How Ansys has found a home in the IIoT: Simulation for predictive analytics and maintenance
Ansys, an engineering software provider based in Pennsylvania, occupies an interesting position in the IoT space.
Unlike many who wish to jump on the first bandwagon they find, the company insists it is not a conventional player – “we do not produce any ‘things’, however our mission has always been to help engineers develop the best possible things and IoT has not changed that”, Ansys notes – although they have identified seven applications which help to create robust IoT and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) products, and simulates them for real-world use.
Sudhir Sharma is director of high tech industry strategy and marketing at Ansys. He explains how engineering teams use Ansys’ chip package system, as well as its power management and embedded software development technologies. “A lot is riding on IoT systems to work right – for example, autonomous vehicles are relying on sensors, communication systems, and embedded software to function correctly in every instance,” he says.
With one eye on Samsung’s recent travails – the Korean giant has permanently ceased production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones – Sharma adds: “We expect our phones to work for hours and not overheat. As you may have noticed, the cost of product failure in the field is huge in terms of reputation, product recall, market share loss or possible loss of human life. It is evident that accurate simulation is critical in developing products that will thrive in the real world.”
Part of Ansys’ simulation is by creating a ‘digital twin’ – a 3D digital model of a physical system – which can provide greater opportunities for data analytics as well as predictive maintenance. Earlier this year, this capability was demonstrated when, with the help of Flowserve, Ansys was able to power a digital twin of an industrial pump.
“The digital twin is rapidly being recognised as the value creator within the enterprise,” says Sharma. “Industry leaders like GE, PTC and others have developed platforms that leverage real-time simulation to perform predictive analytics – catching failures before they happen, enabling assets to perform at peak efficiency, and ensuring zero unplanned downtime.”
The IIoT is certainly on the rise; a recent piece of research from Honeywell Process Solutions found that many in the manufacturing industry are pushing ahead with budget for data analytics, sometimes as the expense of other areas. Security, naturally, remains a key area for change; the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) released a paper to shed light on security-related IIoT architectures and technologies.
Sharma emphasises its importance by noting that many companies are focused on just this area of the space. “Security [and] privacy as well as robust product design are essential to IoT/IIoT,” he says. “Without adequate data security and privacy, IoT [and] IIoT systems will not be widely adopted.
“Ansys is helping designers develop robust products for IoT. We’re helping our customers address five critical challenges that include size, weight and power/cooling, connectivity and sensing, reliability and safety, integration and durability,” Sharma adds. “Our physics-based simulation solution is helping design autonomous vehicles, implanted electronics, and even virtual reality systems.”
Sharma is speaking in the Connected Industry track at IoT Tech Expo North America, and his message for attendees is clear. “IoT [and] IIoT will deliver trillions of dollars in global economic value over the coming years and decades,” he says. “The proliferation of smart physical assets and the resulting economic value assumes that these physical assets are durable and the collected data is actionable and reliable.
“Companies that are either upgrading their existing assets or designing new products need to utilise engineering simulation to deliver on the promise of IoT/IIoT,” Sharma adds. “Innovative ideas, such as digital twin, will help companies maximise the field performance of their assets and speed innovative new products to market.”
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