CAE Driven Product Development: A Competitive Tool for SMEs
Computer Aided Engineering techniques have been in the engineering domain from past several decades, and has been tremendously improvised to eliminate the use of experimental validations. Research shows that all the best in class manufacturers utilize simulation in the design phase to develop better, faster and cheaper products. The reason for such an immense inclination of manufacturers towards adopting simulation tools in the design process is the ability to bring products in the market as much fast as possible.
However, the increasing competition in placing the products in the market faster poses challenging situation for small and medium scale manufacturers in delivering their products at the right time. This necessitates for SMEs to realize the importance of CAE tools and incorporate them in the product development process.
Considering an example of automobile parts manufacturers, the Tier-2, 3 and 4 suppliers face such competitive challenge at the most. With the ever growing demands from the customers, it is evident that the supply chain for spare parts must be balanced well. While top-class OEM suppliers try to capture most of the market by developing products faster, aftermarket manufacturers lag behind, loosing opportunities up-front. To ensure a competitive edge in such a scenario requires manufacturers to re-think about their product development strategies and tactics. The key performance indicators (KPIs) of best-in class manufacturers reveal some of the best practices including the importance of simulation tools to develop products at the right time with the right quality.
It has been observed through the research that incorporating simulation in the early design process substantially reduces the prototyping costs and associated time. As such, it is important to realize the importance of CAE earlier rather than utilizing them post design release. For SMEs like aftermarket manufacturers, this remains an important factor, as their primary profit margin relies on developing cost-effective parts against more expensive OEM ones. However, what refrain SMEs from adopting hardware and software capabilities for simulation, is due to the lack of expert teams and the associated costs for training the staff. The solution in this case could be outsourcing the simulation activities to off-shore engineering firms that provide cost-effective CAE services, requiring no extra investment for manufacturers in building separate infrastructure.
It is evident that get it done quickly is the message that manufacturers are hearing from the market. Product development strategies are required to be enhanced and simulation tools in early design phase needs to be incorporated. For SMEs competing against hiant manufactures, CAE tools will serve as a quick assessment tool before releasing the design for manufacturing. For manufacturers relying on a narrow profit bands, outsourcing remains a viable option. Other possibilities could include the utilization of simulation software as a service through cloud computing technology, in order to execute simulations without investing in infrastructure.
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