ANSYS Acquires CEI to Brighten Up Its Results
Roopinder Tara posted on July 11, 2017 | 4292 views
Engine model made in EnSight. Model shows how fuel sprays into an internal combustion engine. (image courtesy of ANSYS.)

Engine model made in EnSight. Model shows how fuel sprays into an internal combustion engine. (image courtesy of ANSYS.)

Co-author: Shawn Wasserman

ANSYS, a company with as complete a toolset as a CAE vendor can get, realized that even its own post-processing and data analysis was not state of the art.

However, the company noted that one of its partners, Computational Engineering International, Inc (CEI), had a terrific post processor called EnSight. ANSYS admitted this product had taken the lead in visualizing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) results and other types of data.

Looking ahead at the company roadmap, the work to be done on the digital twin, which often entailed simulation, ANSYS needed to have to get more adept at managing its result data. The company could try to catch CEI and match the capabilities of EnSight, the company’s flagship. Or maybe there was a better way?

Today, ANSYS announced that it acquired CEI.

Visualization of large data sets, such as this CFD analysis, is a CEI forté. (Image courtesy of CEI.)
Visualization of large data sets, such as these CFD results, is a CEI forté. (Image courtesy of CEI.)

While there is overlap between the companies’ products (both have post processors and data viewers), this move is clearly meant to give ANSYS a step change in its post processing capability of large CAE datasets and CFD in particular.

“We focused on ‘good enough’ post processing that was needed to visualize simulation data,” said Mark Hindsbo, vice president and general manager at ANSYS. "With terabytes of simulation results being generated, finding the nuggets you needed to make informed decisions isn’t always easy. CEI takes it a step further; it’s really a separate discipline. They add a lot more features and ways to visualize the data, produce analytics and create photorealistic animations and stills.”

“CFD datasets are some of the biggest,” added Hindsbo. “Post processing is sometimes as taxing as solving a simulation, so this has an HPC aspect. EnSight will break it down into something easier to process.”

EnSight is a solver-neutral CAE post processing tool that is already compatible with ANSYS’ technology. The aim will be to fully integrate the tool into ANSYS Workbench and, potentially, other ANSYS products. This will open up Workbench to post process simulation data from third party solvers. The tool also features the ability to merge simulation results into photorealistic stills and videos.

EnSight model shows a car moving at 70 mph with isosurface colorization to represent turbulent kinetic energy. This can help designers optimize a design to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. (image courtesy of ANSYS.)
EnSight model shows a car moving at 70 mph with isosurface colorization to represent turbulent kinetic energy. This can help designers optimize a design to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency. (image courtesy of ANSYS.)
“We plan to integrate EnSight natively into Workbench and make it work smoothly with other portfolio products,” Hindsbo explained. “We want to make it into a compelling user experience and workflow. You can expect CEI technology to find its way in several products in the ANSYS’ portfolio. Expect our post processing to look and work a lot better.”

EnSight will continue to exist as a standalone product and interface with other CAE platforms. In other words, if you currently have a license to use EnSight you can breathe easy: it will still remain valid under the acquisition. “This is in keeping with our interoperability with simulation and design software, even if it is not our own,” said Hindsbo.

Engineers should also expect to see EnSight be a big digital twin and Internet of Things (IoT) win for ANSYS. The technologies will work well together for processing real-time data to inform various product teams concerned with multiple aspects of a product’s lifecycle. And with EnSight’s photorealistic abilities, expect to see some virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) applications as well.

“EnSight fits into our IoT, big data and pervasive engineering vision,” noted Hindsbo. “It will help bring simulation from a verification step to a step earlier in product development and throughout the lifecycle. Edge computing and the cloud will fuel this vision and are growing. Visualization needs to work for both.”

Hindsbo took this concept a step further saying, “The real goal is to make simulation invisible. Users who are not simulation experts will one day be able to consume simulation results with real time sensor data.” What he’s referring to is the democratization of simulation, where simulation experts will be able to pass their knowledge onto other team members by creating templates, apps and fit-for-purpose CAE tools that will take all the complex decisions out of the simulation process.

However, Hindsbo was careful to mention that ANSYS isn’t getting into the IoT platform market. That will be left to organizations like GE and PTC, which are already partnering with ANSYS to bring sensor data into their simulations.

“Today, ANSYS and CEI at their core is simulation for product development’s sake. Today, analysts use it for product development. But this is a step towards the digital twin and simulation for the sake of simulation, as CEI’s technology can scale to future scenarios like virtual reality and the IoT,” clairified Hindsbo.

ANSYS is not revealing how much it paid for CEI, a common practice for publicly traded companies if the acquisition cost is not considered “material,” meaning less than a certain portion of the company’s revenue, income and assets.

ANSYS is currently closing in on a billion dollars in annual revenue. The company’s last disclosed acquisition was SpaceClaim, for which it paid $85 million USD in 2014. CEI claims 750 customers, though it is not clear how many may already be ANSYS customers as wel.

Most of CEI’s 28 employees are housed at the company headquarters in Apex, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh and part of the area’s Research Triangle. Voted the best place to live in 2015, ANSYS is not even trying to move anyone from CEI to the company’s Pittsburg-area headquarters.

Most of the employees from CEI will remain with ANSYS. The technical crew is joining the platform team and the CEI sales team are expanding their sales portfolio to include ANSYS products.

“We will establish the Apex, North Carolina office as our new Center of Excellence for post -processing,” noted Hindsbo.


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