This post has been contributed by Panduranga Rao Chirala, Vice President of Altair ProductDesign, India
It has been a constant human endeavour – across the globe – to make things better and last longer. In the developing economy, the culture is one of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.” The availability of pure research or development funds may be scarce but not the quest to cut cost and / or to get more out of something for little investment.
At Altair, we talk a lot about the need for optimization and its impact on reducing the weight of products but for me optimization can do much more than just provide weight advantages.
While the maximum benefits of optimization can be derived when deployed early by integrating it as part of a new product development process and identified as a gateway for sign off, Altair engineers are equally successful utilizing optimization technology for existing designs and products. This has led to achieving not just weight targets but also improved safety, durability and many other performance attributes associated with the reduction of weight and cost, late on in development.
Looking at the transport industry in parts of Asia where engineering technologies from external countries are commonly used to inform the design of new products, there is a tendency to focus on extending the product’s life cycle. But over time, the rising oil price became a spoil sport and the home grown methods were no longer providing sufficient performance gains.
Enter Altair technology that addresses product design at all stages of the lifecycle. Altair’s award winning optimization technology has been put to use to improve the performance to weight ratio to a point where it can give noticeable benefit to the customer as cost savings. Current product development teams deploy optimization techniques to achieve the performance, safety and NVH targets. Vehicle level targets are cascaded to system, subsystem levels and to component level. To site an example, for good ride & handling, lower un-sprung mass is desirable.
Optimization of un-sprung mass at component level can therefore lead to weight reduction as well as improved handling. Therefore, the benefits of optimization can go way beyond weight reduction alone.
Take a look at this case study from Vietnam based research company, NEPTECH, regarding the development of a lightweight bus frame. In this particular case, optimization gave several benefits – performance and safety as well as a 17% weight reduction. Further extension could be by sensitivity analysis and fine tune desired attributes.