Sometimes looking back can deliver much better insight than going through the latest data. If you ever wonder whether the investment in CFD analysis for your product design process would be efficient, take a look at this research by a market intelligence company, the Aberdeen Group.
The Aberdeen Group's research showed that not only does CFD analysis help companies meet their business targets, but in most cases was more cost efficient even in the times when the CFD software on average was 100x more expensive.
At the time, just like today, the top strategy reported by 46% manufacturers was to ‘improve business execution,’ and the key challenges hindering that goal were: how to reduce the development schedules and how to deal with understaffed projects.
At the same time, the growing product complexity that leads to the performance being impacted by multiple physical forces were the top concerns for design engineers. The Aberdeen Group states that, "increasing part complexity as well as the multiple physical properties impacting products creates a need for design engineers to have better methods for understanding product behaviour."
The solution was to try to understand the product's behaviour during the development cycle. In this case, the growth of CFD solutions turned out to be very impactful.
The Aberdeen Group's research showed that design engineers were finding significant value in the ability to conduct CFD analysis while performing design work. That's not surprising. With CFD analysis, design engineers made better decisions during the process so that they could meet both quality and revenue targets. They can identify and address any mistakes at an early stage too.
Here we come to the part about the direct ROI. According to the research, companies where design engineers use CFD tools were 21% more likely to meet launch dates than those who did not provide design engineers with these tools because "they are able to better address the top market pressure to bring products to market sooner, and are therefore at a competitive advantage."
The top business pressures that led to the dynamic development of CFD software in the recent years were:
Shortened product development schedules.
Competitive pressures to differentiate products with better quality/reliability.
Customer demand for lower cost products.
Need for greater innovation to create new market opportunities.
Need to reduce lifecycle costs (warranty, recalls, etc.).
These business pressures crossed with real engineering pressures:
Increased product complexity.
Product performance impacted by multiple physical forces.
Products operate in extreme conditions.
Verifying if behaviour meets requirements.
Understanding the impacts of trade-off decisions on behaviour.
The challenges above may not surprise you, but the most intriguing part of the research is yet to come. The key ROI indicators influenced by CFD simulations were:
Quality targets at design release.
Product revenue targets.
Product launch dates.
Product cost targets.
Although in the time the Aberdeen Group's paper was written, CFD software was never near the usability standard and cost-efficiency of today. The design engineers that used CFD met the product launch dates 77% of the time, while the design engineers not using CFD only 64%.
Paradoxically, the expensive CFD solutions helped meet product cost targets too. The engineers using CFD were able to meet the targets 74% of the time, while the ones that didn't use it just 67% of the time.
You have to realise this data comes from the days where there were no automatic CFD analysis solutions widely available. On the one hand, the analysis was slowing down the design process, but the benefits were much more significant as the problems could be detected much earlier when fixing them was relatively easy.
To understand the benefits of CFD analysis better, take a look at how design engineers estimate the impact of removing CFD simulations from their manufacturing process:
The old CFD analysis software was already providing key ROI benefits. As many as 98% of the engineers participating in the survey found value in using CFD.
Now, what do you think?: What would be the answer today when companies like ours succeeded in improving CFD software usability and cut down the cost at this scale?
Here's our draft comparison of a traditional on-premise CFD analysis software and a cloud SaaS solution we provide. Take a look at the difference in price and time spent on the simulations, and keep in mind that the quality of the result is comparable. How would this affect the ROI researched by the Aberdeen Group?
For years, CFD analysis helped design engineers meet both quality and cost targets, and focus on innovating and improving their product simultaneously. At the same time, the complexity of the design process is growing. This means more interactions within the system where multiple physical properties impact the product.
The Aberdeen Group's research showed that companies that provide design engineers with CFD tools to use during design stages are 21% more likely to meet launch dates. The new generation of CFD software reduces the time and the cost of each simulation, making it possible for every designer, not only CFD specialist, to run a simulation while introducing revolutionary new CFD analysis usage practises.
The number of iterations and experiments a contemporary designer can perform should improve the quality and the reliability of the final product even more. At the same time, though we are going to do more lab experiments, the reduction of possible mistakes should shorten the product development schedules even more.
That is a very positive consequence, which we at Ingrid Cloud are proud to contribute to.