Speaking as a salesperson that had to Google FEA to be sure he got the acronym right, pitching the purchase of a good finite element analysis package to upper management can be a daunting task. While I might not be able to help you with your non-linear mesh problems (mostly since I initially thought it was curable with medication), I can certainly help you qualify bringing in such a powerful tool.
It’s important to first throw out the idea that software is just a part of your company’s overhead. The right tools in the right hands can provide a quantifiable return on investment. The further you get away from the technical benefits and the more you embrace the critical business issues FEA can solve, the better chance you have of bringing in the software you need.
1. Quantify the hours spent on an ECO issued due to a field or prototype failure.
While no FEA package can entirely prevent malfunctions or eliminate the need for a prototyping process, it’s easy to demonstrate how it can provide some level of improvement. Try to calculate the number of man hours it would save by simply removing ONE round of design changes. Take an average hourly rate for those involved in the process, double it to account for overhead costs, and then you have your savings. Want to take it further? What is the material cost associated with each prototype? How much time is spent in machining or manufacturing just to build a part or assembly to be broken?
2. Calculate innovation time / time-to-market losses.
You’ve got all of the hours that will show the savings on the front end, but what about the time lost that could have been spent on other projects? What kind of hold up are your customers facing and how much retail time is your product missing out on? If the average ECO takes a few days, a week, or even a month, that’s time not being spent on the next project and time your product ISN’T bringing in revenue. Upper management should have a good idea of how much that lost time costs.
3.) Ask if your company is spending a great deal of money on warranty work or worse yet, litigation costs for field failures.
It may be a touchy subject to broach, but these are additional costs that would be reduced with a software package that helps you design better products. Management will see this and address their warranty concerns twofold. First, less warranty work and/or replacements means less cost. Secondly, marketing can lean more heavily on warranties that rarely have to be called into action. The reduction of litigation costs or even the reduction of concern over potential litigation costs may be enough in their own right to qualify FEA.
4.) Consider SOLIDWORKS Simulation
So here comes the real sales pitch… SOLIDWORKS Simulation lets you design and test in a parallel process. You DON’T have to complete a design, export it, run a test, redesign, and repeat. With Simulation, you can conduct your tests quickly and early within SOLIDWORKS, before your design is even complete. It’s also far easier to use than some of the more expensive software packages that require a PhD and a second mortgage on your building to run. Personally, I can’t get the home button on my Galaxy S5 to stop bringing up the Google search bar but I was able to run a static stress study at one of our SOLIDWORKS Simulation Hands on Test Drives. (If you know how to fix a Galaxy S5, please email me)
5.) Bring in the team from CADimensions
I’m sure you can feel the grip on my pitch continue to tighten, but I can assure you that we're here to help. There’s no “selling” when people see firsthand the value our tools can bring to the table. We have phenomenal application engineers who can demonstrate Simulation in action and solution specialists who can help make a business case for the investment. We won #1 in Customer Satisfaction in North America this year and it wasn’t by deploying pushy salespeople...
You know the technical advantages of FEA. You are probably already sold on SOLIDWORKS Simulation if you’re reading this blog post in the first case. Make a BUSINESS case for your management to consider bringing in a more complete software solution and then help us help you complete the process.