When Does it Make Sense to Bring Simulation In-House?

September 30, 2020 Chris Smith

When deciding whether to bring simulation in-house or to hire a consulting partner to solve your simulation problems, there is rarely an easy answer. This article provides clarity into the benefits of bringing simulation software capability in-house vs. hiring a consulting firm to do the work for you.

To start, the decision between in-house vs. hiring out, is not binary. Often, the most economical and best engineering option is to utilize a blend of the two. An example of this would be to hire out your first project for consulting and use this simulation as a template for your continued use of the software going forward. Through this project, your engineers will learn how to convert a real-world problem into a simulation that provides insight into your design and allows them to continue solving future problems in-house. Here, we cover three options and highlight when each approach is appropriate. The options include: doing the work in-house, hiring an outside consultant, and a blend of both.

When should you hire outside consultants?

If you have a project and you do not have the resources to purchase simulation software and/or the time to hire and train your own simulation engineer, this is the option for you. A consultant like Rand Simulation works with your engineering team to determine what the best and most economical route is for your specific problem. Throughout the simulation process, we hold meetings with your engineering team ensuring there is collaboration throughout the project timeline, making sure the simulation gives you the results you need to make the necessary verifications or changes to move forward on your project deadlines.

When should you blend the hiring of consultants and bringing software in-house?

If you have an individual on the team who has used simulation in the past or is familiar with how simulation works and wants to begin to incorporate it into their design processes, this is the option for you. By hiring out the first project it can provide experience for your engineer on how to take a real-world process and convert it into a simulation that will provide valuable insight into your design. When you hire a consulting partner like Rand Simulation to consult on your first project, we become an extension of your team. In doing so, we bring your engineer into the simulation process, explaining why we made decisions on geometry changes, mesh sizes, boundary conditions, and simulation methods to help give them insight and establish their intuition on how to perform these practices themselves. As a result, your first project is finished quickly using our simulation experts while your engineer learns from experts how to perform quality simulations that can be easily utilized for design decisions. This will help you avoid the garbage in, garbage out issue by giving your engineers an understanding of what it takes to generate useful data using simulation.

When should you bring simulation software in-house?

The best time to bring simulation software in-house is when you have a simulation engineer on the team or you have an engineer who is familiar with simulation and is willing to go through training to learn how to use the software. When you have a simulation engineer already on the team, bringing simulation in-house is easy as they are familiar with the software and require minimal training. When you do not have a dedicated simulation engineer, an engineer on the team is going to require training. This engineer has two courses of action for training. It can be done through personalized training sessions or by utilizing predefined training documents available when you buy an Ansys Learning Hub (ALH) license. The personalized training sessions offer your engineers tailored learning sessions to help them with the design problems they need to solve. It allows them to apply techniques to transform real world problems into solvable simulations in a feasible timeframe. It also allows your engineers to get up to speed with how to use simulation software and teaches them best practices to produce reliable results to use in design processes.

If they decide they want to utilize the Ansys Learning Hub, they will not have the tailored training sessions and custom material, but they will have access to hundreds of online documents and tutorials over a wide range of problems. These documents can help teach your engineers the basics of how to run the tool and the types of scenarios in which simulation can be used; they will just need to take the last step in applying it to the problems you need solved.

If you do not have a dedicated simulation engineer or an engineer willing to go through the training that they need, it is highly recommended that you do not bring simulation in-house immediately. Instead, focus on sending the work out to consultants or opting for a blended approach, as discussed above. Once your engineer has the time or you have the resources to hire, then the decision to bring the software in-house can be re-evaluated.

If you bring simulation in-house without a dedicated simulation engineer or an engineer who will not go through training, you run the risk of falling into a trap of garbage in, garbage out. This is because when someone is running a simulation tool and is unsure of the knobs that can be turned and how they influence the results, there is a high risk that simulation data will be unreliable. This is part of the reason why the blend between hiring consultants and bringing the software in-house can be so useful, as it optimizes the time to produce results for your first projects, while steadily bringing your engineers up to speed on how to leverage simulation during the design process.

Lastly, if you are still unsure whether you need to bring simulation in-house, hire it out, or utilize a blend of the two, Rand Simulation personnel are here to answer your questions and help you make the best decision from both an engineering and business perspective.

About the Author

Chris Smith

Chris is a RandSim CFD Specialist and works with leveraging CFD software to provide insight into design solutions and optimization for fluid and heat transfer applications.

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