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Development teams leverage more than just CAD data to drive workflows
Each time a satellite is propelled into orbit, it confirms the skill of engineers in the space industry where every success adds to the knowledge base of the design team members. MAYA Simulation Ltd. has played a key role for many such missions, providing engineering design and analysis services to characterize, simulate and test the vibration, shock, fatigue and heat-transfer behavior of orbital platforms across a wide range of end applications.
A typical space project comprises a conceptual design phase, preliminary design phase, critical design phase and test-readiness review. Across all these stages, design engineers, program managers, analysts, component suppliers and end users must share, compare and understand a wide range of data and analysis assumptions. Maya acknowledges that in the past they, like others, used the typical over-the-wall approach to information hand-offs. However, they continually look for better ways to not only share but efficiently re-use product and engineering data. A key benefit of leveraging that data is a better use of engineering time by eliminating rework and streamlining workflows. Maya turned to Siemens’ Teamcenter® for Simulation software to realize this benefit.
Spacecraft are rather like butterflies going through metamorphosis.On the ground, the highly engineered, densely packed units start out in a stowed configuration, confined inside a launch vehicle and subjected to intense mechanical forces during the initial flight stages.Once the protective payload shields have fallen away and orbit has been achieved, the spacecraft transform, unfolding their solar panels into a deployed configuration that subjects them to new and different thermo-elastic stresses and a whole host of heat-transfer issues.
Planning, simulating and testing the spacecraft’s behavior throughout this transformation involves tracking reams of design and analysis data. Maya engineers have found that Teamcenter for Simulation, lets them communicate far more than just CAD data on parts and assemblies. They use Teamcenter for Simulation’s unified data platform to share preprocessing model configurations, finite element analysis solutions and post-processing results among a wide range of users, saving time and effort.
Maya engineers first put Teamcenter’s simulation management capabilities to the test on a model of the HESSI satellite, a scientific spacecraft launched in 2002. Given that they knew the exact before-and-after details of the HESSI mission’s operational parameters, they realized it would make an excellent case study for gauging the software’s capabilities and to assess if the software would help eliminate some of the design and simulation process bottlenecks.
Remi Duquette, senior staff engineer at Maya, says, “Managing your data is just one aspect.We already manage product data and material data (for sharing). Now, Teamcenter for Simulation enables engineers and engineering managers to establish well-documented workflows and supply automation to many more functions in the conceptual, design and analysis steps.” He notes that team members have always wanted to share and re-use preprocessing information, analysis solution data and post-processing results, but needed a lightweight data structure to do so.
“Analysts can now spend time on reviewing results,” says Duquette, “doing real engineering of the products.” The lightweight data set is mapped or stored in a much smaller JT™ data format file, and contains just what is needed for the task at hand, and no more.
Maya engineers were also looking for a faster and more consistent way to build the right analysis model with the right content. A key aspect of Teamcenter’s solution to this challenge is tagging, which has proven to be a huge time-saver for Maya analysts. Duquette explains, “We use a CAE marking tool to tag information as a layer on top of the product structure, and manage the data that analysts will require.” For example, the thermal analysis of HESSI’s in-orbit configuration was very sensitive to the properties of a gold surface coating, while the same information was not as relevant for a launch vibration study, so that data could be tagged on or off.
As another example, the connections between parts, such as bolts or hinges, are generally edited to be fixed connections for a stress analysis. Typically the analyst would make these changes, but with Teamcenter for Simulation, a design engineer can quickly tag and remove that information as a first step in the workflow before making the file available to an analyst. The software also allows users to create rules for meshing, dictating which components should be meshed and how, and applying these rules when the data is imported into third-party analysis software.
Details can also be turned back on for another analyst whose task needs that information, or conversely the same set of data can be examined under a different set of boundary conditions, all through an automated setup. Users can even do a search on just the components that are relevant to, say, a durability analysis. Duquette points out that anyone in the workflow can set a choice of rules to filter or re-use model data, and apply such attributes as material data by easily copying and pasting from an Excel spreadsheet.
Teamcenter for Simulation now allows many more people in the project workflow to define subassemblies and assemblies for analysis across multiple vendors, creating more opportunities for design improvement. For example, mass budget is a key constraint in the design of satellite systems. Using Teamcenter for Simulation, vendors can share simulation results with other team members so that decisions on selection of a particular design can be based on the latest performance information and the impact on overall system mass is immediately evident.
Duquette works with a distributed team for his design projects, and finds that the engineering team is very responsive to this approach. It gives program management direct visibility into the project workflow, keeps product development in “always current” mode, and increases part and system reuse to save time and free up resources for other opportunities. “Our HESSI case study shows that you can drive any third-party software package,” notes Duquette, “and the unified data platform means that simulation can either lead or validate design.”
Thanks to Teamcenter for Simulation software, Maya engineers now get the right data for the right problem at the right time.
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MAYA Simulation Ltd. supplies advanced analysis software and consulting services in mechanical engineering.
"We already manage product data and material data (for sharing). Now, Teamcenter for Simulation enables engineers and engineering managers to establish well-documented workflows and supply automation to many more functions in the conceptual, design and analysis steps."
Senior Staff Engineer
MAYA Simulation Ltd.
"Analysts can now spend time on reviewing results, doing real engineering of the products. The unified data platform means that simulation can either lead or validate design."
Senior Staff Engineer
MAYA Simulation Ltd.
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