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View from India: Engineering redefined for the future

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The world we live in is built on engineering - a truism expressed at the 2019 Altair Technology Conference and an insight into the converging technologies that are reshaping many manufacturing processes.

Agreeably, our world has always been built by engineering. Now, a futuristic spin on the world we live in has an added dimension. It’s a world where everything and everyone is interconnected. This is where technology has a role to play in every sphere. This was not the case until relatively recently. Sensors, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are among the technologies integrated into the engineering scheme of things. Aspects like customer feedback and personalisation which are generally taken for granted have become central to the process. 

“When devices and people connect, it calls for impactful user experience. Therefore the complexity of design and engineering increases with features like real-time simulation to offer outcome-based experiences,” said Michael Dambach, senior vice president, HyperWorks, Altair, speaking at the conference.  

The company has a team of designers, engineers, analysts and computer-aided design (CAD) experts who mesh together the user interface (UI) optimisation, something the company follows across all its centres. In fact, a confluence of global trends has shaped the Altair story. “The most visible trend is that a paradigm shift is happening in all industries, due to which everything is becoming smart and connected,” explained James Scapa, founder and CEO, Altair. 

When products and services are smart and connected, the manufacturing process requires leading-edge tools that offer competence and ready-to-market facilities. Simulation and machine learning needs to be leveraged throughout the product lifecycle. “Machine learning in engineering is important for maximising competitiveness and improving product design. When machine learning is applied to create the digital twin of a factory or product it will improve the hardware quality and software in terms of open source,” reasoned Dr Shidan Murphy, director, Altair. This will lead to high-performance computing and a need for storing many processes in the cloud.

The entire manufacturing ecosystem is being scaled up. Developers are increasingly relying on electronic design automation (EDA) to reduce manufacturing errors and decrease the various steps involved in the design cycle. Being automated, it improves efficiency. For CAD software, electronic design automation finds applications in diverse fields including machinery, electronics and aerospace. “Our company has invested in EDA firms. Besides that, our approach is open architecture solutions as many of our customers prefer plug-and-play tools,” added Scapa. 

It’s understandable then that manufacturers have to raise the bar of their product quality. This has led to a sharper focus on aesthetics in product design and an enhanced user experience. 

Another significant growth driver is the convergence of simulation and data intelligence and data science. Simulation helps in creating near-perfect prototypes. Data intelligence and data science are streamlined from massive datasets. This insight helps analyse customer preferences, which in turn is used to customise products for business outcomes. Of course, all this requires AI and algorithms. “The company has a broad portfolio of offerings that include design, modeling, visualisation, physics simulation, HPC and Internet of Things (IoT),” highlighted Scapa. 

All these in varying degrees result in flexible software delivery models. Our focus is on machine learning algorithms and advanced analytics throughout the product cycle.

Today, product designs are driven by 3D simulation and printing. Other inputs include CAD modeling along with geometric inputs. The latter is an emerging arena which has ample scope for growth as it offers precision, optimisation and keeps costs low. Seen from the design point of view, a geometric interface helps improve the quality of design and visualisation.   

Altair is a global technology company that provides software and cloud solutions in product design and development, high-performance computing (HPC) and data intelligence. The global revenue from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is around 32 per cent.

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