Navigating the Product Development Road Trip with Simulation-Led Design

Written by: Robert Farrell Jr.

Read Time: 5 min

The bags are packed, reservations confirmed, everyone is buckled in and you’re ready to roll. A check of the navigation app alerts you to a couple of road construction trouble spots. After a quick adjustment to the itinerary, you hit the open road.

Leveraging today’s technology provides the insight and confidence that you’re on the best path – not hoping for it. But despite similar technology, too many manufacturers are risking the consequences of poor design decisions by navigating new product development based on assumptions. And traveling too far down the wrong road has disastrous consequences.

The Cost of Design Choices

Nearly all would agree that decisions made in the early upstream product design stages have downstream ramifications. But what if I told you that nearly 55% of a product’s total cost is locked in by decisions made at the design stage? Don’t believe it? You’re right to be skeptical – because that number is higher, much higher. Within many organizations the commitment is closer to 80%.

As a result, design exploration, and subsequent innovation, is often limited by time and cost parameters. But what if there were a way to democratize the use of simulation, empowering designers and other non-CAE experts to validate models and ensure that requirements will be met? Such a step would accelerate development while allowing many more design alternatives to be evaluated.

This is the driving force behind Simulation-Led Design (SLD).

What is Simulation-Led Design?

As the name suggests, SLD allows engineering analysis to be employed during the early upstream stage of product design. Much like GPS-based apps guide travelers along the most efficient route, SLD allows designers to quickly and safely interrogate and validate CAD models to ensure that designs are moving in the right direction. Moreover, this approach encourages innovation by allowing more concepts to be explored while accelerating the product development considerably – thus reducing costs and getting products to market faster.

It’s important to note that simulation is not a turf war; and embracing SLD does not diminish the role of CAE experts. Removing the burden to perform basic simulations eliminates bottlenecks and frees these valuable resources to concentrate on addressing complex problems or focus on programs that require the highest level of experience.

Simulation-led design is a methodology with multiple implementation options; and embedding CAD software with simulation capabilities is one popular approach. Although it may sound futuristic, simulation-embedded CAD software has been around for some time. While early attempts were admittedly less than ideal, today’s solutions are exponentially more robust, reliable, easier to use, and are delivering measurable and sustained results.

Measurable Results

For companies that understand its many benefits, mainstreaming simulation into design is becoming the new product development standard. According to a three-year study by Ansys, companies implementing SLD technologies have:

  • Improved engineering productivity, reducing labor and prototype costs by 26-30%
  • Increased product innovation, broadening design space exploration by 40-60%
  • Decreased cost of quality assurance by saving 19-33% on testing costs

These findings represent some of the payback associated with successful SLD implementation. There are many more case studies and documented examples.  

Technology and services providers, independent industry analysts, and respected organizations such as Rev-Sim, ASSESS, NAFEMSCIMdata, and others agree that introducing analysis early in the product development design stage (i.e., simulation-led design) helps to mitigate risks, advance product innovation, optimize performance, and lower development costs.

Is Simulation-Led Design Right for You?

While not requiring an extensive overhaul, SLD implementation is nonetheless a shift that presents both challenges and opportunity. And like all process changes, it isn’t right for all organizations.

Download this paper for a more detailed look at SLD, implementation options, challenges, enabling technologies, case studies, and documented results.

Simulation-Led Design: Democratizing the Power of Simulation

Put simulation in the hands of the designer to accelerate product development and empower decision-making. Learn More
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About the Author

Robert Farrell Jr.

Robert Farrell is President of Farrell MarCom Services, LLC and Co-Founder of Revolution-in-Simulation, LLC (Rev-Sim). Bob is a long-time industry veteran having served in marketing and communication leadership roles for a variety of product development, testing, collaboration, and manufacturing software and service organizations. Today Bob provides marketing communications and content marketing services to B2B technology companies primarily in the software realm.