CD-adapco today announced that it has acquired Red Cedar Technology, maker of HEEDS Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) software and SHERPA, a search method to find optimum designs. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is big, in that it takes CD-adapco out of the CFD space — and gives HEEDS a far bigger reach into the market than it had just a week ago. Read on …

What’s MDO?

Just one of the hottest classes of simulation technology. MDO lets users take advantage of relatively cheap compute capacity to identify an entire solution space in which to seek the best-possible answer to their simulation question. Basically, given CAE model, a set of design parameters to investigate (thickness of a member between values A and B, deflection no greater than value C, etc.) and a solver, HEEDS iterates through designs alternatives, searching for values that meet all the target values.

That searching is done by SHERPA (or MO-SHERPA), Red Cedar’s proprietary algorithms, or by another algorithm selected by the user. Red Cedar tells me that SHERPA has significant advantages over other methods, including requiring fewer evaluations than other methods so that it often finds a solution very quickly, which saves time and CPU cycles. But HEEDS can work with the user’s algorithm of choice.

The result of all of this is a visual representation of the design space:

HEEDS Design Space

Image courtesy of Red Cedar Technology

where the blue and green areas are potential solutions to the problem and should be further investigated to see which combination makes the most sense. I’m sure that big sinkhole at the upper right needs investigation …

HEEDS can also be used for Design of Experiments (DOE) studies. In this case, the CAE model is evaluated to see which variables have the greatest impact on the design. Once you know that, you can concentrate on those that matter most:

Image courtesy of CD-adapco

Here, the first, third and sixth variables aren’t so important and the designer should focus on variables two and four, which have the most influence on the performance of the heat sink.

Why does this matter to CD-adapco?

Because it’s top of mind for users. CFD is complicated stuff, and that’s what CD-adapco’s users typically do with its STAR-CCM+ and STAR-CD products. It’s computationally intensive, often difficult to set up and can, therefore, be expensive to use as much and as often as it should be. As a result, users increasingly look to process automation, optimization and DOE –all techniques to make CAE more effective and efficient without sacrificing analytical rigor– to let them simulate in a more targeted way.

CD-adapco founder Steve MacDonald and EVP Bill Clark told STAR Global Conference attendees earlier this year that the company was committed to multi-disciplinary CAE that captures the real world; adding HEEDS to the portfolio takes them further in that direction.

Lest you think this is out of the blue, it isn’t. Red Cedar has been a CD-adapco partner for several years. In fact, one of the announcements out of STAR Global last year was Optimate, an add-on module for STAR-CCM+ for design exploration and optimization with CAE/CFD simulations that uses HEEDS. It doesn’t sound as though Optimate will be affected by this transaction.

What happens to Red Cedar?

Red Cedar will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of CD-adapco. Industry veteran Bob Ryan will continue as President and CD-adapco’s EVP Bill Clark will assume the role of CEO.

CD-adapco says that Red Cedar will continue to develop HEEDS as a “general–purpose process automation and design optimization tool that can be coupled with any CAD or CAE software”. Note the language there; there was no explicit promise of continuing to support all existing partners, but no reason to presume that anything will change. HEEDS MDO today includes interfaces for a wide range of CAD/CAE systems including ANSYS Workbench, (DS) Abaqus and SolidWorks, LS-DYNA, (MSC) Adams and Nastran, (The Mathworks) MATLAB, Siemens NX as well as Microsoft Excel — and it sounds as though this will not change.

Bottom line?

This is a good thing. Red Cedar gets broader distribution and, presumably, access to CD-adapco’s foundational technologies. CD-adapco gets a boost for its multi-physics vision and a great reason to call on accounts that may use Fluent or another competitor for CFD and HEEDS for MDO. Can’t wait to see what happens next.