Improving the Reliability of Consumer Electronics Products through Realistic Simulation

By Neno
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Early product failures and product recalls are very costly. They result in loss of revenue, litigation, and brand devaluation among others. Hardware recalls are often costlier than software recalls as software patches can be easily downloaded and installed once flaws come to light.

Recalls and early product failures tend to happen over and over again. Why?

The answer is because engineering teams are constantly under the gun to improve product performance, reduce form factors, and reduce time to market, all while cutting costs. In order to mitigate risk, engineers need to develop a deeper understanding of the product behavior under real operating conditions and quickly evaluate design trade-offs based on overall system behavior.

Physical tests provide an excellent means to understand product behavior. However, physical testing is expensive and time-consuming. Simulation provides a cheaper and faster alternative to physical tests. It is critical to strike the right balance between physical tests and simulation during product development. In order to get the maximum bang for your buck, simulations should be deployed starting early in the design cycle when physical prototypes are not available and the design is not fully developed. The earlier you find flaws, the earlier you can fix them.

Graph: Relative cost of fixing errors in embedded systems

Since the cost of fixing flaws grows exponentially through the design cycle, identifying and fixing design flaws early in the design cycle is super critical. Not all simulation tools are created equal. You don’t need any answer. You need the right answer. For that, you need simulation tools that most closely depict reality. And you need answers fast. Hence you need product testing and validation tools with industry leading physics and solver technology. Those will make you obtain accurate solutions faster in order to help you improve product design, ensure product reliability and reduce time to market. Accurate depiction of material behavior and physics of failure are essential to obtaining realistic results. Such capabilities are critical in predicting the behavior of materials such as glass, adhesives, and polymers that have a high propensity for damage.

Consumer electronic products, especially mobile and portable devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, are subjected to a variety of operating conditions. The devices need to be designed to protect them from damage. Engineers need to ensure that “portable” doesn’t mean “breakable.” The challenge is to design a light-weight product that can withstand not just the loading cycles associated with regular usage, but also abusive loading scenarios that are encountered less frequently (According to surveys and insurance claim statistics, drop and water damage constitute the two most frequent causes of damage for mobile devices).

Simulation should be employed at the ideation, product development, and failure analysis stages in order to improve product quality and reduce time to market. Refer to the case study is this e-book to learn how a leading manufacturer of consumer electronics used simulation to improve the keystroke feel and enhance frame rigidity while reducing weight.

While drop during daily usage is a concern for mobile devices, transportation drops are the main concern for office equipment. Engineers are faced with the challenge of identifying the structural members that are most susceptible to damage and then improve their damage resistance while reducing the overall weight of the structure. Here’s how a leading manufacturer of office equipment designed a low cost printer that can withstand a series of transportation drop tests.

The examples above provide a snapshot of applications leveraging realistic simulation technology to successfully improve product durability while satisfying other constraints such as weight and cost. Learn more about how you can leverage this technology to improve your electronic product design. Read our e-Book, “Improving Product Performance and Reliability through Multiphysics Simulation.”

 

The Need To Transform The Way We Develop Embedded Mechatronic Systems

By Neno
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The challenge of developing embedded mechatronic systems for smart products has never been greater.  During the initial 60% of the development process, no physical prototypes exist. This means that fewer than 10% of systems engineers have the opportunity to validate systems and their sub-systems in a complete product.  This makes it impossible to validate and optimize a system’s behavior or to fully understand its interaction with other systems in its target environment and across all possible product configurations.

In this era of smart products, where products are often differentiated in the marketplace by their innovative capabilities that are implemented within the product. Many of these capabilities are delivered through embedded systems, the source of up to 80% of today’s smart product innovations.  Such systems can account for more than 40% of a new products development costs and are defined by many thousands of market, product, system and regulatory requirements.

Embedded & mechatronic systems designers typically use hundreds of disconnected systems engineering tools to implement these systems. These legacy and proprietary tools create many different and separate models of the systems that are largely disconnected from each other, with the result that they:

  • Limit cross-discipline collaboration & integration, making it difficult to build a complete systems view that integrates multiple engineering disciplines;
  • Make it impossible to model & simulate the behavior of systems in the context of a complete product, its environment or its interaction with other systems;
  • Limit the ability to reuse system assets across multiple product ranges and options.

What is needed is a fully integrated systems development environment to address these challenges.  An environment that makes it possible to create a high fidelity digital replica of the product and its embedded mechatronic systems to accurately predict and simulate their behavior through a rich 3D experience, just like in real life.

The Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform for Systems Engineering provides such an integrated solution. It delivers an open, extensible & integrated systems engineering environment that shares a common and consistent set of systems models.  It enables all engineering disciplines to create and share virtual twins of real smart products and their systems that make it possible to:

  • Transform all aspects of developing embedded mechatronic systems, from defining and developing systems architectures through to their implementation and validation, all in the context of a virtual twin of the real product through a rich 3D experience.
  • Improve decision-making at the conceptual design stage and reduce the need for physical prototypes through powerful 3D life-like simulation and validation.
  • Collaborate and share information across all stakeholders through a shared common systems definition.
  • Simulate the behavior of complex multi-physic systems in the context of the complete product and its environment.
  • Validate the virtual twin of the product and its sub-systems earlier in the development cycle, saving costs and minimizing errors
  • Reuse systems assets across multiple product ranges and options.
  • Manage the complete product and systems development lifecycle by sharing an open, extendable and common systems data model and repository with all stakeholders.

To learn how this ‘3DEXPERIENCE platform for Systems Engineering’ can transform your embedded and mechatronic systems development process, watch this short webinar now.

Left brain, meet right brain

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

Three Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces on Table

When Louis Henry Sullivan said, “Form ever follows function,” he was talking about architecture of buildings. But today his 19th-century credo is cited in many other spheres where engineering and design interact, including technology and software.

The lines are blurring, though, so that in the future, engineering and design will be seamlessly integrated.

Good designers are engineers,” says Blade Kotelly, senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and vice president of design and consumer experience at Jibo Inc., which makes a social robot for the home. At the same time, customers are no longer as wowed by raw technology and they expect an easy, and aesthetic, user experience.

Design runs to the core of things,” he adds. “Large companies realize they’re being outdone by smaller companies that are putting design at the center of their thinking.”

Brainstorming Brainstorm Business People Design ConceptsThis design-thinking approach can be hard for engineers to understand, Mr. Kotelly says: “The beginning of the design process looks like very little is happening, because the designers are trying to get their brains around the problem fully. Before that, they ask whether the problem is even a good one to solve. Then they figure out what’s going to make the solution successful, then they begin the typical design process of research, prototyping, testing, iterating.”

Modular structures or open-source components that can be swapped in or out in a modular way reduce the risk of change, so “you can iterate faster,” he says.

“It’s important to think architecturally about the system—how it breaks out at the top level and the smaller and smaller components—to be able to observe technology as the landscape is changing,” Mr. Kotelly says.

The Internet of Things is making it possible to create systems as never before. However, we’re likely to soon stop talking about the IoT as it becomes the norm.

“It’s like plastics in the 1960s,” says Dirk Knemeyer, a founder of Involution Studios, a Boston-area software design studio. “The distinction of things being plastic was super-important. A couple of decades passed, and plastic things are just things.”

In the same way, “in the future, everything that is digital and many things that are not will be in the Internet of Things,” he says.

Systems require holistic thinking. And that requires integrated teams. “Getting to a successful integrated model that puts design in an appropriate strategic place can be challenging,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “It requires overcoming the biases and preconceptions of stakeholders who are already in place and who often have a skeptical view of design and creative expression as part of business. They also have existing fiefdoms they control, and fear that order might be upset by redesign of people and processes.”

Tearing down management silos provides a new problem-solving methodology and mindset that can augment the traditional perspectives, whether financial, operational or technological.

The engineering perspective is raw capability: what is the range of possibilities technology can do,” Mr. Knemeyer says. “Design says, ‘from these technologies, here are the things that can be done specific to the needs of customers.’”

Addressing customer needs is at the core of high-impact design, or design that brings a meaningful change in increasing revenues and reducing costs, he adds.

Business People Team Teamwork Working Meeting ConceptAt the same time, design thinking doesn’t just create efficiencies, but new ideas, says Mathias Kirchmer, managing director of BPM-D, a West Chester, Pennsylvania, consultancy that helps companies increase performance through cross-functional business and information-technology initiatives.

In the classic approach, a company starts mapping the processes it needs to accomplish, then optimizing so the processes will be carried out efficiently, then writing the actual software, then implementing or installing it. “It’s very inside-out driven,” Dr. Kirchmer says. “In today’s world, that’s a huge problem. First, it’s too slow. We need a faster approach. Second, the inside-out view doesn’t deliver results to drive profitable growth. It doesn’t improve the customer experience sufficiently. It’s good to be more efficient, but that doesn’t make enough of a difference for the client and move the organization to the next performance level.”

Companies compete in just 15% of their processes, he says. The rest is commodity—that is, matching competitors rather than differentiating beyond them. That high-impact 15% requires innovation enabled through design thinking.

Dr. Kirchmer sees four aspects of design thinking:

• empathy to look at high-impact processes from a customer point of view;
• transfer of ideas from unrelated fields to introduce innovation;
• storytelling to communicate the customer journey and intended innovations in a way that will resonate with all the involved teams;
• rapid prototyping to quickly get to the visual design of user interfaces and software development.

The melding of disciplines means that in the future, designers will need to be more knowledgeable about core science or core engineering. “The way science is moving is going to pull all of us into a more quantified scientific environment,” Mr. Knemeyer says.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock



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