Lear Creates CAE Software Targeting Automotive Workflows

Lear Corporation creates Virtual Proving Grounds using Mentor Graphics’ Capital software.

Virtual Proving Grounds from Lear Corporation. (Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.)

Virtual Proving Grounds from Lear Corporation. (Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.)

Lear Corporation, a provider of automotive electrical distribution systems, has announced it is deploying Mentor Graphics’ Capital software within its proprietary computer-aided engineering (CAE) platform.

Dubbed the Lear Virtual Proving Grounds (LVPG), the CAE platform is optimized to design electrical and mechanical processes, such as wire harness designs, for the automotive industry.

LVPG has both an electrical and mechanical design layer. The CAE tool will confirm that data is passed between both layers to ensure that the information being used is synchronized.

“The LVPG gave our engineers a platform . . . to take the elements of their designs, put them in the tool and digest the output to feed the next level [of the design cycle],” said Bill Presley, electrical engineering vice president at Lear Corporation. “It gave us the opportunity to really optimize architectures in real time and look at the trade-offs and complexity. It also allowed for real-time functional simulations.”

Mentor Graphics’ Capital software is the basis of the electrical layer of LVPG. Nick Smith, business development director at Mentor Graphics, explained, “The LVPG is a Lear proprietary environment, but embedded within that are a number of commercial tools, specifically some from Capital that help with the electrical design. Lear takes commercial software tools from Mentor Graphics and embeds them within its CAE develop process it calls the LVPG.”

Many Capital functions are available within LVPG, including:

  • Connectivity capture
  • Design optimization
  • Electrical simulation
  • Platform level wiring synthesis
  • Verification

The platform also includes methods to validate the CAE results to bench scale testing.

“As we conceived LVPG, it became clear that Capital offered a choice for electrical design that could meet our needs,” described Presley. “Not only does the Capital suite deliver flow coverage and automation, its data-centric philosophy and integration capabilities suit Lear’s virtual design philosophy of delivering robust designs rapidly to our OEM customers. It is a further bonus that we can flow Capital harness design data directly into our worldwide production systems, delivering a seamless design-to-manufacture process.”

The announcement of the LVPG CAE platform was made at the Integrated Electrical Solutions Forum (IESF) Automotive Conference presented by Mentor Graphics.

The Benefits of Designing a Proprietary CAE Platform

Capital tools from Lear Corporation. (Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.)

Capital tools from Lear Corporation. (Image courtesy of Mentor Graphics.)

Things have changed in the automotive industry. It seems that cars are becoming more complex, while the time to develop them has shrunk considerably.

“The typical development cycle in the 1990s was five years,” said Presley. “We’ve slowly seen that compress. Now we are turning programs around in 28 months in some cases. In addition, the amount of feature concepts in the model is just exploding. If you look at 1995 to 2015, the number of functions on a vehicle went from under 100 to over 200. We’ve taken the typical circuit count from 800 into the 1000s range, and the real estate is not getting easier.”

Presley explained that traditionally cars were made using prototypes and trial and error. But there isn’t enough time for this anymore. As a result, Lear needed to look toward CAE to speed up its development cycle. However, even with CAE, there still isn’t enough time to test out every possible permutation and situation a car might experience.

“Because of the complexity of today’s products, it’s impossible to verify every buildable combination of a car,” said Rick Burns, global program manager at Mentor Graphics. Burns further explained that engineers should build the most complex version of the vehicle for bench validations of CAE results to ensure they match the real world.

Performing this study takes a lot of work and a lot of data. As a result, it is much easier to keep track of it all within a single proprietary platform optimized to your industry workflows. That was one reason why Lear created the LVPG.

“The biggest challenge is data correctness for CAE,” explained Smith. “This is a domain that is traditionally document rather than data based if you are doing simulation and automated engineering that needs to be formed by a solid base of engineering data, such as libraries. With that in place you can do some real CAE to compress your development times to ensure it is right the first time.”

One key aspect of LVPG is the connection between the mechanical and electrical designs. This multiphysics approach outlines how connected both these domains have become in the automotive industry.

“First, you have to get your mind behind the fact that electrical and mechanical aspects are intricately linked,” said Presley. “You can’t design mechanically if you don’t understand what the product is doing electrically.”

To implement the linkage between its mechanical and electrical designs in a way to best suits its automotive workflows, Lear opted to make a platform of its own that is supplemented by third-party software like Capital from Mentor Graphics.

“Lear has decided to standardize on Mentor Graphics’ tools to enable their CAE environment,” said Burns. “The LVPG is enabling their engineers in the development of electrical systems for the key automotive suppliers. Lear needs to ensure their products meet all the requirements the OEMs put upon them. Validation against requirements and tractability of validation against requirements is a key part of their deliverables to these requirements.”

To learn more about Mentor Graphics’ electronics CAE technology, read: “Mentor Graphics Updates PCB Simulation Software.”

To learn more about Lear Corporation’s CAE technology, read: “Driving by the Seat of Your Pants—FEA, Sensors Change Seat Shape as You Drive.”

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.