Simcenter Prague: towards digital twin maturity

Jan 14, 2019 | Hot Topics

Last month I spent time with the Siemens Simcenter team and a couple hundred of their top customers, talking all things CAE. We covered CFD, how AR/VR fits into simulation workflows, where optimization can and should be applied, how to leverage the intersection of simulation and test, and more. It was a couple of very intense days in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in; this is the first of 3 blog posts about the event’s main themes.

But first, Prague. It was cold and mostly gray (it was December, after all), but. Wow. Awesome food, Christmas markets, friendly and happy people, lots of English speakers. I met a group that had more time in the area and had explored outside the city, too; next time, I’ll spend longer in and around Prague. The cover image is of Prague in the Fall, from Wikimedia Commons just go! Now back to the Simcenter Symposium.

The event was a chance for engineers and analysts to show off their work, gain insights from others struggling with similar problems and network to perhaps find that next, perfect job. This isn’t universally true, but many of the attendees I spoke with at the event were the only ones in their companies or departments doing what they do, so the Symposium gave them a chance to be with likeminded people. It also gave them the opportunity to look up and around, and see what other technologies might be brought to bear on the problems they’re trying to analyze but it‘s still going to be an uphill battle to turn a CFD specialist into an NX Nastran user. Nonetheless, there was much discussion of best practices and taking of notes on ways to use STAR-CCM+ or whatever the incumbent toolset is, more effectively.

This was, in many ways, a STAR-CCM+ event. Simcenter’s other applications were represented, but many sessions were CFD focused, likely because the broader Simcenter community is new and this event replaced the annual CD-adapco lovefests that I used to attend.

What fascinated me, and what I’ll write in more detail about in coming posts is this:

  • Simcenter offers a huge portfolio of types of physics, test, 1D/2D/3D. How these all work together in an enterprise is a management issue. And with simulation, in the form of generative design and similar technologies, moving further into the front end of the design process, how enterprises choose to employ these tools will become even more important.
  • Test is (still) everywhere. We seem to be unable to express enough confidence in our simulations to proceed without validation testing, so let’s maximize our return on that time and effort. How can we integrate test and CAE — and maybe even tie test into IoT efforts, once the product is in the market? When Siemens acquired LMS, they also got TestLab, a solution that combines high-speed data acquisition with testing, analytics, and modeling tools. It’s been years since I had an update on Testlab, and there’s lots of new stuff to discuss.
  • Simulation to help create “feel” and experience. I’m a naval architect by training, which means that (in the dark ages) I learned all about propeller design. It’s complicated: you need to create thrust to move the ship forward but also efficiency to do it with minimal fuel use. Several presenters talked about their best practices but one added a twist: using virtual reality to create immersive experiences for new designers so that they could really understand why one design was better than another. Putting humans in wetsuits near a rotating propeller is dangerous and expensive; this speaker created a way to show the impact of design decisions using VR goggles. Very cool — and a great training tool.

Siemens (as did CD-adapco) stays in the background at these events, preferring to let customers do the talking about their projects and findings. But the company did provide updates that covered recent and coming releases across the portfolio — far too many to cover in even a bunch of blog posts. My general take-away: Siemens is integrating the individual products into the Simcenter platform, to create a single place for multi-domain, multiphysics simulation but without sacrificing the goal of best-in-class for each technology. This involves technology, licensing, support and a whole lot of other issues but will ultimately create a platform that enables collaboration, more consistent workflows and deployment flexibility. It’s a tall order but one that seems to be under control.

It’s all in aid of what Siemens calls “digital twin maturity” — the idea that there are many digital twins for any given object (thermal, structural and other types of performance, for example). A digital twin is mature when all of the analyses that need to be performed, have been — and only then would insights be fully informed and valid.

Lots to process from the Prague Simcenter Symposium. More soon.

Note: Siemens graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation in the event but did not in any way influence the content of this post.