Ever watch your 14 year old son playing Halo 3 on that bigscreen living room TV? The violence is disturbing, but the technology is breath-taking. Dozens of real people from all over the world are guiding their amazingly realistic, digital alter-egos through an incredibly detailed world of virtual reality. They are excited and totally engaged with this 3D, computerized landscape… so much so that the “virtual” part of this reality is becoming debatable.
Take a walk through your engineering department once upfront CFD or FEA has taken hold as a common, every-day part of the development process. Peek over the shoulder of one of those young whippersnapper engineers and you might see a 3D visualization of airflow, temperature spread, or part bending that would be right at home in any modern video game.
The first and most obvious return on investment from upfront CAE comes from reduced physical prototyping time, cost, and materials. The second return comes from superior product innovation that eventually leads to more customers buying your product instead of the “same old same old” from your competitors.
You can take a third return from upfront CAE by integrating the sexy output images and animations into your sales and marketing efforts. At the base level, this collateral tells your customers and prospects that you are an innovator in the industry. It builds comfort and credibility. If you are selling at premium price points, this kind of market differentiation is essential.
Your sales teams can even take the technology a step farther by actively using upfront CAE in responding to RFQs and going after new business. Let’s say you sell ruggedized military computer systems and specialize in low volume, customized solutions. Effective thermal management in such products is typically a major requirement. However, there are many component and configuration options that can’t be fully fleshed out in the proposal process. Imagine if your team could walk into the initial sales call with 3D, interactive virtual examples of several design options with “dummy components” set to best and worst case heat load estimates? Imagine if you could get the prospect to jam his finger at your laptop screen and suggest changes in the first meeting?
Your competitors are coming in with detailed written proposals, boring powerpoint presentations, and obnoxious blow-hard salesguys. If you were in your prospect’s shoes, who would you want to do business with?