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CAE on the Cloud: Challenges and Solutions to Accessibility in Computer Aided Engineering and the Birth of EASA

by Sebastian Dewhurst in All Blog Posts, CAD/CAE

One of the biggest challenges engineering-intense industries face can be in the deployment of complex engineering simulation models to end users who don’t have the same level of technical expertise. In his article CAE on the Cloud, General Manager of Nanosoft America Evan Yares asserts that “the biggest problem with computer aided engineering (CAE) is that too few people use it.” The challenge that many companies face in properly utilizing CAE tools to realize innovative and often money-saving solutions lies in their accessibility (or lack there of).

When EASA set out 10 years ago to solve the “barriers to entry” challenges that hinder accessibility, our approach was very much guided by our experience working within a CFD vendor (CFX, now part of ANSYS).

We observed that even our largest customers only purchased a few seats of CFX, a powerful CAE tool, even though many more users would have loved to be able to use it. However, they didn’t have the time to learn a complex tool like CFX, and thus one of the biggest hindrances in the company’s deployment of more efficient engineering solutions was the inherent learning curve associated with the tools themselves. The average user wasn’t equipped with the knowledge to properly utilize these tools.

We did have some initial success building “vertical applications,” basically highly specialized tools focused on end-user use cases (i.e. very simple inputs, few options, and highly customized, automated results). The apps were incredibly time consuming and costly to code, and because they were so customized to the user, we couldn’t then deploy them to another company whose processes were different.

What we needed was a better way to build vertical apps, almost on demand, without the time and cost associated with traditional coding – and so EASA was born. Interestingly, the initial though was that we would use EASA to (profitably) build vertical CAE apps for our customers as a service, and deploy them over the Internet. However, it soon became apparent that with EASA’s codeless app builder, the best person to build the vertical app is actually the person who built the underlying model. Not only that, but since our customers already had the software and hardware to run CAE models, it made more sense to install EASA on premises, to facilitate connection to back-end compute servers (not to mention security concerns associated with critical IP being on the Cloud, which of course remains an issue).

So, EASA became a product, usually deployed on an “internal cloud,” and customers as diverse as HP, GE, P&G, Xerox, Pfizer, and Canon now use it on a daily basis to build and publish web apps on top of “templatized” models.

Of course, there is only a motive to do this when a particular model needs to be run somewhat repetitively, with changes to input parameters, In cases where there is a need, there can be really significant value to the business in non-experts being able to safely execute simulations without having to take up the valuable time of the model author.

 

Could your company benefit from the deployment of CAE tools through a system like EASA? How would improving the efficiency of the end-user or “non expert” help to improve your bottom line?

Article by EASA Software

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