Industry Experts Agree: Simulation Key to Better Products

Written by: Beverly Spaulding


What’s the difference between a top-performing company and the rest of the pack? Many times, it’s how that company uses simulation. Engineers at these companies don’t wait until it’s time to hand off their designs to analysis. They use simulation as a way to make better decisions all the way through the design process. And it’s not just the big guys. Small- and medium-sized companies use simulation to drive design, too. 

simulation of trailer hitch assembly

Simulation report for trailer hitch assembly created in Creo

We turned to four industry experts to learn more:

How does simulation help engineers design better products?

From the line at the grocery store to the handle of the knife they’re using at dinner, many engineers think they can find a better way to do things. When it comes to design engineering, simulation is that better way.

Monica Schnitger, founder, president and principal analyst of Schnitger Corporation, says, “The point of simulation is to explore a design, understand how it works, and fix potential problems before they materialize.”

By making simulation a routine part of the design regime, Beth Stackpole, contributing editor to Digital Engineering, says engineers can explore how various design iterations and variations will perform in real-world circumstances. “Simulation lets engineering teams explore more possibilities and make trade-off decisions that result in better products.”

Al Dean, editor-in-chief of DEVELOP3D Magazine agrees. “Consider the value and knowledge to be gained from not only having your product documented in three dimensions, but to also start to factor in knowledge of how it will perform under real-world conditions – that’s incredibly powerful,” he says.

Don’t you need to be a simulation expert to build it into your design process?

Since simulation is typically performed by experts, some design engineers wonder whether the learning curve will be steep.

“The vast majority of simulations are important but routine, and don’t need an expert’s involvement,” says Schnitger. “The designer is doing the digital equivalent of build-and-break, trying out a digital prototype to see what works.”

But that doesn’t mean expert analysts no longer contribute, she says. They’re just able to concentrate more on what they’re best at. When engineers optimize the design along the way, “that frees the simulation experts to perform more specialized tasks and to do research into new materials or processes that will, ultimately, make for a better product.”

But what about the cost of new software?

The cost of new simulation software can be a roadblock for companies who don’t look at the bigger picture.

“Added costs for software, hardware or training will be more than covered by speed gains and the savings that result from choosing the optimal design alternative before any expensive material, tooling and partnering decisions are made,” says Monica Schnitger.

Chad Jackson, industry analyst at Lifecycle Insights, summarizes the value of using simulation in design like this: “Basically, the preparation of simulations conducted via CAD software is completed more quickly.”

And that leads to more efficiency and value. “The implication here is that more simulations can be conducted in the same amount of time,” says Jackson. “That means designers and engineers gain more insight. That, in turn, leads to better design decisions.”

Now it’s your turn.

Are you ready to start designing better products in less time with simulation? Read our Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing Simulation Software. It will help you determine the scope of your needs, identify the right software solution, and help you understand the value of using simulation during your design process. If your competitors’ design engineers are already using simulation, you can’t afford to wait.

Download the buyers guide: Selecting the right simulation software

Tags: CAD Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices Predictive Analytics

About the Author

Beverly Spaulding

Beverly Spaulding is a Director of Demand Generation for PTC’s Service and Retail divisions. She is a Boston University alumni with a background in digital marketing, demand generation and B2B marketing. She has a curiosity for technology, data and the science behind marketing.