As you think about the next five years, what product qualities will be most important to keep your products competitive?
Engineering Decisions Are Critical to Product Success
When we asked 195 manufacturers in a recent Tech-Clarity survey, they said quality, reliability, and cost (see graph) mattered most to them. This reinforces the importance of exceptional engineering and the decisions engineers make every day that directly impact these criteria.
What’s troubling is that 76% of engineers rate decisions that impact these criteria as somewhat hard to extremely difficult. Further, 28% of the time, engineers lack confidence in their decisions. Considering how complex today’s products have become, it is not surprising.
Most Important Qualities That Will Make Products Competitive Over the Next 5 Years
The Impact of Lack of Confidence in Engineering Decisions
So, what do engineers do when they are not so confident about an engineering decision?
What Engineers Do When Less Confident of Design Decisions
As the graph shows, most wait for the results of physical testing or over-engineer to avoid potential problems. While both options compensate for lack of confidence, neither is ideal. Physical tests take time and money. Over-engineering also drives up cost.
Overall, respondents report that the additional steps required to improve confidence waste an average of 4.7 days. Poor decisions have a cost too since they can cause downstream problems that can result in late-stage engineering changes. Unfortunately, late-stage changes are much harder to address as respondents report it takes 98% longer to implement them compared to changes made earlier.
Imagine if engineers could get better insights into their design decisions so they could improve their confidence and make better decisions. How much time and money would it save? This is where simulation for design engineers can help and is an option used by 42%.
Simulation Could Provide Even More Value
In fact, many design engineers find simulation so helpful; 65% said they would like to use it more. Further, 97% agree that that more can be done to help design engineers use simulation. So, what holds design engineers back? Why don’t they use simulation as much as they like? The graph reveals the top reasons.
Why Design Engineers Don’t Use Simulation More Often
Essentially, the tools are not well suited for a design engineer. They require a high level of expertise, prove difficult to use, and take too long.
What if simulation results were instantaneous and embedded right in the design environment so that engineers could run as many simulations as they wanted? When we asked, an overwhelming 96% agreed this would help. We dug a little further to understand what benefits companies expected to see (see graph).
How Would Your Company Benefit If Simulation Results Were Immediate in the Modeling
Basically, companies believe that designs will be better. It will be easier to catch problems early on, avoiding those costly late-stage problems. This will then help minimize delays that impact time to market. Plus, if engineers get regular guidance on their decisions, they don't have to wait for physical test results or take other steps that can add nearly a week as they improve their confidence. If they can simulate more regularly and as often as they want, they can evaluate more options, which will lead to greater optimization and innovation that will make the design more competitive.
Simulation for Design Engineers vs. Analysts
While the research findings pointed to many ways that simulation can help design engineers, we also heard some concerns. Some respondents cautioned that design engineers don't have the knowledge or experience to make the right assumptions required for analysis. They pointed out that "garbage in equals garbage out," meaning the results cannot be trusted.
These are valid concerns, but also consider the differences between how an FEA analyst uses simulation and how a design engineer should use it. FEA analysts are highly trained for the advanced skills required for analysis. Their results must be precise. For design engineers, simulation should provide more directional guidance to help them get better insight into their decisions. The way they use simulation will be different, and likewise, their requirements for a simulation tool will also be unique.
Pick the Right Simulation Software for Your Engineers
To learn more, check out Tech-Clarity’s Real-Time Simulation: Revolutionizing Simulation for Design Engineers. The free research brief reveals the most important qualities top-performing companies look for in a simulation solution for design engineers. Download your copy today.
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About the Author
Michelle Boucher is the Vice President of Research for Engineering Software for research firm Tech-Clarity. Michelle has spent over 20 years in various roles in engineering, marketing, management, and as an analyst. She has broad experience with topics such as product design, simulation, systems engineering, mechatronics, embedded systems, PCB design, improving product performance, process improvement, and mass customization. Ms. Boucher is an experienced researcher and author and has benchmarked over 7000 product development professionals and published over 90 reports on product development best practices. She focuses on helping companies manage the complexity of today’s products, markets, design environments, and value chains to achieve higher profitability.