PLM industry analyst, Chad Jackson spoke of the evolution of CAE - from a tool for design validation and verification, to one that is used upfront, to define and shape designs. He also spoke about the importance of complexity management in the simulation process-chain and some of the technologies that are helping to address this mission.
Doug Wenk of Siemens PLM Software was up next and gave the audience a picture of the NX CAE vision, and the product roadmap that lies ahead. Included in his presentation were several demos of key differentiating technologies that reside in our portfolio.
Travis Hunter of Graham Packaging enlightened the audience with his organizations use of NX Thermal and NX Flow to increase the value of their existing investments, increase productivity, and reduce waste. He demonstrated in one example how CAE-based insight enabled them to make substantial, cost saving simplifications to a design while having an unexpectedly marginal effect on performance. I saw this as an unambiguous illustration of the real, tangible business value of CAE analysis.
Before breaking for lunch, we were divided into groups and given a personal shop tour of the Hendrick Motorsports complex which included part fabrication, as well engine and vehicle build areas. We were amazed to learn that each race team has an inventory of about 15 cars at any one time, each one tailored for optimal performance under race-specific conditions (terrain, climate etc.). The robust operation churns out an impressive 600 engines a year, with vehicle builds coming in at around 75 units. The degree of vertical integration is remarkable, with the vast majority of content being manufactured in-house. Even sourced content such as engine blocks and cylinder heads (Chevrolet) are ported, machined and otherwise customized per in-house guidelines and performance recipes.
The final stop on our tour was the ever-so-crucial pit crew training area. Elaborate with piped-in sound effects, multiple cars, and stacks of replacement tires, it is effectively a real-world simulator aimed at maximizing pit crew performance. We learned that a half second longer pit stop can easily mean slipping from first to fourth of fifth place - every millisecond counts!