Using Simulation-Driven Design to Power Digital Engineering
Digital engineering and the product lifecycle
Customer demands and marketplace competition are placing engineers under mounting time pressures. An organization’s development schedules must shorten to keep pace with the industry and the wider market. Many established digital tools are now available to accelerate development lifecycles. Simulation is one of them. Engineers use digital simulation-driven design to expedite innovation and move product development forward.
Due to the growing complexity of today’s electrical and electronic systems, using simulation-driven design is vital to shorten the development lifecycle. Verification especially is increasingly difficult for several reasons. First, engineers must work with high pin counts and high power draws. Second, today’s smart, interconnected products transfer and collect vast volumes of data. Third, manufacturers must verify more things but they have finite analyst resources. It’s a gap that must be closed. From a testing perspective, issues aren’t usually uncovered until the prototyping stages. Finding problems that late introduces a high level of risk and excessive delays. Fortunately, digital engineering offers several approaches that allow businesses to overcome these challenges.
The simulation-driven design approach
To shorten development, organizations must move away from physical verification and leverage the power of digital engineering. Engineers use digital simulation and analysis tools during design stages of product development to identify potential flaws and take appropriate action. Engineers also use simulation techniques to predict the performance of products during the detailed design and concept design phases. This process –simulation-driven design–allows engineers to test design alternatives throughout the development cycle.
When engineers uncover flaws early on thanks to simulation-driven design, they are able to address them with fewer constraints and lower costs, as compared to late-stage physical tests. The design is better when it reaches the physical prototyping and testing stages because engineers have much-needed earlier feedback on the functional requirements of a design. And simulation-driven design allows engineers to explore a broader range of design alternatives before the physical prototyping of a new product. More time and space to test ideas in the digital domain result in better product designs and more expeditious innovation.
Simulating electronic systems
Electronic systems are becoming increasingly complex as manufacturers try to fit more components on circuit boards. Depending on the application, board designs may include multi-board systems design using interconnected boards or rigid-flex configurations, which use a combination of flexible and rigid board technologies. What’s more, engineers often place boards in the midst of increasingly complex electrical systems. Additionally, engineers must coax more computing power from these electronic systems.
When engineers embrace digital engineering through simulation, they complete a range of analyses and checks in the virtual world. These tests include power integrity analyses–is the power distribution adequate for the different operating ranges of the board? And signal integrity checks–are design constraints being met to optimize signal fidelity?
Simulation-driven design lessens respins, saving time and money, and reducing delays in the development process. What’s more, engineers make changes with ease during these early stages; later, during physical verification and testing, their options are highly constrained.
Simulating electrical systems
Electrical systems feature an astonishing number of endpoints to connect today’s smart products. With the explosion of on-board sensors and processors, the amount of data passing between products is skyrocketing, causing engineers to run into bandwidth limitations. They must carefully track network bandwidth utilization during design to ensure limits are not being exceeded.
Engineers must also balance the data and electrical requirements of today’s products with any additional weight. Digital engineering and simulation give engineers a number of analyses and checks with which to determine the optimal trade-off. For example, if an engineer adds cable to transmit data or increase power to an electrical system, the product may exceed weight restrictions. Engineers can also check power budgets at the vehicle or product level to make sure enough power is available. Simulation tools are also available to analyze EMI and lightning strike resistance prior to prototyping.
Building today’s complex electrical systems in the real world and then rebuilding them to correct errors requires much time and effort. But in the virtual world, engineers mock up an entire electrical system, with its interconnected systems, to test its power and bandwidth. Then they tweak the model and run the simulation again to correct errors in the digital domain. The organization enjoys time and money savings due to fewer design errors.
- Development schedules are shortening thanks to customer and industry demands. At the same time, electrical and electronic systems are becoming more complex. Engineers must rely on simulation-driven design to reduce risks and costs and save time.
- Simulation-driven design enables virtual product testing during the early design phases. It empowers engineers with fast, simple tools to uncover and resolve issues early when there are fewer constraints and financial implications than there will be during later physical tests.
- Electronics systems are increasingly complex. They require more and more computing power and are often placed in large, complex electrical systems. Simulation-driven design allows engineers to test power and signal integrity early in the design process before their encounter constraints.
- Today’s electrical systems are interconnected, which results in bandwidth limitations and increases the weight of the system. Simulation helps engineers find the right trade-off between bandwidth and weight because they can mock up an entire system and seamlessly make digital changes to optimize the design. Time savings are significant.
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Many companies have recently embarked on the “digital transformation” journey to become more efficient and competitive. A recent IDC study showed that 90% of small and medium-size businesses are budgeting for the digital transformation and 73% have begun the process. .