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Affordable CFD simulation software for SMEs in the transportation industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SENSE (Affordable CFD simulation software for SMEs in the transportation industry)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

CFD simulation tools are key in the automotive industry, as they lead to faster development times, lower costs, higher added value and higher overall innovation capabilities. However, their complexity (requiring highly specialized engineers for preparation and data interpretation) and high license/hardware costs hinder their implementation by a larger number of companies, as SMEs cannot afford such investments.
In response to this need identified by our customers in the automotive industry (Audi, BMW, Daimler, VW) for affordable and user-friendly CFD software, at ESS Steyr we are developing SENSE: an innovative modular CFD solver which uses Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) running on GPUs. The use of SPH together with our intuitive GUI simplifies the process, compared to the Finite Element Method and Finite Volume Method used in most current CFD tools, eliminating time consuming pre- and post-processing and reducing simulation run times to 1/10th. As the first modular CFD solution in the market, SENSE provides SENSE users easy-to-use modules targeted at the one application they require, optimized to their needs and with pre-set boundary conditions, instead of having to buy complex, predefined toolboxes with features they will never use. Moreover, as it runs on GPUs instead of CPUs, hardware requirements are much lower, reducing costs from € 400,000 to € 40,000.
In this way, we aim to disrupt the automotive market by facilitating the SMEs in the industry (over 2,500 only in Europe) with the access to the much-needed simulation software in their day-to-day operations: with SENSE, SMEs will operate more cost- and time efficient, become more competitive and be at the forefront of innovation, thereby boosting the efficiency and competitiveness of the European Automotive Industry.
The main results achieved by SENSE project can be categorized in 3 items:
1 Applications
The used WC-SPH Solver is mature to picture industrial applications when it comes to heat transfer tasks, free surface flow and rotating objects. The following easy to use applications are available by now.
PVC Sealing: The material behaves Non-Newtonian and tests revealed that the accuracy of the solver is very high. Validation results with AUDI have been promising.
Waxing: Wax is used as corrosion protection in cavities in the paint shop. Either it is sprayed onto the surface or the cavities are filled with liquid. In both cases it is critical to be able to take the effect of temperature into account. The cooler it is the more wax gets attached to the surface. Validation results with Volkswagen have been promising.
Rain: One can place a car body at any angle and let it rain from the top. The usage of GPU technology allows to user many particles, able to picture the physical reality nicely.
Gear Box: Torque loss and proper fluid flow can be obtained in an easy way. The solver also considers the needed surface tension.
Water bath crossing: The car moves through water of different heights. The liquid gets splashed away and may lead into the car body.
Sloshing: A proper fluid flow and impacts behavior could get obtained when liquid is sloshing inside a tank.
Color paint of car bodies: This is a spray application and works like waxing, but finder resolution of the particles. When particle hit the surface, the fluid disappears and a scalar value is stored on the surface to represent the color code to visualize the results.
2 Easy To Use
With help of the SENSE project it is possible to target a new user group to become CFD users. Previously only CFD experts could use such software tool. Due to the ease of use concept, SENSE creates a new market. Each application has its own user interface. This is supposed to be a time-consuming task (typically least 6 men months’ time), which is needed for each application. In order to avoid this time-consuming task, we decided to develop a so called “mother user interface”, one which can picture everything. This user interface is not carried to any customer. It is just for internal testing and validation in use. Out of this mother GUI one can easily derive an application-based user interface. During this project we expected to develop a scenario allowing us to develop a new application based GUI in 2 weeks. However, we still need about 1-month. But in short, we expect to enhance this mother user interface allowing us to make a new user interface within 5 working days.
The easy to use interface is already in use at AUDI and VW by people not having CFD experiences. Their ongoing feedback is very helpful to understand their way of thinking. The feedback so far is very promising.
3 Dissemination and Exploitation
Dissemination and Exploitation activities in this project were comprehensive. We had 34 press releases, 212 social media articles, 26 conference participations. 4 SENSE workshops, and our first international SENSE workshop
By mid May we hosted together with the support of German Society for Surface Technologies, our 1st international in-house conference, hold in our hometown Steyr, Austria. We welcomed over 40 participants from many different industries. We successfully addressed a program which featured diverse paintshop applications, the latest break-throughs in coatings simulation, and presented our CFD software SENSE.
In 2 days, speakers from various industries and companies gave great insight into their daily processes and how they are supported by simulation software. Two highlights were the presentations given by Dr. Alan Matschke of Eisenmann SE who spoke on “Process Simulation of Pre-treatment Processes in High-volume Car Body Painting” and BMW Engineer, Mr Gerhard Fuchs who reported findings on the “Optimization of Industrial Washing Facilities by Using Simulation and Metrology.” The later talk was written in cooperation with BMW and ESS and SENSE technology has helped BMW to optimize its industrial washing
These case studies with renowned companies will help to spread the word that our SENSE technology is unique, and highly effective.
The main target customers of SENSE will be companies within the automotive sector, defined in two segments: large automotive manufacturing companies, and SMEs involved in the automotive production process.
Our customers’ needs are:
- Minimize costs and maximize added value and profit: simulation software is key as it will allow to reduce costs on product development (e.g. prototypes).
- Simplify the R&D process: development processes using CFD (currently lengthy and complex).
- Reduce environmental footprint.
SENSE provides a threefold solution:
- Our solution will be sold at a competitive price and does not require expensive equipment for its implementation.
- It will reduce product development costs by increasing the efficiency of development cycles: as most of the boundary conditions are pre-set, no meshes need to be constructed, saving 100% of pre-processing time. Moreover, given the ease of use and fast pre- and post-processing, the overall time spent on simulations will be 90% shorter than conventional CFD solutions.
- CFD results are often incorrect due to the complexity of the solver preparation. With module applications, the results will be both precise and easy to understand, reducing the needs for actual prototyping, and thus reducing the environmental impact of the companies. SENSE will enable its use by any user, not requiring technical knowledge.