Imagine being able to fly one of the world’s fastest airplanes in a digital environment. In that virtual world, you can test the plane’s viability by adding or removing environmental and man-made variables. Or simulate jet engine performance to reduce fuel consumption and wear. Planes tested in these environments are more efficient, safe and sustainable. Existing crafts are maintained proactively, and the next generation is designed for future air mobility needs.

These digital environments that mirror reality, also known as digital twins, are based on fundamental principles of modeling, physics, mathematics and computer science. They are being brought to life by computer aided engineering (CAE) enhanced by high performance computing (HPC). This new configuration has the capacity and speed to handle data-intensive simulation applications across a wide variety of industries. The result is a quantum leap in performance and capabilities.

Today’s Engineering Challenges and the Promise of Digital Simulation

While the expectation of engineers to design more (better and faster) hasn’t diminished, the industry is facing some monumental challenges. Today’s engineering workforce is more distributed than ever, which can hinder collaboration and performance among teams. Engineers are also being tasked with producing more fuel-efficient products, reducing emissions, and optimizing maintenance, repair, and overhaul windows to save on costs.

As engineering teams grow beyond capacity, digital simulation powered by HPC is helping ease the burden. Engineers can collaborate with one another and do their work in a virtual environment, improving the speed and efficiency of engineering workloads. Simulation gives engineers the power to see how their designs will behave in millions of real-world scenarios, while reducing or even eliminating the need for costly physical testing. Ultimately helping engineers improve the safety, sustainability, and performance of products.

Engineers at United Kingdom’s McLaren Group are using simulation and prototyping to design faster, more aerodynamic vehicles. The engineering team conducts simulations powered by HPC based on as many as 100,000 data points per second coming from Formula 1 race cars as they’re moving at up to 200 miles per hour. The McLaren engineers build 3D digital twins and 3D printing models for continuous rapid prototyping and to generate analytics to improve car performance in subsequent races. The results of these efforts lead to rapid prototyping and testing of components. 

HPC for Power Plant Design

Simulation was the answer for California-based engineering company RJM International, a provider of emissions reduction and combustion improvement technologies, that serves large combustion plants like refineries and steelworks. The company runs operational analyses and simulations involving a series of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) on a HPC cluster with the goal of helping plants run more efficiently and limit emissions through adoption of co-firing, biomass fuels, or next generation energy pellets.

Engineers at RJM International use audits and detailed data sets to build accurate models of power plant performance. The team uses Ansys simulation software integrated with HPC infrastructure from Dell. This solution allows engineers to use CFD data to devise, test, and prove new solutions prior to their installation. It’s also modular, so the engineers can easily deploy a system optimized for the compute, storage, networking, and software requires of their specific HPC workloads.  

Simulations that took a week are now completed in a day ― using 86% less compute time than the company’s previous computing infrastructure. The cluster also enables RJM to run a variety of large, sophisticated computations to solve other complex engineering challenges.  Engineers can quickly and cost-effectively validate product integrity prior to prototyping by modelling behavior across real-world variables.

Simplify and Accelerate HPC

Retooling an IT environment for high performance engineering workloads can be streamlined by engineering validated architectural designs which include servers, storage, networking, software and services in customizable configurations. They’re designed to help simplify and speed the configuration of HPC clusters whose design has already been tested and tuned for CAE. 

As teams continue to work remotely and CAE software advances in sophistication, engineers are leading the way in the adoption of advanced computing technologies to overcome new challenges. HPC is not one-size-fits-all. The right solution configuration depends on a specific mix of applications and types of simulations, with a variety of options to consider. But once past those hurdles, HPC is playing a major role in advancing the use of simulation in engineering, speeding time-to-market and contributing to the design of innovative and higher-quality products.

For more information about how to leverage engineering simulation tools powered by HPC, click here.


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High-Performance Computing

To make a profit, manufacturers need more visibility into the cost of goods to sell at a price that reflects the value to customers. And that transparency has been lacking to date. From flour to fuel – and now baby formula – the cost of commodities has skyrocketed while availability has plummeted and no one knows when things will turn around.

Clearly, things have gotten out of control. So the leaders at Clariant International, a leading specialty chemical company, decided to build a tool that would monitor and analyze future price changes on finished goods instantly so they could make pricing decisions that pass-through costs to the value chain.

What does a specialty chemical company make?

Modern chemistry delvers solutions and revolutionary products, and Clariant supports global production in everything from home care to vehicles, energy, electronics, mining, agriculture, and cosmetics – even your kid’s brightly colored toys (with safe, stable paint) to the stain-trapping polymers that protect their favorite Star Wars t-shirts.

Plus, to feed a hungry world with higher crop yields, there are “adjuvants” – biological enhancers of herbicides and pesticides that increase effectiveness and sustainability by preventing wind drift in farmers’ fields.

Development is a cause for celebration but getting revolutionary products into the market quickly is another. Here’s how Clariant — an SAP Innovation Award Winner — built a cost forecasting tool that simulates costs end-to-end from procurement and operations, to finance and sales.

In the chemical production industry, nothing stands still

Clariant’s legacy solution for pricing simulation allowed only a single, manual simulation that took several weeks to process making it outdated by the time it reached the business decision makers.

The need for real-time pricing forecasts was driven by the costing complexity of bills of materials (BOMs) and finished products from multiple group companies – not to mention currencies based on tens of thousands of raw materials operating in volatile markets around the world.

Clariant required a robust product costing solution that could simulate finished goods costs for multiple scenarios using data from a wide array of sources. It also needed to offer intuitive reporting and analytics that procurement teams could apply instantly to resolve the many challenges they were facing.

But the biggest drawback for the forecasters was the cumbersome, labor demanding, and error-prone calculation required for 20,000 finished goods, 50,000 materials used, 18 production levels, 67 production sites, and 18 months of forecast simulation.

To move this mountain, Clariant built an end-to-end cost simulation forecasting tool with full visibility to enable proactive pricing and margin management across a variety of factors.

100X Faster –Value-Driven ROI in minutes instead of days

The company based its end-to-end forecasting tool on a production benchmarking and simulation engine from MIBCON NDC built on SAP S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud with robust data processing, system stability, and user-friendly dashboard reporting and analytics. The return on investment for the entire project was realized in just three weeks!

From one manual simulation per quarter to instant forecasting, Clariant’s pricing simulations are 100 times faster than before.

“We can run forecasts almost immediately and provide updated pricing quickly,” says Markus Mirgeler, head of procurement, Clariant. “This shows up in higher margins and better product volume, differentiating us from the competition.”

Instant transparency

The ability to analyze the full production portfolio instantly, based on detailed bills of materials (BOMs) ensures accuracy. Plus, identifying products that require given raw materials, and the systematic collection of future raw material prices, any time, affords flexibility as things change.

Now, sales can rely on a single source of truth for global pricing forecasts that support the bottom line while significantly reducing the possibility of error. With less time needed to obtain the actual and input data as well as for planning and preparation, and empowered by self-service reporting and advanced visualizations, sales can analyze the value chain with pricing simulations and produce reports in minutes instead of days. 

And last but not least, the transparency of cost changes is passed onto customers so they can see the value.

To learn more about the challenges Clariant faced, and the actions the company took that placed them as a winner of the SAP Innovation Awards, read their Innovation Awards pitch deck

Digital Transformation