Nelson Dias, Asia Pacific senior vice president for Altair Engineering [Altair], talks to Computerworld Malaysia on the business benefits of using simulation software, which he said is poised for exponential growth in Malaysia and the ASEAN region.
Founded in 1985, product and engineering design solutions firm Altair is headquartered in Troy Michigan USA with regional operations throughout 22 countries and a staff of more than 2,000 innovative employees. The Malaysia subsidiary is an MSC [Multimedia Supercorridor] Malaysia status firm.
Photo - Nelson Dias, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific, Altair Engineering
Could you start with some insights on the adoption of simulation software adoption in Malaysia and the ASEAN region, including the size of the market in Malaysia?
Simulation software, or more specifically engineering simulation software, is a term used interchangeably with Computer Aided Engineering (CAE).
The Malaysia economy is at the most crucial point of entering into an exponential growth phase led by value added product development and services. It is a growing, thriving economy, with a forward looking government policy of making the country a hub for value- added high-end engineering services, a move away from 'Manufactured in Malaysia' to 'Designed in Malaysia' - and a continuous emphasis on indigenization are all fuelling adoption of engineering simulation software.
Also, the likely competition arising out of ASEAN Economic Community coming into existence soon, will only further propel use of tools and technologies, and engineering simulation will certainly be amongst the key technologies.
Engineering simulation today is being used by Automotive OEMs, their Tier-1 and 2 suppliers, Consumer Goods Manufacturers, Electronics Manufacturers, amongst the leading users of engineering simulation software in the region. Overall in ASEAN, the users also include aerospace, defence, marine and many more such verticals.
Today, Engineering simulation / CAE is being used by a very wide range of industry verticals. It is a continuously evolving market since it is being applied in more and more areas of engineering across more and more enterprises. Across ASEAN, a fair estimate would be approximately US$20 million.
What is Altair's position in the sector?
Altair has been at the forefront of the CAE/engineering simulation market in the ASEAN region, providing both - products and services - to a variety of organisations spread across verticals. Our customers range from - automotive, consumer packaged goods, electronics, architecture, government research, marine, defence, aerospace and education, to name a few. Altair with its unique partner program that brings together related technologies on a single platform and a patented licensing scheme offers the best value for our customers' investments.
Altair has also introduced a range of CAE products which can specifically serve the SME segment. Altair's SolidThinking, because of its ease of use, allow SMEs to introduce and adopt CAE in their design process. It is a useful tool for designers across small and large industries to undertake simulation driven design giving creative freedom to try innovative designs, while ensuring that it withstands the operational conditions and manufacturability. It provides an effective and efficient product design environment compared to the traditional approach of multiple validations and iterations to arrive at the right design.
We focus on helping customers set up their Product engineering design & development infrastructure, Altair also provides the vital piece of High Performance Computing Solutions and Services to run engineering simulation. With software delivery options ranging from on-site to cloud, lease to bought out, specific use or unlimited use, and on-demand when required, Altair is uniquely placed to service our customers in the form that best meets their requirement.
What was the state of adoption five years ago and what kind of growth is Altair expecting in the near future?
While Singapore can be called an early adopter of the engineering simulation technologies, Malaysia and subsequently other ASEAN countries have taken rapid strides in the direction. Overall, the adoption of engineering simulation has witnessed an exponential growth and does not appear to let off any time soon. From a few years back when engineering simulation was being applied to only some areas of product development, or only in case of some products, it is more readily used today across industries and across the design process. CAE as a technology is increasingly democratized today than it was a few years ago.
Ease of technology usage, and a strong commitment from partners like Altair which also proactively invests in training local man-power, have all contributed to the adoption of engineering simulation. Altair has witnessed about 25% growth over the years, with even more aggressive growth numbers targeted for the future.
What type of business outcomes can businesses reasonably expect by leveraging on simulation solutions?
CAE solutions reduce product design and development cycle time drastically. It is no more just design validation and testing, as it used to be. Simulation now features very early in the design cycle, giving rise to the whole new idea of simulation driven concept/product design. Altair has been leading in this space through SolidThinking, which enables faster, lighter and smarter product designs, SolidThinking is now ready to add value to additive manufacturing - one of the most looked forward to disruptive technologies today.
It is based on the idea of designing through simulation where a near perfect product solution can be arrived at the very conceptual stage. It is like virtually putting the product through every kind of loads (structural, thermal, flow, electromagnetic, and so forth.) and testing it for operations under these various conditions (loads) even as you conceptualize it. It helps arrive at an optimised design which results in economy due to saving in material, allow use of alternative materials wherever possible, and all this while ensuring the safety standards.
How has simulation software delivered competitive advantages for businesses in Malaysia and ASEAN?
Engineering simulation software / solutions help reduce the overall "time-to-market", while also reducing product development costs, ensuring efficient and safe designs, and allowing the freedom to design and develop innovative products.
It opens up avenues for design indigenization in Malaysia, reducing reliance on overseas partners for product development. It offers more scope to create intellectual property within the country, and allows designs to emerge which are more relevant to local use.
Altair has partnered local organisations and in some cases have jointly worked on their product development initiatives which have resulted in our customers elevating their status to Tier-1 supplier for leading OEMs. These organisations are now also providing customized engineering product development across the region.
Could you go into more detail of some of the challenges during implementation and how you help?
The challenge is to address the risks associated with a continuously evolving product development paradigm. It is therefore key to understand clearly the challenges our customers encounter in their business and aligning our products, services and support - build a complete ecosystem - to overcome those challenges and risks.
Altair is unique in terms of being an engineering simulation product company having its own engineering consulting services through its Product Design (Altair PD) division. With domain expertise ranging across a wide number of verticals, Altair is best placed for enabling its customers adopt cutting edge technology combined with a services and support infrastructure to get the best -On-Investment (ROI) for their investment.
Altair has also been investing heavily in supporting initiatives in the education vertical with the idea of providing more readily trained manpower on CAE. Towards this Altair provides heavily subsidized software, and runs frequent student training programs across many technology universities in Malaysia. This is over and above the student competitions it sponsors and promotes to attract more young minds in the field of engineering design, a constant requirement of the industries which themselves want to take the technology leap towards design indigenization.
Finally, what's you view of the industry in Asia for 2015?
The top IT trends specifically from the engineering design and simulation perspective will be certainly around even more rapid adoption of technology across different verticals. With additive manufacturing increasingly getting integrated into business, working hand-in-hand with engineering simulation, it will allow businesses to explore more creative and innovative product designs. We will see an increasing experimentation with a variety of materials, especially composites, to make the products lighter and therefore more efficient and eco-friendly.
We will also witness a high degree of adoption of high performance computing (HPC) to run and manage the engineering simulation setups. We also envisage more organisations leasing the HPC infrastructure and the simulation technology rather than undertaking a capital investment. Altair has been closely monitoring the developments as they unfold and has lined up products, solutions and services to cater to the emerging trends and keep our customers in the forefront of their respective businesses.
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