Shakespeare’s Stratford the setting for ANSYS production

The Warwickshire town of Stratford-upon-Avon played host to this year's event - image courtesy of Bernard Gagnon.

The Manufacturer's James Pozzi writes from the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the UK location of the 2013 ANSYS Convergence conference, about an event giving delegates the opportunity to converge with the company over its latest innovations in simulation technology.

ANSYS, the global engineering simulation software company, took the UK leg of its 2013 Convergence Regional Conference to the quaint surroundings of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon.

Reminders of the Bard were plentiful, as the conference began with two RSC actors playing out a medley of the playwright’s most famous plays. From Romeo and Juliet to A Midnight Summer Night’s Dream, all bases were covered as ANSYS prepared to unveil its own production.

As is the form, the men at the top open up proceedings to discuss company objectives, strategies and visions. ANSYS European marketing director Gary Panes arrived with a screen talking of ‘Engineering the Impossible’, citing ventures such as space travel for pleasure, liking it to science fiction becoming science fact.

Mr Panes also described innovations in increased automotive wiring, and 200-300 million software codes in high end engineering. Underpinning ANSYS software was a focus on four key factors of: fluid dynamics, structured mechanics, electromagnetic and the combination of systems and multi physics.

Having made a series of recent acquisitions, including the purchase of Esterel Technologies last year and the recent acquisition of Swiss company EVEN, its intent to become the dominant force in the market is evident.

In terms of products, Mr Panes said it intends to release a cloud-based solution later in this year, giving engineers the chance to stop and starts jobs remotely.

He also expanded on the upcoming release of the Version program. It will involve mesh assembly; hold chemistry computations, enhanced HPC scalability and a new eigensolver, used to calculate eigenvalues and eigenvectors

He was followed by Greg Fairlie, UK consultancy manager for ANSYS, who gave a brief update on the company’s technical services and how it was best supporting its customer base.

The online menu for technical support has been improved, with a customer portal introduced last year to enable quicker and more concise access to address technical queries or problems. Additionally, Ansys also offers on tutorials on site, client premises and online through Webex.

After a brief interval, presentations began with the first block of the morning taken up by ANSYS employees, draped in yellow and black helter skelter ties, showcasing its ever expanding product range.

Damage contours of reinforced concrete with loading, simulated using ANSYS
Damage contours of reinforced concrete with loading, simulated using ANSYS - image courtesy of Ansys.

Satish Patange, formerly of ANSYS’ Indian operations, discussed its Turbomachinery CFD system, recently updated in a new 14.5 format.

He described the program’s complete suite of software tools, which makes mechanical simulations before passing it onto the CAD package when the user is happy with the design. When editing, for example, a blade, the program’s CAD products are now merged together to improve the blade editor tool.

Mr Patange was followed by Dr Hamid R. Hazby of PCA Engineers, who discussed ‘Developing Capability and Improving Productivity for Centrifugal Compressor Design.’

Aside from explaining how ANSYS has improved his company’s workflow, connectivity between different analysis types and the overall consistency of analysis, Dr Hazby also highlighted its flexibility, as it can be applied to different types of turbo machines.

A common theme was that of unification, with ANSYS striving to create packages accommodating users with solutions across a wide range of industries.

After lunch, one of the most talked about presentations of the day by Dr Tom Allen, a lecturer in engineering design at Sheffield Hallam University, on simulating the impact of a cricket ball on a bat began.

With a packed room full of intrigued cricket fans like me, the level of detail and insight went far beyond that of Geoff Boycott on Test Match Special.

Having also worked with the International Tennis Federation and Ping gold, Dr Allen’s expertise stretches across a wide variety of sports. As an Ansys user doing a great deal of work in CFD, this scenario was centred on work with cricketing manufacturer Gunnar Moore.

In the process of building and validating the bat, issues such as measuring the speed of the ball off the bat and how safety might be affected are determined.

Once constructed, both bat and ball are suspended mid air and filmed at 1000 frames a second, with the ball making contact at 30 metres per second. This enables the velocity to be validated, the material properties calculated and the long term range of the bat determined.

ANSYS Workbench thermoelectric analysis
An ANSYS Workbench thermoelectric analysis.

Equally popular was Cristian Biotto’s of Mott MacDonald’s presentation, ‘Explosion Modelling in a Metro Station,’ which deals with how a public transport structure can deal with different explosion types.

Categorised as physical (volcanic), nuclear (atomic) and chemical, which releases large amounts of energy in a short space of time, Mr Biotto’s work in his field is carried out through the Ansys Autodyn program, giving him the capability to make accurate and valid explosion prediction methods.

To do this, the program makes simulates complex fluid-structure interactions, taking into account non-linear behaviour and impacts. He detailed his work at a mock station in the English countryside, and exploring the impact of explosions on structures in both train tunnels and the open air.

Also key to its research is experimenting on glass, where the ‘crack factor’ is sort out by exploding standard windows and double glazed.

Rounding out the day was Martin Sneddon of BAE’s regional aircraft division. Over the past year, BAE has conducted a high fidelity whole aircraft CFD analysis when carrying out modifications to its RJ85 aircraft.

The results of simulation has proved beneficial to BAE, as it was suitable both Loads analysis and Certification, without the need for additional wind tunnel testing.

Using the facilities of ICEM Block Structured meshing toolset, it was possible to construct complex topology over real world aircraft geometry within tight project timescales and using a modest HPC facility. Such ventures into the manufacturing world are not uncommon for a company which has made its name primarily in engineering.

As the conference drew to a close and delegates disembarked, the sheer level of innovation in simulation coupled with its potential to grow and influence the sectors of engineering, manufacturing and beyond is all very impressive stuff.

A quote from Shakespeare’s Henry the Eighth, “to climb steep hills requires slow pace at first,” might have been applicable to ANSYS  in its 40 years of of operating in simulation. But right now, the company is accelerating at pace.  With a growing influence only set to grow stronger with new innovations designed at meeting change in the world, ANSYS is very much setting the standard at present.