Consultants vs In-House Engineers

What type of engineer will help you unleash the potential of the FEA software and realizing the full value of simulation technology: a consultant or in-house engineer?

By MOHD ZULKHAIRI MUNSARIKH

As companies start to adopt simulation technology, they should consider what internal resources they have and which functions they may need to outsource to a professional engineering consultant to provide the best ROI. The return of investment  benefits for using engineering simulation service include a shorter time to market, reduced design time, less prototype iterations, testing and reduced cost in software, training and equipment.

Engineers are using two important techniques which are very critical to the  product development. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is used to determine a variety of design criterions including stress, deflections, fatigue life, vibration, thermal distribution, and electromagnetic field. Similarly, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is used in investigating flow, turbulence, pressure distributions, and other aspects of the interaction of liquids and gases with structures.

In order to get the most benefits from these powerful tools, a process is required to fully integrate simulation into product development, from the early concept phase until product deployment. With a standardized process, you can easily incorporate simulation at all levels of product development including components, sub-system and system levels. This approach not only ensure you are using simulation software as cost-effectively as possible, but research shows that engineering teams using simulation at all levels are more likely to meet internal targets for quality and revenue (Aberdeen Group, 2010)

 

As today’s highly engineered products become more complex, many companies lack the resources and expertise in-house to solve all the design engineering problems that may arise. Some of the challenges are limited resources, a lack of tolerance for design flaws, and the growing complexity of operating environments. Many organisations find that their in-house engineering team is lacking the needed expertise to fully leverage their simulation software. However, hiring new engineering staff brings a significant expense, involving personnel costs well beyond salary, not to mention the costs of software licensing fees for each engineer.

Although advanced graphical user interfaces has made the software easier to use, new users still must take time to learn new capabilities when they’re first implementing simulation tools. Later, with simulation technology changing so quickly, companies may find it difficult to keep up with the latest advancements made after they implemented their software.

 

Understanding the many costs and benefits of engineering simulation is key to making management decisions about technology implementation and maintenance to best meet a company’s needs. For companies lacking time, resources, or in-house capabilities, outsourcing to an external engineering consultant is often the best option for engineering simulation projects, particularly when meeting tight product development deadlines.

Hiring an engineering consulting firm with a full range of support services enables companies to fully leverage simulation techniques in a comprehensive, integrated approach to achieve real business value. As a result, these companies realize quantifiable ROI benefits that include reduced design time, shorter time to market, fewer prototypes and testing cycles, reduced liability, higher quality products, and lower documentation costs.

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