CAE plays a key part in manufacturing process

  • Interviews
  • Feb 09,22
With well over 30 years of experience working with and at leading tier 1 automotive companies as well as OEMs, Radha Krishnan truly understands what it takes to create revolutionary solutions for the manufacturing industry.
CAE plays a key part in manufacturing process

With well over 30 years of experience working with and at leading tier 1 automotive companies as well as OEMs, Radha Krishnan truly understands what it takes to create revolutionary solutions for the manufacturing industry. His passion for technology led him to pioneer MeshWorks, a proprietary CAE (computer-aided engineering) platform created by Detroit Engineered Products (DEP) which helps companies to reduce their product development time. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Radha Krishnan, Founder and President, Detroit Engineered Products (DEP), highlights on some of the emerging trends that could play a key role in shaping the future of manufacturing, and how DEP is helping companies to be future-ready.

You have been associated with the industry for the last more than 30 years. How do you see the evolution of the Indian manufacturing sector in the last 30 years? What has changed and what has not?
One big evolution in the manufacturing sector in last few decades is the use of simulation in manufacturing. Using simulation has made a huge difference in helping companies get the products right at the first, without having to go to through multiple iterations or prototypes. This has proved a huge leap for companies both to save time and help them get to market faster, while producing more robust and higher quality products. Another huge evolution that we have seen is the increasing automation in manufacturing. While automation has been making steps over the years, the last few years have seen a huge leap with the integration of industry 4.0, and smart manufacturing and AI integration.

An area that in general definitely needs more change is the collaboration between universities and industries. It is good that many companies now have partnerships with universities, it still covers a very small percentage of the overall colleges that India has. It needs more work to create industry-ready talent from colleges, and I look forward to that change in the future.

How do you see the growth of Detroit Engineered Products (DEP) since its inception in 1998? Any milestones during this journey?
For the last 23 years it has just been so exciting to see how the company has grown from a company in Michigan founded for CAE services and software to our expansion into five countries and seven offices, and several partners globally offering multiple product and service verticals. It has been a very interesting journey with many milestones along the way. One for sure is every new version of our flagship CAE platform, DEP MeshWorks that we release. Another would be when we launched our product development wing to help clients create custom products, and developed some exciting products from drones, people movers, e-scooters to agricultural equipment and laser cutters. Another exciting milestone was the launch of the IC sensor, which is an in cylinder sensing technology that helps improve the efficiency and reduce emissions of internal combustion engines. It has been an exciting journey, and as we offer more services across verticals it only gets more interesting and exciting.

What are the advantages of a computer-aided engineering (CAE) platform - like MeshWorks - for the manufacturer (the user)?
DEP helps companies in the design stage by reducing the design cycle by harnessing the power of CAE. Virtual product testing is undoubtedly cost-effective as the customer is not involved in spending for any expensive physical assets. Unlike expensive physical tests, clients can run multiple CAE iterations electronically because of our unique parametric technology. As a result, clients may digitally test a variety of options before committing for production, ensuring cost efficiency and optimization.

Tools like MeshWorks eliminates the need for physical testing and offers optimum solutions and it avoids the client being obliged to return to the design cycle if the intended outcome is not achieved. With the flexibility that performance calculations provide, analysing prior to production stage, or even during the prototype stage, can result in reducing the product goto-market cost.

One of its most popular features are the highly automated meshing and model assembly tools that reduce CAE model building time by 40 to 50%. A useful function is that existing FE & CFD models can be converted to intelligent parametric CAE models, enabling fast design iterations & Design Of Experiment (DOE) studies. Another popular function is whereby customers can automate their CAE processes rapidly, resulting in 2x to 10x time reduction.

What kind of changes are you witnessing in the automotive manufacturing space? How can CAE tools help Auto OEMs and component makers to align themselves with these changes?
One of the key change in the product development cycle that has evolved is the use of virtual validation as part of the product development cycle. Initially virtual validation was seen only as a design verification activity, but over the years it has advanced and shifted to the forefront of product design. Increasingly, it plays a crucial, upfront role in ensuring safety and precision during the early stages of the product development cycle. This digital verification and validation of the products and product properties during the initial design stage itself ensure that multiple design iterations can be done to arrive at the best possible product, overall development costs are reduced, companies can get to market faster, and a better product reaches the market.

We provide simulation solutions across the board be it FEA Study, Fatigue & Durability, Manufacturing Simulation Support, Computational Fluid Dynamics, NVH Analysis, Crash & Safety Analysis, etc. We have expertise ranging from interiors and seating, engine system, chassis, suspension and steering, and full vehicle to electronics and electrical across all component. Our solutions may be used to develop a FE model for a design, such as tuning the product to get the intended outcome, adjusting the FE model to meet the packing, adjusting the FE models to meet the weight goal, and tuning the FE model to meet the cost goal. Our parameterization and optimization techniques are found to be particularly useful to clients in the automotive industry.

In addition to the automotive sector, which are the other industries contributing significantly to the growth of the CAE tools market?
DEP works with companies on creating innovative solutions to real world problems. We have a long history in the automotive industry, being Headquartered in Michigan, we have worked extensively with leading automakers in the US, Europe and India. DEP works with companies across industries like Automotive, Aerospace, Defense, Biomedical, Energy, Electronics, Oil & Gas, Consumer Products, Heavy Equipment etc.

Are Indian SMEs also banking on CAE tools to gain a competitive edge? Can you share a few examples of DEP MeshWorks in this respect?
Yes, absolutely. SMEs are a key part of the economy, and it is on every business to ensure that the SME community grows and becomes successful. In lieu with the above, we have special affordable price plans for SMEs, to help them grow their business.

What are the emerging trends that could play a key role in shaping the future of manufacturing? And how can companies like DEP tap some of these trends?
In today’s highly competitive market, each company is trying to get their products to market, better than the previous version, and faster than their competitor. The mandate of fast to market would continue to be relevant not just for manufacturing, but also for design and engineering. This calls for transformation to product development process, from the traditional method, towards a more virtual process.

The virtual product development process involves simulation driven engineering, and a model based systems engineering approach. In the age of smart manufacturing, where mass customization also plays a significant role, time is of the essence. The scope for physical prototypes based product validation from design and engineering stand point would result in a highly condensed timeframe, which would enable products to get to market faster. Design, virtually validate the product performance, and then manufacture would be the ideal work flow considering the data and simulation driven approach in the age of “smart manufacturing”. This kind of virtual validation and CAE environment is where DEP MeshWorks can provide value to the customers.

Do you see demand for CAE tools going up in the Indian manufacturing sector?
Yes, CAE increasingly is playing a key part in the manufacturing process, and with the increase of companies looking at smart manufacturing and virtual validation, the demand for CAE tools and more importantly CAE tools that are equipped with the tools and modules to handle these requirements will be steadily increasing.

What are your short- and long-term growth plans for your company?
We have been steadily growing, and have very recently made a couple of key announcements. We have recently launched ConceptWorks, a path breaking new module in DEP MeshWorks which allows users to redefine the concept modeling phase by allowing CAE engineers to efficiently produce concept members for design and optimization studies. We have opened our fifth office in Canada. We have some exciting new modules coming up in the 2022 release of MeshWorks which the team is really excited about. We are looking at new focus in the upcoming year in far east geographies as well.

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