects. In all the various methods available for optimization, the design is guided to satisfy operating limits imposed on the response of the structure, and by further limits on the values that the structural parameters can assume. The power of numerical optimization is its ability to rationally and rapidly search through alternatives for the best possible design(s). Continue reading