CFD simulation software satisfaction low among engineers

| Information and Communication Technology

Envenio has published the results of its survey into levels of satisfaction and important purchasing factors for users of Computational Fluid Dynamics software.

Just 14% of engineers are completely happy with their Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) setup, according to a voluntary online survey carried out by simulation software developer, Envenio.

The sentiment was shared by all company sizes represented, with spending too much time meshing, paying too much for a licence and requiring access to more computing power as their biggest limitations. Aside from issues relating to processing power and cost, respondents from larger companies also report personnel training time as a “considerable concern”.

The survey, which set out to identify key trends in purchasing decisions along with characteristics of CFD users, also uncovered insights into the types and size of simulations being carried out, the state of cloud migration in CFD, and how and where content is gathered and shared by engineers.

Overwhelmingly, the results appear to highlight an important need for more reasonably-priced simulation power, and a need for vendors to create CFD software that is more intuitive and easy-to-operate, in addition to creating training options that fall within budgets and project timescales.

When it comes to CFD purchasing decisions, respondents from companies of all sizes report cost, models, speed and accuracy as leading factors, albeit in a different order of priority. Freelancers showed the widest range of requirements, although 87% of them report cost as a key purchasing factor. While cost is still an important factor, large companies appear to focus more on simulation speed, accuracy and available physics.

When switching products or deciding upon a new code, engineers appear to face a steep learning curve most of the time, and the quality of the user interface along with technical support also featured as being fairly important to the purchasing process. Promotions and special offers have little effect, and it seems quality of customer service was also not a prime consideration.

Typical CFD problem size appears to correlate with company size, with limitations imposed by CPU power, RAM and sharing with colleagues all driving engineers to keep the size and complexity of problems as low as possible. Companies with up to 50 employees most typically face a problem size up to 5M, while companies with over 51 employees most commonly handle problem sizes of 5-20M. The largest companies in the survey handle the largest problem sizes.

50.4% of respondents run primarily transient simulations, while 49.5% operate in steady state.

“There is a huge opportunity in the industry for vendors to enable those constrained to steady state, to do transient runs” explains Scott Walton, VP at Envenio.

“For example, in the pump industry, many engineers are only able to simulate in steady state, whereas the valuable data is in the transient modelling”.

“We know transient is expensive. The opportunity is not just enabling steady state to move to transient, but to enable transient to be much faster” he adds.

Just 22% of respondents from 28 countries (the majority based in North America and Europe) reported using cloud computing resources for CFD simulation, leaving a potential 78% who could make the migration.

“The industry must work hard to dispel the misconceptions about working in the cloud, and highlight its benefit as a real method to overcome many of the simulation barriers highlighted in this survey” explains Ian McLeod, CEO of Envenio.

“Many cloud-hosted services have a greater level of infrastructure than their traditional counterparts, preparing for and investing in the prevention of technical problems. Flexible pricing and regular infrastructure updates are also additional benefits, with their on-demand nature allowing CFD computing resources to be part of operational rather than capital expenditure budgets” he adds.

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