Measuring the Value of Simulation
Chad Jackson posted on August 27, 2012 |

Sometimes, life throws little surprises at you that end up helping you think hard about things. One such opportunity came upon me just a while ago.

An associate of mine in the industry suggested to the folks at NAFEMs that I present during their North American conference in Washington DC. If you're not familiar with NAFEMs, then I suggest you check them out. They're the preeminent association that focuses on engineering simulation and analysis in the world. The North American event is shaping up to be a really good one. They'll have speakers from Dana, Caterpillar, NavSea, NIST and more. If you can, seriously consider attending.

What to Present? Making Simulation Business Relevant

To figure out what exactly I should present at the conference, I got on the phone with the NAFEMs folks. It's always good to understand what topics and issues are top of mind for attendees. As it turns out, one of the most important issues that attendees from their last conference cited was how to make simulation more business relevant. Sounds right up my alley. I wrote about how simulation is an enabling technology for a slew of engineering initiatives in my Engineering Manager's Survival Guide. So with that in mind, I happily signed up to cover it.

Research Studies at ENGINEERING.com 

Now I certainly have a lot of opinions on simulation and how they are relevant to business initiatives. But I have to be honest, I love research. I like testing longstanding thoughts, opinions, preconceptions and premises with statistical evidence from surveys. Heck, we have a good strong community here. What better place to do exactly that?

Once every couple months, or perhaps more frequently, we'll be conducting research studies on Design Software topics. We'll host a survey, collect responses and perform some analysis. Then we'll publish an concise and easy to consume info-graphic style research report with the results. Anyone in the community can then download the report and cite the results. 

The Hypothesis Behind the Value of Simulation

OK. So, we want to figure out the business value of simulation. Should be easy, right? Everyone knows that simulation reduces prototypes and testing. That correlates to fewer downstream errors and change orders. And this stuff applies equally to every organization. Right? Right?

Well, I don't mean to burst anyone's bubble, but… I don't buy it.

Well, what a second. That's a bit strong. Lets say I'm skeptical. I've done enough research to know that different engineering organizations value things differently. Small engineering organizations can't afford to have specialized simulation analysts. Engineering organizations designing weapons systems in air fighters worry about completely different things than those that design springs. Companies that pursue government defense contracts value different things that companies that make consumer products.

And here's why all this is important. If you're running an 5 person engineering organization for a automotive contract manufacturer, you want to know what aspect of simulation will provide your company the most value, not just any kind of engineering organization. That's the purpose of the study.

How Do You Participate?

Well, that's easy. Take the survey. We'll send you the info-graphic research report once it is complete.

If you attend the NAFEMs North American event, you'll see me adding a lot of commentary and analysis to it.

Summary and Questions

Recap time.

  • I'll be presenting on Making Simulation Business Relevant at the NAFEMs North American event.
  • We'll be performing a research study on the Value of Simulation here at ENGINEERING.com. Results will be published in an concise and easy to consume info-graphic style research report.
  • You can participate by survey, which is live now.

Here's my question for this post. What would you like us to research next? I'll be performing a similar study on the 2012 State of PLM which I'll present at the PLM Innovation Americas conference in Atlanta GA. But I'm open to suggestions other than that.

Take care. Talk soon. And thanks for reading.

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