Case Study: Amsted Automotive

Leading automotive supplier further boosting CAE efficiency while gaining faster, more informed design decisions.

Headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, Amsted Automotive produces over 100 million components and assemblies annually. The company’s products range from piston pins to advanced metal forming and complex assemblies for vehicle drivetrains, powder metallurgy drivetrain components and soft magnetic composites, torque management solutions for electric drivelines and propulsion systems, and large diameter cold formed products.

Manufacturers throughout passenger car and light truck; light, medium, and heavy commercial vehicles; electric mobility; industrial; agriculture; and mining industries have come to rely on Amsted Automotive for quality, innovation, and delivery.

A Traditional Process

Simulation plays an increasingly vital role in today’s condensed and accelerated development cycles. Detailed feedback from analysis allows design and engineering teams to meet quality, reliability, and to-market targets while advancing innovation. Key to this process are detailed CAE analysis reports that are critical to providing design insight during product review cycles and validating the integrity of new or modified designs.  Yet while today’s new product development processes are driven by robust, 3D digital applications, there remains one notable exception. For many, CAE analysis post-processing and reporting remain largely a manual, 2D process.

PowerPoint decks are the traditional format for generating and sharing simulation results. And for decades, Amsted Automotive was no different. The company’s Senior CAE Manager, George Coppens explained that non-value-added steps related to this approach are extremely time-consuming and counterproductive.

“Once critical areas of interest within the product were determined, analysts were forced to capture and paste screen images of the results into PowerPoint slides, obtain values in the post-processor, create labels in PowerPoint, and repeat the process for hundreds of slides,” Coppens said. “To add to the problem, after the report was presented, our analysts would often receive requests to go back and clarify areas of interest by adding additional images. This not only pulled analysts away from other projects, but it created a significant delay in getting analysis findings back in the hands of designers and other stakeholders.”

A Better Way

Amsted Automotive set out to improve the process for sharing CAE insights. Objectives included improvements to time, cost, and the ability to interrogate reports more thoroughly.  Other areas where the company sought to make gains included:

  • Better utilization of CAE resources.
  • Increase the capacity and availability of analysts for additional simulation studies.
  • Reduce the time to create reports, as well as their length, and improve consistency in structure and content.
  • Eliminate the prospect of human error through automation and never miss identifying a high-stress area.

Increasing the detail and value of the information contained in the reports would not only allow for better, faster design decisions, but the need for follow-up requests for additional detail would be practically eliminated.

VCollab

In 2021, Amsted Automotive discovered Visual Collaboration Technologies, Inc. (VCollab) which would soon revolutionize the way CAE reports were shared. VCollab software leverages the CAE model itself, allowing design teams to explore simulation results while making comparisons and annotations. A quick survey of the market confirmed that VCollab was the only solution that could create reports with interactive content.

With VCollab, Amsted Automotive discovered that:

  • Analysts can create, update, and share results in minutes.
  • CAE managers, analysts, designers, release engineers, and other stakeholders can collaborate freely and in real-time, allowing them to interactively review key 3D simulation results and failures.
  • Non-value-added manual tasks, bottlenecks, and delays are reduced or eliminated.

 

VCollab Rapid Results Review allows for immediate comparison of design alternatives.

VCollab Co-Founder and CEO, Prasad Mandava explained that such benefits allow designers, CAE managers, analysts, release engineers, and others to visually collaborate more freely and utilize the most accurate and complete interactive information to make key product design decisions efficiently.

“Non-interactive static 2D documents such as PowerPoint slides, images, or videos are decades-old and simply not designed to operate in today’s 3D digital environment,” he said. “These platforms limit the opportunity to fully realize the benefits of CAE simulations and maximize investments in related resources and technologies. The consequences are extensive administrative work by high-value CAE analysts, and a lack of insight to guide designers and critical decision-making.”

Implementation

Embracing change can be challenging. To help with the transition, product engineers were introduced to VCollab during the evaluation stage. Engaging this group early in the process helped to answer questions and solidify their buy-in.

“Our initial goal was to provide users with a template for automating many of the manual steps in creating reports,” Coppens said. “The implementation began by leveraging VCollab’s off-the-shelf intelligent automation and developing Python-based automation templates. Shortly after, our analytical engineers began using VCollab to generate reports as needed. Today, the entire engineering analysis team uses VCollab.”

Coppens reports that VCollab is meeting or exceeding expectations as the company has registered a significant reduction in the time and effort needed to create CAE reports. Prior to VCollab, days were required to report the results of a CAE study; interpretation of these results can now begin in hours.

With VCollab, multi-domain results can be displayed on a single slide and
shared interactively in a standard web browser.

In the months ahead, the company plans to leverage VCollab technology even further with an increased use of Python scripts to build a library of automation templates that add information to reports and leverage the software’s automatic hotspot finding feature.

Armed with this feedback, Amsted Automotive’s design and engineering teams can continue to be responsive to the lofty expectations of its growing customer base.

Rapid Results Review

In addition to automated digital report generation, Amsted Automotive is further boosting CAE process efficiencies by incorporating VCollab’s “Rapid Results Review”.

This capability provides the ability to: quickly extract and visualize analysis results from a broad range of multi-physics solvers, skipping the time-consuming manual post-processing process as we know it today, and help companies make faster and more informed design decisions.

Rapid Results Review allows engineers to go directly from analysis to design decision through:

  • Smart automation and efficient multi-format graphic displays (Digital Slides) to be used for design review meetings.
  • Allowing ease of sharing graphical results data with the engineering teams.

Because of the vast process efficiency it brings, VCollab’s Rapid Results Review is being adapted by a growing number of OEMs to cut development time.