Blog post

Complexity, combination and collaboration: the three "Cs" of product development in the post-COVID era

Written by Enrico Nobile
Dec 18 2020 · 7 min read

We knew well in advance that this edition of the ESTECO Users’ Meeting was going to be different. With Trieste as the European City of Science 2020 and the host of the “ESOF2020 Euroscience Open Forum”, thousands of visitors were expected to flock into town, so we had rescheduled our own event to avoid lodging and transportation difficulties.

As we all know now, the story went quite differently. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, both the ESOF2020 event and the ESTECO UM2020 have undergone massive reorganization.

For the very first time, our Users’ Meeting was organized as a hybrid event, with some participants physically present and others – the majority – connected online. Regardless of the difficulties due to the rapid format change and rescheduling, the event’s success exceeded the most optimistic expectations. With more than 50 speakers, over 300 online attendees, and 60 onsite participants, this first hybrid edition of the ESTECO International Users’ Meeting has been an amazing two-day event.

I would like to thank all participants - speakers and attendees - for their exceptional contribution. The presentations, done in physical presence or pre-recorded with live Q&A sessions, were all very compelling and they stimulated many interesting questions and discussions.

Besides the significant change in the event format, what are the most important aspects of the contributions of our users and the most prominent take-home insights from this UM? I would say that the very leitmotiv of this year’s ESTECO Users’ Meeting can be summarized with the triple "c": complexity, combination, and collaboration.

“C” for complexity

From our users' presentations, it was clear that the applications of our products, modeFRONTIER and VOLTA, were characterized by an increased degree of complexity due to the models being more and more distinguished by a high level of detail and fidelity. This requires intelligent exploitation of computational resources like High-Performance Computing (HPC), and the adoption of advanced Response Surface algorithms available in modeFRONTIER and VOLTA, in order to reduce the overall optimization time and augment the exploration of the design space.

The modeling, in some circumstances, not only had to deal with multiple physics and disciplines but also it had to consider the system's behavior at different spatial and time scales.

In addition, for industrial applications, design variables like geometrical parameters, as well as material properties and boundary conditions, are frequently characterized by a certain degree of uncertainty and random variability that need to be accounted for. Robust design and reliability are becoming common requirements for industrial and consumer products.

For Example, John Crew, MDO Technical Specialist at Cummins, in his talk offered a deep dive into how Cummins utilizes modeFRONTIER and proved the importance of performing the studies as early as possible in the design process, even when only preliminary design requirements are available.

He presented a bolt failure investigation and a connecting-rod design. The latter was optimized considering balancing, torsional analysis, and bending and bearings, thus enabling, by complex design space explored across conceptual models, a first time right design. Among his conclusions, he underlined that “Robust modeling is essential”.

“C” for combination

In many cases, our users benefit in their workflows from the combination of several models and submodels with different levels of fidelity, from 0D (lumped-element model) to 1D up to complex 3D models.

The models, either obtained from in-house or commercial applications, have to be interfaced and integrated within complex workflows, a task where modeFRONTIER is best-in-class.

In addition, the objectives and constraints also need to be properly selected and combined, in order to maximize the benefits of the optimization when computational resources are at a premium.

ESTECO Technologies are officially supporting two prestigious Teams of the 36th America’s Cup: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and American Magic. In their presentations, they emphasized the difficulties in the design of such unusual yachts, given the short timeframe and the complexity of the design challenge.

Martin Fischer, the Co-design coordinator of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, in his presentation - Using modeFRONTIER for the Optimization of the AC75 Yacht Luna Rossa for the 36th America's Cup - focusing on their approach to the hull optimization, explained that they “identified a set of critical sailing conditions (speed, displacement, trim, pitch, leeway,...) and defined a combination of drag and vertical lift for those conditions as the cost function.”

“Being a newly assembled design team we needed a software allowing us to quickly and easily integrate tools and methods that each individual or small group had used or developed in the past as well as all the new specific tools necessary for the AC75”, explained Giorgio Provinciali, Leader of the Performance Prediction of the New York Yacht Club Team American Magic, in his talk.

Being a newly assembled design team, we needed a software allowing us to quickly and easily integrate tools and methods that each individual or small group had used or developed in the past as well as all the new specific tools necessary for the AC75.
Giorgio Provinciali
Head of Performance Prediction
American Magic

"C" for collaboration

The necessity to integrate highly complex modeling and optimization workflows, which in turn require the combination of models of varying degree of fidelity – from lumped parameters up to geometrically complex, time-dependent 3D models – and the use and integration of models from several disciplines and different experts, benefits from collaboration among different teams, each responsible of well-defined tasks, and experts of their own specific disciplines.

This requires a platform, VOLTA, which allows smooth collaboration and secure sharing of models, data, and processes.

Juan Montoro, Conceptual Design Manager & EXPEDITE Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, in his presentation illustrated very clearly the necessity to smoothly integrate ten different disciplines, from geometry up to cost and operations analysis, and the use of ESTECO VOLTA and modeFRONTIER within the EXPEDITE program. Among his conclusions, he affirms that the “ESTECO tools enabled EXPEDITE MDO capability advancement” and embrace “Digital engineering at an enterprise level and go all-in on collaborative MDO to enable real change”.

These three aspects – Complexity, Combination, and Collaboration – are at the core of modeFRONTIER and VOLTA since their first inception. Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Simulation Process and Data Management (SPDM), cloud and ubiquitous availability – remain the key elements for the development of ESTECO technologies. We can assure all our users that ESTECO will maintain and increase its efforts in constantly improving and expanding its product’s portfolio, always keeping in mind that the main objective is to guarantee to our users their competitiveness in today’s – and tomorrow’s – aggressive and fast-changing market.

Enrico Nobile

Enrico Nobile is the co-founder of ESTECO and the company's Scientific Advisor. He is also a Professor of Thermodynamics and Thermal-fluids at the University of Trieste. He has a post-graduate degree diploma from Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) in Belgium. Enrico supervised several Ph.D. theses and he collaborated with many research institutions including New Brunswick University (Canada), Kolektor Turboinštitut (SI), Politecnico di Milano and Consorzio Padova Ricerche. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 scientific publications.

Democratize product development with Simulation Process and Data Management

White paper