Concept Design Analysis

Concept design analysis is analysis performed during or tailored to the concept design phase of the engineering product development process.

Within the context of Total Design the development process is:

  1. Market Requirements
  2. Product Specification
  3. Concept Design
  4. Detailed Design
  5. Manufacture
  6. Sell

Focusing on the engineering dominated phases concept design, detailed design and manufacture, reveals that each activity is successively exponentially more costly. Also each activity successively reduces the ability to improve the cost-performance balance. Detailed design and manufacture is the domain of Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)/Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) software that has proved highly effective at reducing final manufacturing costs and optimizing product performance. Based on these assumptions, it is clear that concept design has a major influence on the final product cost-performance balance and is relatively cheap.

However, concept design is poorly served at present by software-based analysis. Typically ad-hoc analysis using pen, paper, calculator and generic office software (such as Microsoft Excel) are the preferred tools. This is because there are typically numerous concept designs, spanning multi-physics, to evaluate in order to enter the more structured and measurable detailed design phase. Clearly analysis techniques for concept designs need to be fast with, at a minimum, order of magnitude accuracy.

Caedium ScreenshotCaedium Screenshot

For concept designs represented by simple geometry it would seem that existing software-based analysis should be viable. However, due to steep learning curves (typically requiring knowledge of more than one software analysis tool), pricing and computer resource requirements, casual use during concept design is not viable. Ideally, analysis for concept design requires a simple and efficient single, unified simulation environment. It should incorporate a toolbox of techniques that provide alternative levels of resource requirements, turnaround time and accuracy.

Switching techniques should be easy, making use of physics-based terminology rather than technique-based terminology. The ability to compare competing designs and present results are also essential. There is a need for a concept design analysis sketchpad and Symscape is crafting such a system in Caedium.