The impact of simulation on sustainable product development

13-03-2024 | Posted by Principia

Simulación y desarrollo sostenible

We live in a world marked by an increasingly demanding environmental agenda, aimed at addressing unprecedented environmental challenges. Environmental sustainability has become not only a mantra but a critical business priority, key to competitiveness.

In this context, simulation software tools are playing a fundamental role, enabling companies to innovate and develop sustainable products while minimizing the associated environmental impact.

For example, in the case of material design, simulation allows engineers to explore an almost infinite variety of configurations to validate the most sustainable options. Tools like Finite Element Analysis (FEA) can predict how alternative and recycled materials will respond under real operating conditions, facilitating the selection of those that not only meet the technical performance requirements but also reduce the environmental footprint.

Simulation software can also model manufacturing processes before they are implemented, identifying opportunities to reduce energy consumption and minimize waste or scrap. For example, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation can optimize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in manufacturing plants, improving energy efficiency.

Through simulation, complete life cycle analyses can also be performed, from raw material extraction to product commissioning, helping to identify and mitigate environmental impacts throughout the product’s life cycle and identifying areas for improvement in future developments.

For example, in logistics operations, the supply chain and distribution networks can be modelled to find more efficient and sustainable routes, reducing CO2 emissions associated with transportation.

Perhaps the most well-known paradigm is the use of virtual twins to design, develop, and test products virtually, minimizing the number of physical prototypes needed. This saves materials and energy while speeding up development and commercialization time, allowing for quicker iterations towards sustainable products.

Simulation, and the software that makes it possible, is a powerful tool in the pursuit of sustainability, providing smarter designs, optimized manufacturing processes, and models that include a thorough assessment of environmental impact, enabling companies committed to reducing their environmental footprint to move from theory to practice.

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