Detroit—Amid the hubbub created by over 1,100 exhibitors and thousands of products at the 2001 Society of Automotive Engineers show at Cobo Hall March 5–9, one note sounded louder than the rest: prototype testing and analysis.
There were new developments on display in the areas of fuel cells, sound systems, materials, and structural and drivetrain components...but the buzz was about speeding the validation of prototype models in order to bring new vehicles to market faster. In this respect, Mazda's recently announced Digital Innovation Program, designed to develop technologies and processes that will enable the company to bring new vehicles to market in less than 12 months, was the 500-pound gorilla that none of the automakers or their suppliers could ignore.
The MTS Virtual Test Laboratory is a software system that allows physical test data to be modeled on virtual prototypes.
Attracting the most attention in this regard was the SmartSim Community, an alliance between MTS Systems Corp. (Eden Prairie, MN), Mechanical Dynamics Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), and nCode International (Southfield, MI) to develop new tools and processes for integrating physical and virtual prototype testing.
"Customers feel they can no longer accept the time and cost of building numerous prototypes," said MTS CEO Chip Emery. "That's why testing and prototyping systems that employ both virtual and physical elements are attracting interest."
Initially, four products will bear the SmartSim imprimatur, meaning that they incorporate, or can be seamlessly integrated with, the relevant analysis and testing products of the other alliance members. Chief among these is the MTS Virtual Test Laboratory (VTL), a software system incorporating ADAMS® virtual prototyping software from Mechanical Dynamics, among other modules.
SmartSim products will be open and interoperable, said Emery, who invited other CAE vendors and physical testing product suppliers to join the alliance.
For more information about software from SmartSim: Enter 536