Completeness Counts

April 14, 2014:


Today’s CAE software packages have attained a high degree of functionality and a high degree of maturity. Product development is hardly conceivable without numerical simulations. This raises the question of pioneering trends in the field of virtual product development.


The birth of the application of CAE methods in the vehicle concept development dates back to the early 90s. At that time still rather new, it was high time to demonstrate the proficiency of CAE methods in the early stage of product development. Meanwhile, CAE offers a wide range of applications with a high level of functionality. This confirms the NAFEMS study 20131vividly. Asked about the frequent use of CAE software in the product cycle almost one-third of respondents mentioned the concept design phase. The greatest benefit of the use of simulation software is clearly attributed to the improvement of products and components, as well as to identify product weaknesses and shorten development times.

Where there are weaknesses

Limitations in the application of simulation software are due to lack of experience and qualifications of the users which results in difficulties to receive reliable data, argued the respondents. A significantly high proportion of users are asking for tailor-made, specific functionalities and an improvement of user interfaces. Consequently, the results of the NAFEMS studies show changing demands of today’s simulation applications.

While in the past the focus was on the simulation of individual components, today it is the challenge to create a fully virtualized development environment. It is no longer sufficient to connect the individual applications in physics level with each other, but to include also the discipline level into simulation. Therefore, the user’s call for specific, individual simulation applications that combine different disciplines, is the logical consequence.

Example: Audio Systems

Let us explain this on the examples of a loudspeaker in a vehicle. By nature, loudspeakers require a resonance volume in order to achieve optimum performance. However, particularly in the automotive industry, these enclosures have a very complex geometry. For instance, the loudspeaker uses cavities of the vehicle structure as a resonance volume. These complex enclosures require an expansion in the domain of mechanical and acoustic speaker simulation model (electro-magnetic, mechanical and acoustic domain). To create a holistic simulation model, it is necessary to include also the vehicle cabin in the investigation. If, in further steps, the disciplines of industrial design, digital signal processing, binaural audio, psycho-acoustics and tuning will be taken into consideration, a fully virtualized product development environment is being built.

As the above example shows, a holistic view of all subsystems and disciplines, their physical characteristics and boundaries as well as the respective interaction are mutually necessary. Consequently, it is no longer only a matter of electro-acoustic problems for which a solution must be found. Rather, a multi-physicsand multi-disciplinaryapproach is essential.

This example also shows that initially appropriate simulation methods have to be defined in the engineering process. Accordingly, the focus lays not in the improvement of CAE software with features and in further automation. The main focus is clearly to improve the methodology development.How is it possible to simulate a particular product? How is it possible to use existing tools efficiently?

To this end, a comprehensive understanding of the system, involved subsystems and boundaries as well as knowledge of the existing simulation tools is necessary. This knowledge contributes to that the simulation-driven product development uses the simulation methods efficiently to ultimately improve the quality and uniqueness of the products significantly.

Effective solutions provides the process model MVOID® (Multidisciplinary virtually optimized industrial Design). MVOID® couples all electro-mechanical-acoustic characteristics on the basis of appropriate numerical schemes and thus indicates its fully virtualized product development environment. Sound characteristics are virtually measurable and assessable and can be optimized on the virtual model.


1Reference: The NAFEMS Simulation Capability Survey 2013, survey from March to May 2013 with approx. 1.000 participants, issued December 2013, ISBN 978-1-874376-94-1.
NAFEMS: NAFEMS is the International Association of the Engineering Modelling, Analysis and Simulation Community