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CD-adapco Announces Combined CFD/FEA Simulation Platform at Annual Conference

By Tom Lansford, April 22, 2014

The annual CD-adapco Star Global Conference was held in historic Vienna. This year's event was the largest ever with over 500 professionals attending over the three days. The city provided a beautiful backdrop to the conference and the location and the Hilton Vienna in the city center served as an extremely convenient venue.

Vienna, scene of CD-adapco Star Global Conference 2014

The three days in Austria were filled with roadmaps, technical presentations, and training. Executives delivered updates on the company and shared their vision for the future of simulation and multi-disciplinary design exploration.

The company CEO, Steve MacDonald, is an engineer, and it shows. The Star Global Conference is an engineering-oriented conference, free of marketing flash and splash. He opened with a thanks to the attendees and then explained that he personally dedicating his time to being in the local offices around the globe making certain that CD-adapco has its own people on the ground servicing customers everywhere in the world (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Mr. MacDonald's personal priority is organizing CD-adapco local teams around the globe, especially in Japan and China

Mr. MacDonald highlighted the business focus of the company, which is to plow profits back into development. Approximately 40% of the company revenues go into R&D. And finally, he rounded out his brief keynote with the big product news: the company’s goal is to deliver finite element analysis and finite flow analysis in the same product codebase within one year. Mr. MacDonald admitted that the goal presents many challenges and will be difficult to execute; however, it provides many benefits to customers and so is worth achieving.

Vice-president for sales and support in Europe, Didier Halbronn, discussed major details for product, service, and support developments at CD-adapco. Multi-disciplinary design exploration (MDX) was his first highlight: the STAR-CCM+ platform is being extended to be multi-disciplinary.

The ability to drive design exploration is critical. Several key-initiatives, which CD-adapco is addressing to enable MDX, include:

For example, MDX requires ten and hundreds of multi-design scenarios. Therefore the objective of MDX is impossible if the system cannot deliver throughput. Throughput is delivered in different ways, such as information, robustness, speed, efficient meshing, fast solvers, and smart workflow.

The HEEDS product from Red Cedar Technology is the platform from which to drive the MDX process and it can manage the workflow between all the tools involved. HEEDS provides a smart automation solution for design exploration.

Multi-disciplinary Design Exploration requires more than just technologies and platforms to be successful with customers. Not to be overlooked are licensing models which are friendly to MDX. CD-adapco claims to provide the most innovative licensing options, which include their Power Session, Power on Demand, and Power Token choices for running STAR-CCM+.

Power Sessions allow simulation on unlimited cores for a flat rate. They can be run on-premise or in the cloud. Power Session delivers throughput by eliminating the limit on the number of cores.

Power on Demand allows customers to purchase time on Power Sessions. For customers who don't need to purchase, let's say, ten Power Sessions, they can purchase Power on Demand credits. This can be very useful for handling peak-demand within a project. You can even run concurrent Power Sessions and you can run as long as you have Power on Demand credits available.

Power Tokens provide users a way to flexibly distribute simulations across cores as desired and can be used for the MDX tools like HEEDS as well as for simulations. Power Tokens offer an MDX-friendly approach to licensing.

STAR-CCM+ Version 9 Features for 2014

CD-adapco delivers three product releases each year for STAR-CCM+, and so significant time was given to describing features coming in 2014. Jean-Claude Ercolanelli, senior VP for CD-adapco product management, delivered an impressive list of enhancements in STAR-CCM+ v9, which has the main theme of simulating systems.

Simulating systems means simulating multiple time scale phenomena, multiple engineering disciplines, and multiple, validated physics which provides an accurate simulated system. It means supporting large, sophisticated assemblies, high-resolution meshes, and advanced analysis to provide users with greater realism. And in order to be effective and efficient, it means having fast setup times, automated processes, design exploration, and with high performance.

CAD interoperability will be enhanced with the importation of color STL files which allow users to work more easily in complex models. In addition, version 9 will import native Rhino 3D files, which increases the fidelity of the models when compared to neutral, exchange formats.

Also, the constraint management module will be upgraded to D-Cubed - the same constraint management tool used in the major CAD packages. This will make constraining the model more consistent with other CAD packages and reduce the occurrence of over-constrained models. Related improvements include Boolean operation workflow enhancements, internal flow volumes improvements to handle different surfaces for flow inlets and outlets.

Performance in version 9 will continued to be improved in many areas. Examples include interface intersection performance increases of three to nine times faster; and solution mapping performance increases while remapping which are ten to 200 times faster.

CAE interoperability enhancements include features such as importing CAE models as regions allowing them to be rotated, scaled, and translated as an object; shell and beam elements are imported into STAR-CCM+ as regions; and version 9 will support bi-directional mapping of beams and surfaces.

Flow solvers will have enhancements to increase reliability, robustness, and accuracy. The adjoint solver introduced in version 8 will have new enhancements including tumble and swirl cost functions which addresses the needs of customers working on powertrains.

Turbulence modeling in version 9 will include an entirely new four-equation turbulence model (Billard & Laurence, 2012). This is particularly applicable to applications where "near-wall modeling" is important, such as external aero, trailing vortices, internal flows, and heat transfer. Also, the parallel scalability will be improved by a factor of three.

These are a sampling of features coming to STAR-CCM+ in 2014. The three releases per year, which include enhancements small and large across the multiple segments of STAR-CCM+. These confirm CEO Steve MacDonald's claim that CD-adapco is using a very large portion of sales for development of STAR-CCM+.

CD-adapco seems to be exploiting the advantage of being a privately held company, which is not subject to the pressure of shareholder hunger for profits, and using that advantage to push the envelope of their platform technology, to deliver more value to customers, and to build a competitive advantage in the market for high-end simulation.

Mount Everest and Lessons in Building Great Teams

David Breashears, well-known for his IMAX film on Mount Everest, delivered the guest keynote at the STAR Global Conference (see figure 2). His discussion on teams and teamwork touched on how communication or a lack of communication along with teamwork leads to success or a lack there of.

Figure 2: David Breashears brings his experience of leading Mt Everest excursions to bear on issues important to design and engineering teams

Selecting team members is critical for David Breashears – honesty, integrity, selflessness, the ability to listen, and the ability to step up and lead when necessary. He discussed how "silos" in organizations are ineffective and inefficient. The silos of different departments focus on their own domains but don't communicate across domains to achieve better results. This is true on a mountain as well as in a corporation.

Mr. Breashears continued by describing how he with his team prepares each approach to Mt Everest. Different personality types drive different modes - exploration modes, execution modes - and how these personality types deliver different benefits, and sometimes drawbacks, to the entire team.

A particular issue, escalation of commitment, often comes from teams in execution mode. Sometimes, as happened to another team on Mount Everest in 1996, escalation of commitment can be dangerous and lead to failure. Addressing this issue often requires management and leaders to be receptive to negative news and failure. It requires confidence and maturity to say "Stop, it's not working!"

Another key part of planning an expedition is contingency planning. David Breashears makes certain that his team has many different contingency plans. This concept is equally valid in companies, and yet so many companies have a plan - and just one. An additional piece of advice from Mr Breashears is to care a great deal about the process.

When you care about the process, the outcome will always be better.

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About the Author

Tom Lansford is an analyst at CADplace. He previously managed European workstation marketing at NVIDIA & speaks 4 languages. His professional interests include graphics solutions. More…

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