Structural FEA in the Automotive Industry
The overarching objective of all automotive manufacturers is to move predictive simulation to the early design stage. The benefits of influencing design earlier, reducing the number of design cycles and eliminating much physical testing are well understood. Target project timescales from concept to prototype definition are very aggressive within the industry, with timescales of the order of 18 months being discussed. Considering the trend to extend the range of vehicles to give a broad product portfolio, this is an extraordinary achievement.
Vehicle crash analysis is probably the most well known simulation in automotive design, and indeed is seen as the role model for other disciplines within the industry. Here, the emphasis is now on prediction of vehicle response to validate design strategies and permit change well before available physical test articles. Most other simulation processes are also now being used earlier in the design loop. However, current simulation technology limitations imply a traditional forensic and redesign process in some areas. In such cases, advanced research and collaboration with academic institutions is the way forward.