Prototypes & Comps

Simulation Lifecycle Management

Posted: March 4, 2010 by
Paul Lalor

From vehicles and easy-to-open packaged foods to high-tech sports shoes and medical devices, the benefits of simulating product performance attributes, manufacturing processes, and fundamental material behavior surround us every day, By enabling manufacturers to rapidly evaluate design options, realistic simulation techniques reduce costly, time-consuming physical prototyping and testing.

Manufacturers of consumer packaged goods—typically lowcost, quick-turnover items—continually strive to improve their competitive position by cutting development and production costs and reducing time-to-market. Realistic simulation technologies, such as Abaqus FEA software from SIMULIA. let CPG manufacturers analytically represent the product or package in 3D and then simulate physically accurate load and constraint conditions. The simulation enables engineers to predict the performance of a concept design in advance of any investment in physical prototyping, or manufacturing tooling.

The real deal
In this way, inexpensive multiple design studies can determine the effect of varying geometric features, material thickness, material properties, and alternative load cases. Products, packaging, and even manufacturing lines can be optimized for design features such as weight, structural performance, and material selection.
Clearly, simulation can be a crucial component in the life cycle of any packaged consumer product. Virtual simulation technologies have proven to be an effective way for companies to drive innovation, explore design alternatives, and evaluate product performance more efficiently. With the help of advanced simulation tools, companies can evaluate alternatives, spot and fix mistakes in the early stages of development, and optimize designs so that products and packaging can sail through testing and production to get to market quickly.

How SLM protects IP
CPG product development typically involves simulations of hundreds of different products and packaging with varying parts and features, including regularly emerging new products. Frequent simulations of stress analysis, fluid behavior, and other factors produce an onslaught of data that often goes unmanaged or resides with specialists in separate working groups. When the intellectual property (IP) associated with simulation methods and decision-making processes is often lost, companies that spend millions on simulations may fail to capitalize on much of the business value.

SIMULIA’s simulation lifecycle management (SLM) solutions address this problem by focusing on improving simulation effectiveness within product lifecycle management (PLM) and scientific environments. SLM also includes the management of the IP associated with simulation tools, data, and processes. SLM solutions enable CPG companies to manage simulation IP for accelerated product development by giving them timely access to the right information through secure storage, search, and retrieval. SLM simplifies the capture, re-use, and deployment of approved simulation methods and best practices, creating greater confidence in simulation results. It also permits simulation results to be shared for collaborative decision-making among various groups, including designers, manufacturing teams, and business management.

Product performance analysis involves a broad spectrum of best-in-class and customer-proprietary simulation applications. SLM connects these tools in an open but controlled manner, enabling non-expert users to capture, automate, and deploy approved simulation workflows. Simulation also is used to predict the performance attributes of design candidates and their suitability for meeting engineering targets. SLM provides support mechanisms that provide cross-functional insight and guide requirements-driven design decisions.

The toothpaste and the tube
For example, a tube of toothpaste may have a number of marketing requirements including size, weight, and the ability to easily squeeze out paste. Engineering teams translate these marketing requirements into engineering targets, and simulations are then used to predict and capture these performance attributes. The results are used to make decisions that influence and validate the toothpaste tube’s design. This simulation-driven product information should be retained and tightly associated with other product data on the design of this particular tube.
The materials team also performs test simulations to make sure the tubes work as planned, do not crack when squeezed, and meet regulatory standards without interfering with the toothpaste as it comes out. The company should retain this simulation-driven process information and associate it with all other information impacting similar package designs, such as hair gel bottles or lotion containers.

Only what’s necessary
Both sets of data contribute to achieving the marketing requirements for this package. However, one set can be characterized as program data (relating directly to the specific package), and the other as non-program data (contributing to multiple package designs). The CPG company should also retain the knowledge associated with the successful performance of these simulations as valuable IP.

By reusing the data, the company saves time by leveraging existing IP without repeating similar simulations. Money also is saved by reducing the need for physical prototypes. Any data that is generated to complete the simulation work but has no intrinsic value is discarded. SLM can help CPG organizations improve the quality and traceability of simulation data, increase productivity by accessing the right data quickly, and improve confidence in simulation results by deploying best practices.

Sharing simulation data among teams accelerates decision-making, helping to bring products to market faster. By bringing order to simulation processes through SLM, CPG companies can achieve a new level of efficiency in shortening development cycles, reducing waste, and improving product quality while fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Paul is a manager within SIMULIA’s Strategic Product Planning group responsible for setting the strategic direction of SIMULIA’s product portfolio. Paul spent 12 years with ABAQUS Inc. ( formerly HKS), serving in a variety of capacities, then spent six years with PTC working in the PLM space before joining SIMULIA in 2006. He can be reached at