When ANSYS, Inc. released their ANSYS AIM product they didn’t just introduce a better way to do simulation, they introduced a tool that will change the way we all do simulation. A bold statement, but after PADT has used the tool here, and worked with customers who are using it, we feel confident that this is a software package will drive that level of change. It enables the type of change that will drive down schedule time and cost for product development, and allow companies to use simulation more effectively to drive their product development towards better performance and robustness.
It’s Time for a Productivity Increase
If you have been doing simulation as long as I have (29 years for me) you have heard it before. And sometimes it was true. GUI’s on solvers was the first big change I saw. Then came robust 3D tetrahedral meshing, which we coasted on for a while until fully associative and parametric CAD connections made another giant step forward in productivity and simulation accuracy. Then more recently, robust CFD meshing of dirty geometry. And of course HPC improvements on the solver side.
That was then. Right now everyone is happily working away in their tool of choice, simulating their physics of choice. ANSYS Mechanical for structural, ANSYS Fluent for fluids, and maybe ANSYS HFSS for electromagnetics. Insert your tool of choice, it doesn’t really matter. They are all best-in-breed advanced tools for doing a certain type of physical simulation. Most users are actually pretty happy. But if you talk to their managers or methods engineers, you find less happiness. Why? They want more engineers to have access to these great tools and they also want people to be working together more with less specialization.
Putting it all Together in One Place
ANSYS AIM is, among many other things, an answer to this need. Instead of one new way of doing something or a new breakthrough feature, it is more of a product that puts everything together to deliver a step change in productivity. It is built on top of these same world class best-in-bread solvers. But from the ground up it is an environment that enables productivity, processes, ease-of-use, collaboration, and automation. All in one tool, with one interface.
Changing the Way Simulation is Done
Before we list where we see things changing, let’s repeat that list of what AIM brings to the table, because those key deliverables in the software are what are driving the change:
- Improved Productivity
- Standardized Processes
- True Ease-of-Use
- Inherent Collaboration
- Intuitive Automation
- Single Interface
Each of these on their own would be good, but together, they allow a fundamental shift in how a simulation tool can be used. And here are the seven way we predict you will be doing things differently.
1) Standardized processes across an organization
The workflow in ANSYS AIM is process oriented from the beginning, which is a key step in standardizing processes. This is amplified by tools that allow users, not just programmers, to create templates, capturing the preferred steps for a given type of simulation. Others have tried this in the past, but the workflows were either too rigid or not able to capture complex simulations. This experience was used to make sure the same thing does not happen in ANSYS AIM.
2) No more “good enough” simulation done by Design Engineers
Ease of use and training issue has kept robust simulation tools out of the hands of design engineers. Programs for that group of users have usually been so watered down or lack so much functionality, that they simply deliver a quick answer. The math is the same, but it is not as detailed or accurate. ANSYS AIM solves this by give the design engineer a tool they can pick up and use, but that also gives them access to the most capable solvers on the market.
3) Multiphysics by one user
Multiphysics simulation often involves the use of multiple simulation tools. Say a CFD Solver and a Thermal Solver. The problem is that very few users have the time to learn two or more tools, and to learn how to hook them together. So some Multiphysics is done with several experts working together, some in tools that do multiple physics, but none well, or by a rare expert that has multi-tool expertise. Because ANSYS AIM is a Multiphysics tool from the ground up, built on high-power physics solvers, the limitations go away and almost any engineer can now do Multiphysics simulation.
4) True collaboration
The issues discussed above about Multiphysics requiring multiple users in most tools, also inhibit true collaboration. Using one user’s model in one tool is difficult when another user has another tool. Collaboration is difficult when so much is different in processes as well. The workflow-driven approach in ANSYS AIM lends itself to collaboration, and the consistent look-and-feel makes it happen.
5) Enables use when you need it
This is a huge one. Many engineers do not use simulation tools because they are occasional users. They feel that the time required to re-familiarize themselves with their tools is longer than it takes to do the simulation. The combination of features unique to ANSYS AIM deal with this in an effective manner, making accurate simulation something a user can pick up when they need it, use it to drive their design, and move on to the next task.
6) Stepping away from CAD embedded Simulation
The growth of CAD embedded simulation tools, programs that are built into a CAD product, has been driven by the need to tightly integrate with geometry and provide ease of use for the users who only occasionally need to do simulation. Although the geometry integration was solved years ago, the ease-of-use and process control needed is only now becoming available in a dedicated simulation tool with ANSYS AIM.
7) A Return to home-grown automation for simulation
If you have been doing simulation since the 80’s like I have, you probably remember a day when every company had scripts and tools they used to automate their simulation process. They were extremely powerful and delivered huge productivity gains. But as tools got more powerful and user interfaces became more mature, the ability to create your own automation tools faded. You needed to be a programmer. ANSYS AIM brings this back with recording and scripting for every feature in the tool, with a common and easy to use language, Python.
How does this Impact Me and or my Company?
It is kind of fun to play prognosticator and try and figure out how a revolutionary advance in our industry is going to impact that industry. But in the end it really does not matter unless the changes improve the product development process. We feel pretty strongly that it does. Because of the changes in how simulation is done, brought about by ANSYS AIM, we feel that more companies will use simulation to drive their product development, more users within a company will have access to those tools, and the impact of simulation will be greater.
To fully grasp the impact you need to step back and ponder why you do simulation. The fast cars and crazy parties are just gravy. The core reason is to quickly and effectively test your designs. By using virtual testing, you can explore how your product behaves early in the design process and answer those questions that always come up. The sooner, faster, and more accurately you answer those questions, the lower the cost of your product development and the better your final product.
Along comes a product like ANSYS AIM. It is designed by the largest simulation software company in the world to give the users of today and tomorrow access to the power they need. It enables that “sooner, faster, and more accurately” by allowing us to change, for the better, the way we do virtual testing.