By Bruce Jenkins • President • Ora Research
One of Siemens PLM’s hallmarks is its track record of outstanding management of its acquisitions over many years. It consistently presents a compelling strategic rationale for the move, makes sensible, comprehensible commitments as to how it will operate and integrate the acquired business and its technologies—then follows through, robustly and on schedule.
When Siemens announced its agreement to acquire LMS International in 2012, it said the acquisition would make it “the first product lifecycle management (PLM) software company to provide a closed-loop systems-driven product development solution.” Now, with its just-announced Simcenter portfolio, the company has taken possibly its single greatest step both to continue delivering on this vision and to further extend it.
In addition to incorporating its most recent acquisitions—CFD leader CD-adapco, and the HEEDS design exploration technology from CD-adapco’s Red Cedar Technology subsidiary—Simcenter also introduces Simcenter 3D, a “next-generation 3D CAE solution built on the Siemens NX software platform and combining the capabilities of several solutions to cover a range of simulation disciplines and industry applications.”
Beyond that, the company characterizes Simcenter as a “comprehensive portfolio of simulation software and test solutions to enable digital twins to drive innovation through all stages of product development” that “supports Siemens’ digitalization strategy and systems-driven product development.” The overarching message is that Simcenter “combines simulation and physical testing with intelligent reporting and data analytics to help produce digital twins that more accurately predict product performance throughout all stages of the product development process.”
The digital twin
What’s a digital twin? “A digital twin of your product,” says Siemens, is “a multi-fidelity model that reflects reality and continually evolves throughout the product lifecycle to accurately simulate performance from concept through actual use.” In this way, “Simcenter helps you go beyond simple verification to performance prediction by combining simulation, physical testing and data analytics to spot unforeseen trends.”
More specifically, Simcenter is designed “to address these challenges and realize Siemens’ predictive engineering analytics vision by combining multiple technologies in simulation and test.” These include computational solid mechanics (CSM) and finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), multibody dynamics, controls, physical testing, visualization, multidisciplinary design exploration, and data analytics. These technologies are then managed in a PLM context, using Siemens’ Teamcenter software, to support the engineering and development of complex systems.
Predictive engineering analytics
Simcenter advances a concept that Siemens calls “predictive engineering analytics,” or PEA, in support of closed-loop, systems-driven product development.
“Closed-loop, systems-driven product development involves deconstructing the design into separable elements, yet considering their intended interactions and controlling the global system behavior from the start,” the company explains. “Individual elements can be further developed as details become available.” The intent of this approach is to minimize risk and avoid late-stage changes by enabling clear target or boundary setting for subsystems, and full understanding of the global system’s dynamic behavior throughout the development process.
This process is traditionally supported by continuous verification and validation at the component and full-system level, limiting physical prototyping cycles. “PEA pushes this approach to the next level,” according to the company. “It includes all the tactics and tools that will help you predict product behavior in actual use. Deploying a PEA vision will help you develop a replica that remains synchronized with the actual product.”
The goal of PEA, says Siemens, is to “bring revolutionary improvements that will make simulation a predictive driver of development. PEA achieves these objectives by introducing new technologies and providing a strong alignment between 1D simulation, 3D computer-aided engineering (CAE), controls development, design exploration, data analytics and physical testing. The latter is essential to reach the appropriate modeling realism and enables effective component and final prototype testing.”
“Simcenter,” the company sums up, “enables PEA by bringing all disciplines together under one umbrella.” With the introduction of Simcenter, Siemens says it is “taking the next step forward in its digitalization strategy and predictive engineering analytics vision, which foresees the transformation of design simulation and verification into an analytical tool critical to systems-driven product development.”