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Product Lifecycle and Engineering Data Management (PLM) on the Cloud

Engineering analysis processes include activities such as product design and product analysis, including mesh generation, definition of boundary conditions, simulation, and post-processing. In any engineering company the highly iterative simulation process results in huge amounts of files and data with many different representations of the 3D product model. For an engineer it is a challenge to keep an overview of related data (configuration control) and extract the essential information for product optimization, demanding a user-friendly overview over configuration controlled data sets and an easy and fast visual inspection.

Stellba, the end user in this case study, is a Germany-based SME operating in the field of hydropower plant maintenance, repair and overhaul. For the green energy sector they are engineering and manufacturing one-of-a-kind products with the goal to optimize energy efficiency. For the process of managing evaluation results, Stellba uses a multitude of different software packages with high license costs, training efforts and requirements towards human skills. The process is tedious and the locally installed software packages limit accessibility to the corresponding computers – there is no remote / web access. So, on average, Stellba spends 4 weeks on organizing and reviewing simulation results in parallel to running the simulations themselves. The goal of this case study is to reduce the amount of effort spent on reviewing and managing results by typically 1 week (i.e., by 25%), through the development of a dedicated solution with inter-application communication and by exploiting HPC resources for fast, accurate and optimized visualisation.

With the help of Fraunhofer IGD (a research institute in Germany specializing in visual computing) and Jotne AS (a Norwegian SME developing and distributing software for interoperability of industrial data and end-user applications with focus on PLM functionality), the time for reviewing and managing simulation results at Stellba is being reduced by saving about 40 person-hours of work for a medium-sized turbine optimisation project. By shortening the elapsed time for handling projects, Stellba's capacity for new projects increases and reduced product costs lead to better competitiveness. The ownership of data by Stellba is also improved as project data are archived in a standard format (STEP, ISO 10303). The introduction of these processes will help to preserve existing jobs.

The software components for analysis review and management are new HPC Cloud services provided by Fraunhofer IGD and Jotne, respectively, packaged into a workflow to be easily accessible, usable and affordable. With this new Cloud service approach, both software providers have enriched their software functionality for a more useful, usable and efficient presentation and analysis of simulation results. Since the topic of PLM and visualization addressed in this study is of high relevance for many manufacturing branches, in the future hundreds or even thousands of new usages of this software per year have become possible. The corresponding additional revenue can put Jotne into the position to hire 5 new sales and support persons for marketing the new solution and for supporting customers.

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