Upfront CAE doesn’t work in the hall

Here’s a common mistake companies make when implementing upfront CFD or FEA. After a long, detailed evaluation process, they make a $30k investment in a single software license plus training for a full 8 person team. So far so good!

Then, someone decides to install the CFD tool on a spare, communal machine out in a hallway or broom closet. Sometimes, that computer is even a hi-powered piece of hardware specifically purchased to support all the number crunching inherent in this new CAE initiative. Sounds reasonable and well thought out, right? Nope.

If you do this, you are clearly sending these messages to your engineers:

  • Upfront CAE is NOT an expected part of the development process
  • Upfront CAE is NOT valued as a natural engineering activity
  • Upfront CAE is only for motivated specialists

It is extremely important to provide easy access to upfront CAE tools. Every engineer who might have call to use such tools should have them installed on the same machine where they use CAD and Microsoft Word. Here are the human factors that spell success:

  • The engineer feels an ownership of the tool because it is “in” their workspace… right next to the picture of a son or daughter stuck to the edge of the monitor.
  • The engineer doesn’t have to export or transfer CAD data, push back from her desk, stand up, walk away from her phone & email, and walk over to the communal computer only to find it is already in use.
  • The engineer is more likely to try crazy (ie innovative) ideas that she wouldn’t feel comfortable trying if she is monopolizing a communal resource.

If you want to make upfront CAE usage part of your product development culture, make damn sure it can easily be part of your engineers’ daily work.