Small and mid-sized manufacturers are under constant economic pressure to deliver high-quality, low-cost products. Many large manufacturers have embraced simulation-driven design to achieve a higher degree of competitive advantage. Simulation-driven design supplements physical product prototyping with less expensive computer simulations, reducing the time to market while improving quality and cutting costs. Smaller manufacturers are largely missing out on this advantage because they cannot afford to leverage such solutions.
Modern manufacturing simulation applications (or “apps”) integrate essential manufacturing domain knowledge, sophisticated simulation software and powerful computational resources inside a web-based work flow. For example, by clicking a few buttons, the strength of a virtual weld can be predicted through simulations. Similar prototype manufacturing apps already have been developed for companies in fields such as consumer goods, advanced materials and the automotive industry.
Based upon these concepts, the Ohio Supercomputer Center has developed unique technology capabilities and, together with its client partners, a product strategy to help reduce the barriers for entry into this largely untapped market. With the financial support of Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission and Development Services Agency, OSC and its partners have launched AweSim, a program to develop cloud-based manufacturing simulation applications sold through an e-commerce marketplace.
The team chose the name AweSim to reflect the sense of awe that often accompanies the “Aha! moment” when a student, professor, researcher, inventor or engineer unlocks the key to a challenging question or situation and to acknowledge that modeling and simulation are the means by which those insights can most readily be achieved.
The team has an extensive and impressive track record leading up to the development of the AweSim platform. OSC, a member of the Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), has been at the forefront of the national effort to help industry gain easy and affordable access to advanced modeling and simulation technologies, starting with the 2004 launch of its innovative and widely regarded industrial outreach initiative, Blue Collar Computing.
OSC and client partners Procter & Gamble, Nimbis Services, TotalSim, AltaSim Technologies and Kinetic Vision were heavily involved in the recently concluded National Digital Engineering & Manufacturing Consortium (NDEMC), a pilot program funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Led by the Council on Competitiveness, the project provided Midwestern small and mid-sized manufacturers with access to advanced modeling and simulation resources. Multinational semiconductor chip maker Intel is helping the AweSim team coordinate workforce education components.
To date, collaborating AweSim partner organizations have committed to a $3.4 million cost-share, and in June Ohio’s Department of Development Services invested an additional $3 million in AweSim through its Third Frontier Commission Innovation Platform Program.
The objectives of the AweSim program include:
Create a unified, innovative and commercially ready platform consisting of a web-based AweSim App Store, supporting infrastructure and appropriate app development tools.
Initially populate the AweSim App
Store with at least six apps of broad marketability, such as a virtual wind tunnel and a crush test, and lay the infrastructure for rapid development and deployment of future apps.
Actively pilot and market the developed apps to small and mid-sized manufacturers.
Create a broad-based training program to equip both novice employees and traditionally trained manufacturing specialists with the enhanced skills needed to master the capabilities and applications of this powerful technology.
The AweSim team anticipates numerous economic benefits for companies that participate in the program, including these outcomes:
- Developers creating new manufacturing apps will make them available to end-users through Nimbis’ e-commerce App Store, which in turn accesses OSC’s high performance computing infra- structure to run the apps, generating revenue to Nimbis, app developers and OSC.
App developers are expected to further substantial financial investments toward the creation of new apps in future years.
OSC’s improved tools (App Kit, App Runtime) will provide engineering service providers, software companies and cloud providers the ability to rapidly and efficiently develop apps for new markets.
Small and mid-sized manufacturers will benefit from a low-cost, accessible technical capability; this will help ensure their global competitiveness by supporting faster and cheaper creation of improved products. The apps are estimated to reduce time to market by 50 percent and decrease product development cost by 30 percent.
Workers will receive training on these sophisticated new digital tools, ensuring full use of the new capabilities and significantly enhancing their employment opportunities.
Simulation-driven design offered through the AweSim program offers manufacturers a sustainable competitive advantage via a significantly lower cost than alternative technologies, productivity tools and built-up capabilities. Together these differentiate the platform from potential competitors and benefit the value chain of suppliers, large manufacturers and end users.
Alan Chalker, Ph.D.
OSC Director of Technology Solutions
Director of AweSim
(614) 247-8672 • email@example.com