<![CDATA[infomec.cc - Blog]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 16:55:52 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Emergence of Specific Market CFD Software]]>Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:42:27 GMThttp://infomec.cc/blog/emergence-of-specific-market-cfd-software​The old saying, “change is the only constant in life”, certainly rings true in the CFD software landscape. We continue to witness sustained change in the CFD marketplace as more, and perhaps better, software choices appear on the market for CFD users. Among these choices are multiphysics simulation packages that include other types of analysis tools (e.g., electromagnetic, structures, etc.) in addition to CFD. Other examples are integrated CFD solutions, which package CFD solvers with other complementary tools such as CAD modeling, grid generation, visualization, design optimization, etc.  These examples are  receiving deserved lot of attention in forums and publications. Meanwhile, there is another trend, which is getting less attention, that will have a significant impact on CFD use: the development and deployment of market-specific CFD software. Market-specific CFD simulation tools are software packages which are developed or modified for a specific market such as HVAC, data centers, turbomachinary, automotive powertrain, etc. These packages generally include tailor-made capabilities (e.g., Graphical User Interface, boundary conditions, numerical schemes, or object libraries) for use for a specific market.
A look at the past may help us to understand the emergence of these market-specific CFD tools, and how they may affect the CFD market. A few decades ago, the CFD landscape was drastically different, with most organizations developing and maintaining their own specific CFD codes. Such an ‘in-house’ CFD code was generally part of a package made of up several disjointed programs, gathered from different sources without any comprehensive documentation or training. Each of these codes had certain “special" capabilities and was developed for a particular application or flow regime. Due to this lack of generality, the users of these packages had to possess extensive knowledge of numerics as well as fluid dynamics to further develop or modify the code for their own use. 
General-purpose CFD
The development and availability of commercial and open-source general-purpose CFD software drastically altered the CFD simulation landscape.  General-purpose CFD software can respond to a wide range of applications and flow regimes, each one with distinct requirements.  Moreover, many commercial general-purpose CFD packages include additional capabilities such as enhanced Graphical User Interface (GUI), CAD embedding or geometry generation, automatic grid generation, sophisticated post-processing, etc. These general-purpose codes have become attractive because organizations can choose to use a tool that is developed and maintained externally, resulting in the elimination of a requirement for internal expertise for code upkeep. Also, organizations can amass a pool of CFD analysts trained on a single CFD software package, and use one CFD tool for most, if not all, of their applications. Hence, choosing a general-purpose CFD software can result in cost reductions whilst increasing flexibility and availability.  The availability of general-purpose software has had a positive impact on the range of CFD applications available, as well as the number of new CFD users.
Obviously, many organizations continue to use specific-application software, and there are many reasons for this decision.  One reason may be the long term investment that the organization has already made in the development of software, and the availability of existing expertise internally. Another reason may be the unavailability of the commercial software source code for scrutiny or further development. The cost of commercial software and the steep learning curve for open- source software may be other reasons why some organizations would choose to hang on to their in-house codes.
Market-Specific Software
In the past decade, many vendors have begun to offer versions of their general-purpose software tailored for specific markets. The idea behind market-specific packages is that they provide a simultaneous increase in capability and decrease in complexity. For a field with enough demand and critical mass of users, a special edition of the software that responds to the CFD needs of that field may be more practical than the general purpose version. A specific market may require additional capabilities such as special boundary conditions, solution schemes, CAD capabilities, and object libraries for which there is no demand in other markets. Conversely, there may be options within the general purpose version that complicate the software but may never be used in that specific market. For example, a user simulating the flow in a data center may never use special capabilities such as large eddy simulation or multiphase flow modeling.
Specific-market software packages are not simply a more sophisticated version of earlier specific-application codes, and there are valid reasons for their emergence and proliferation. It may be argued that codes developed in the earlier days of CFD were often developed for specific flow regimes or for specific applications due to a lack of know how or where the science of CFD stood at the time. In contrast, specific-market software has a general-purpose solver at its core, and is capable of handling a wide spectrum of applications. However, certain capabilities are deliberately included or excluded to make the software easier to use, and easier for the vendor to market to these users. For example, it is possible to simulate airflow in an HVAC application using a general purpose code, but the task may be time consuming and labor intensive since the user has to create CAD objects from scratch or develop certain boundary conditions using user defined functions. On the other hand, an HVAC-specific CFD software package may provide only one turbulence model which works best for these types of applications.  
Consequences of Market Specificity
The upward trend in the number of specific-market packages, and the increase in number of markets targeted for specific packages, can have a significant impact on the way CFD is used, and the type of users employing these packages. The availability of general-purpose software has resulted in additional CFD users. Furthermore, cloud computing is providing more CFD access to individuals and organizations with limited computing resources. On the other hand, the enhancements and simplification provided by market-specific software can translate to an increase in the variety of the new users. For instance, there may be new users who would become interested in CFD because there is CFD software that caters specifically to their needs,  is focused on their type of problems, and is easy to use.  Then again, simple to use software would attract users with a limited knowledge of numerics, fluid dynamics, or even engineering. It is important to take stock of the possible consequences of introducing these new users to CFD.
The use of CFD without a proper knowledge of issues and challenges inherent in CFD simulation can adversely impact its use in design and analysis. Lack of understanding of CFD issues such as orders of accuracy,error sources, model simplification, and meshing requirements can result in reworks and delays in product development. Lack or limited knowledge of fluid dynamics fundamentals can be equally as harmful, as wrong or improper results may go undetected.
Making the Impact Positive
Software vendors cannot be faulted for making their software easier to use, or for reaching for more and new users. However, they can help mitigate the adverse effects of substandard simulation by providing practical fluid dynamics, CFD, and heat transfer training in addition to their software training. Practical and fundamental training in addition to software-specific training will help vendors reap the benefits of their investment, and keep these new markets and users. Unfortunately, not all software vendors have the resources to get involved in this type of training.  In contrast, colleges and universities do see a role in providing this fundamental education, and offer basic  fluid dynamics and CFD courses. However, a great deal of new users may already be in the workforce and would not perceive lengthy college courses as a practical option.
CFD related engineering societies and technical associations are ideally suited to fill the training gap between software vendors and institutions of higher education. These organizations must emphasize and provide fundamental yet practical training for these new users. This training should also be general enough to encompass various forms of CFD (e.g., Navier-Stokes, Lattice Boltzmann, finite volume, finite elements, meshless, etc.). It is also important that this training includes “best practices” in CFD simulation. Engineering societies and technical associations, with help from volunteering CFD professionals, must continue to develop best practice, and publicize this through their various channels.
The CFD marketplace is certainly evolving. With an increase in the number of vendors and software, in addition to the advent of cloud computing, one can expect further and even faster growth in the CFD market. However, poor quality simulation by users with limited knowledge of fluid dynamics and CFD would eventually halt this progress. Engineering societies and technical associations can play a vital role in training new CFD users, andensuring that CFD simulation is used in the correct way, and for the right reasons, to continue the growth of CFD.]]>