Equitus Support During Corona

As we write this piece, we are facing a historic and unprecedented situation. The Corona Virus, which originated in Wuhan, China has now been declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation. Across the world, countries and governments are doing their best to help reduce the number of infections. Some of the recommended things include avoiding unnecessary commute and working from home as far as possible. In these times of crisis, we’d like to provide you with an update on what we can do for you, to keep things moving until normalcy is restored.

  1. Mechanical Engineering Design Services: As companies in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, we understand you have requirements to keep the development of designs active. With all our engineers working remotely, we can act as an extension of your engineering design team and help you progress with the work until your core team is ready to take over. We can help you with numerous activities including but not limited to  3D modelling, design development and draughting. We have a full suite of Autodesk licences including Inventor Professional, Autocad Electrical and Mechanical, Fusion 360 and a host of other software.
  • Finite Element Modelling: An important part of design development is the design verification and validation exercise. We have the ability to perform computer based numerical modelling and simulation. Our abilities include structural mechanics using Finite Element Modelling (FEM) methods that cover a number of phenomena such as linear, non-linear, thermal, fatigue, vibration & dynamic, impact and drop analyses, ROPS and FOPS to name a few. Software we are well versed in include Nastran and Ansys.
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics: We are able to also help model and simulate various thermal and fluid flow phenomena such as simple laminar, multi-phase involving turbulence, rotating machinery and components, conjugate heat transfer, fluid structure interactions, chemical reactions and many more. Software we are well versed in include Autodesk CFD Ultimate and Ansys.

To help through these tough times, we have numerous flexible pricing options also, all of which can be discussed and agreed upon.

To know more, please get in touch with us via the contact form or the following ways:

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @equituseng

Epiphany To Evaluation Desirability or (How to Ensure We’re Solving Actual Problems)

Innovation is a journey from Epiphany to Empowerment. The image below shows this journey and Equitus Engineering Limited’s main areas of focus.

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The Innovation Journey

Evaluate: Test the worthiness of the idea against market, company and surrounding ecosystem

Engineer: Develop the idea into a product/solution

Execute: Measure impact, monitor progress and monetise the solution

Enable: people, teams and organisations to do things they wouldn’t have been able to do without said solution

Empower: people so that the next epiphany strikes

Once the idea strikes, the very first thing to do is evaluate the idea. It is essential to evaluate the idea against the market, the company and the ecosystem. Today we focus on the market, and talk about Desirability.

Desirability is purely market focused. Typical questions we aim to answer here include ‘whom are we selling to?’, ‘what problem are we solving?’, ‘where are we selling?’ Look at the finished product/solution through the eyes of our target audience should be your focus.

Focus on the problem that needs solving or the issue that’s bothering your customer, rather than the product you plan to develop for them or your technical capability. If you are lucky, there won’t be any variance in their description of the problem and the actual problem. However, more often than not, there will be a significant variance. The main reason for this is that they are likely to be describing a downstream consequence that’s bothering them as opposed to the cause. What do we mean  by this?

Imagine a customer calling their Internet Service Provider saying they can’t get online. Whilst that is the problem they’re facing, that’s not the real problem. It’s a downstream consequence. At this point, the technical support person will go through a series of probing questions such as whether the router is on, whether the Wi-Fi light and the Internet light etc are on. What the tech support is doing here is getting to the root cause, the real issue that’s preventing the customer from getting online. Only once the real issue has been identified can an effective solution be provided. Now, apply this same logic to your innovation process and to the problem you’re trying to solve for your customer.

Before we let you go, here’s a little anecdote. A famous multinational company once designed a manufacturing line that could make both table sauces and shower gels. They did it because they had the technical ability to do it. But when it came to selling this, both sets of customers rejected it because it was a manufacturing unit that was not specialist enough for their needs. The sauce guys said ‘why do we need something that also makes shampoo’ and the shower gel guys said ‘why do we need something that also makes mayonnaise’.

Innovation – A Brief Overview

Over the last few years the term innovation has been spoken about extensively in industrial, academic and professional settings. There are misconceptions of two types. On the one hand people with ideas and inventions being portrayed as innovators and on the other hand, people doing genuinely innovative things not being seen as innovators. Both arise due to a lack of conceptual clarity. Therefore, we as a community and nation are not quite sure about whether we’re innovating, and if so, how much innovation is happening. Based on my experience, innovation needs three things; a solution to a problem or an unmet need, a demand for said solution or creation of a demand for the solution, and a way to monetise the solution and its delivery.

Innovation Basics

In this sweet spot lies Equitus Engineering Limited, and our capabilities.

Moreover, Innovation is a journey from Epiphany to Empowerment, as shown in the image below.

The Innovation Journey

Epiphany: The idea strikes

Evaluate: Test the worthiness of the idea against market, company and surrounding ecosystem

Engineer: Develop the idea into a product/solution

Execute: Measure impact, monitor progress and monetise the solution

Enable: people, teams and organisations to do things they wouldn’t have been able to do without said solution

Empower: people so that the next epiphany strikes

As you can see, innovation doesn’t happen by accident. Discoveries happen by accident, so do inventions (sometimes). The process of innovation itself is a bit like a game of football. One needs the right team with the right intent, the right environment and culture, the ability to create chances, and more importantly the ability to convert those chances to secure victory. Then start all over again.

Extracting and Displaying Beam Bending Moments in Autodesk Inventor Nastran

Another question we get asked frequently at Equitus Engineering Limited is how to extract results for beams such as bending moments in Autodesk Inventor Nastran. Let’s go through the way to do this.

Before I proceed further, I will assume that:

  1. You are familiar with the Autodesk Inventor Nastran interface and have been doing some Finite Element Modelling using the software.
  2. Your analysis is all set-up and ready to run.

You can model beams by using frame generator in Autodesk Inventor or by creating line sketches within Inventor and then assigning beam idealisations to them in Autodesk Inventor Nastran.

Once you’ve done this, you will right click on ‘Analysis 1’ (or name of the analysis in which you want to look at beam bending moments) in the tree on the top-left side of your screen and go to ‘Edit’. In the window that opens, under the ‘Output Controls’ tab, in the ‘Elements’ section you will put a check mark on ‘Force’ and then exit the window.

Once you run the analysis, you then go to the results section in the window and right click and select new. Then under ‘Result Data’ select ‘Beam Diagram’ and then under ‘Type’ select ‘Beam Moment’ at either end. Then press ‘Display’ to view the bending moments on the beam.

Product Development: The Equitus Way

As your end to end product lifecycle partner, we share the risk & complex challenges in product development, by collaborating more closely, offering fixed price services, and delivering right first time.

We bring the following value additions to the conventional product development process:

Cultural Characteristics: Our multi-cultural and diverse team knows what’s appropriate in various cultures and how to apply this knowledge with consideration and compassion for cultural sensitivities.

Mass Customisation: Our multi-disciplinary team provides designs with the ability to combine flexibility and personalisation of custom products with the cost benefits of mass production.

Concurrent Engineering: Our concurrent engineering process reduces product development time, time to market, improves productivity, quality and helps control costs.

Collaborative Approach: An inherent property of how we do things, our collaborative approach breaks down siloed working with transparency and unity of approach with one version of the truth and a common purpose.

Manufacturability: By considering variables such as ‘how to manufacture’ ‘to make or to source’ we ensure that the best resources are deployed at every stage of the product development from concept to commercialisation.

Emotional Appeal: Our human behaviour experts bring the softer, intangible benefits of generating positive human emotions and helping make our products as inclusive as possible. Sustainability: Bringing sustainability into the design process in accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, enabling and empowering people to actively participate in the process.

What is Industry 4.0?

Today in the manufacturing sector and circles, everyone is talking about Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Depending on where you’re getting your information from, the future is painted as a dystopian one. Either the robots are going to rule, much like Terminator, or it’s all about augmented realities being so close to actual realities that you don’t know what’s real and what’s not, much like Inception.

Given how much we get asked by our clients about the 4th Industrial Revolution, here’s a quick and short guide to what it is, and perhaps what it is not.

  1. It’s a gradual evolution of industry, driven by technology.

It all kicked off in Victorian England, in a city called Manchester, where we’re based, with the discovery of steam and its benefits. The technology being water and steam, kicked off the first industrial revolution. Then, along came electricity, bringing with it the second industrial revolution, which went on for a while. Then, at some point of time, the silicon chip and its wonders were made known to humankind, giving rise to computers and the third revolution. Now, we’re in the era of high-speed Internet and as a result we’re able to send and receive a lot more than we could. Welcome to the fourth revolution, where the speed and volume of data transfer drive change.

2. The Nine Pillars and Two Key Ingredients.

According to experts, and now, common knowledge, this fourth industrial revolution comprises nine pillars. In alphabetic order, these are additive manufacturing, augmented reality, autonomous robots, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, Internet of things, simulation and system integration. You can read about these by doing a simple Google search. What we’re going to briefly touch on are two essential ingredients to successfully implement any Industry 4.0 technologies you may want to.

Ingredient 1 – Collaboration: Adopting a collaborative approach is paramount to driving Industry 4.0 in organisations. Collaboration within teams, between teams, within organisation and collaboration along the entire supply chain is a must. Working in silos won’t work.

Ingredient 2 – People: People not just as a resource or a pool of skill or talent, but enabling and empowering people is essential. The flow of ideas and initiatives has to be both ways. When people are enabled to do things, they become empowered to take ownership of situations and deliver their best.

3. Technology and Humans.

Looking at the last three revolutions, it has always been humans and technology working hand in hand. It has never been us against them. Technology has always been used as a toll to aid us humans in what we need to do. Yes, there is a certain level of work that can be automated and robotised, but that will free up us humans to do what we do best, think! No amount of AI can match human ingenuity. As a result of this, our jobs will become more interesting and more fun, so cheer up!

4. Change and Constant.

Over the last few centuries, technology has changed and it has driven only how we do things. It has not changed what we want from work and life. As industry what we have always wanted from business has not changed and will not change. The quicker we adopt the new technology, the quicker we can continue to reap the benefits it has to offer.

As a closing note we’d like to stress that contrary to popular belief, industry 4.0 is affordable, fairly easy to adopt and any company regardless of size or turnover can adopt it with a little effort. To know more, get in touch!

Human Centred Design: The Equitus Way

Our core competencies have a people-centric approach. The idea is to enable people to excel at everything they do. This is reflected in every aspect of our work including how we design things. Today we look at our Human Centred Design philosophy.

The way we practise Human Centred Design is driven by the following factors:

Convert a business problem into a human solution: For example, how do we change thinking from ‘reducing customer support technical calls’ to ‘making our product defect-free and therefore removing the need for customers to call us for tech related problems’.

Our values: Particularly our emphasis on culture, which enables and empowers people, augurs collaboration, is action oriented (we try a lot of things and retain the good bits) and we share ideas without bias or judgement.

Balance: Our ability to balance cognition (interpreting and understanding the world) and emotion (making quick decisions about our surroundings).

Our People Behaviour Experts: study existing behaviours, understand desired behaviours, observe the differences, and help create a conducive environment that encourages desired behaviours, i.e. making the right thing to do, the easiest thing to do.

Our product development process: At its core it has principles of sensitivity to cultural differences, sustainability, mass-customisation, emotional & inclusive design as standard. UN SDGs: Our commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, enable people to participate rather than just talk about sustainability.

Running Multiple Analysis In A Queue Using Batch Mode With Autodesk

A frequently asked question for us at Equitus Engineering Limited is how does one balance the need to meet product development and validation timescales with computing resources availability i.e. is there a way to queue up multiple Finite Element Analysis jobs to run autonomously whilst the person can go about doing what they need to do, and if so, how.

Let me introduce you to batch processing mode using Autodesk Inventor Nastran. Before I proceed further, I will assume that:

1.      You are familiar with the Autodesk Inventor Nastran interface and have been doing some Finite Element Modelling using the software.

2.      Your analysis is all set-up and ready to run.

3.      You are able to access the Autodesk Inventor Nastran Editor.

This whole Batch-mode thing involves three stages as follows:

1.      Generating and saving the Nastran File via Inventor Nastran Interface

2.      Loading the Nastran files in the Inventor Nastran Editor to form a queue and running the queue

3.      Opening and viewing the results (what’s the point otherwise, right!)

Stage 1: Generating and Saving the Nastran File

You have your CAD model open in Autodesk Inventor and you’re in the Inventor Nastran environment. All your loads and constraints have been applied to your model, it’s meshed, contacts are defined and it’s ready to run. Now, instead of pressing run in the Ribbon, on the analysis tree, right click on ‘Analysis’ and then go down the options to ‘Generate Nastran File’. You will see a progress bar indicating the generation of the ‘.nas’ file. Once it’s done, you’ll see the ‘.nas’ file within the Inventor Nastran environment. Now, save the ‘.nas’ file using the save button with an appropriate name and at an appropriate location that will enable you to easily find it. If you have multiple subcases in the analysis, they will all be solved together.

Tip: It’s a good practice to save the .nas file with the same name as the .ipt or the .iam file

Repeat the above process until all the analyses you need to run are saves as .nas files.

Step 2: Loading the Nastran Files in the Nastran Editor and Solving the Queue

Open Autodesk Inventor Nastran Editor from the Start menu. If you have the Product Design and Manufacturing Collection, it should be part of your standard Autodesk Inventor Nastran installation. Once you’re in the Inventor Nastran Editor environment, open the .nas files generated in Stage 1. If they’re all in the same location, you can bulk open them and add them to the queue. The queue will be visible at the bottom of your Nastran Editor interface. Right Click on Default Queue and select ‘Start Queue’. It will solve all the .nas files present in the queue.

Step 3: Loading and Viewing the Results (The Really Important Bit)

There are two ways to view the results.

Option 1: Autodesk Inventor Nastran (CAD Interface)

Open the appropriate Inventor file (ipt, iam) and go to the Inventor Nastran environment. From here, select ‘Load Results’ from the ribbon. Go to the location where your batch queue was solved and select the appropriate ‘fno’ file. View the results as normal.

Option 2: Nastran Editor

Open the desired Nasran (.nas) file. Now, go to ‘File’ and ‘Load Result’s and select the appropriate results (.fno) file. View the various results. If you have multiple sub-cases, the results will also be listed as per these sub-cases.

This was a short summary of how to queue and run multiple analyses in Autodesk Inventor Nastran using batch mode. For further queries or in case of questions, get in touch!

Productivity – A Personal Journey and Observations

Next time you’re at a round table discussion or a panel discussion, say the word productivity and you are likely to hear lots of opinions on the topic. What I am about to tell you here is my personal journey and the steps I have taken over the last three and a half years, and how I have benefited from making some simple changes to my lifestyle.

Change #1: Deactivating my Facebook Account

Facebook is one of those things, that offers a means to stay in touch with friends and family across the world. True. However, there are too many people there with too many opinions on too many subjects. Nothing wrong with that, but it can become a swirling vortex that takes up a lot of time, responding (reacting) to everything that’s happening. So, I deactivated my Facebook account around November-December 2015. Initially I missed it, but eventually realised that ca.90% of what happens there has little or no bearing on my life. I also realised that those that truly want to stay in touch, will find a way. Deactivating facebook was a moment of instant gain, that made me realise I had a lot more time on my hands. More time on hands means more pertinent and useful things to focus on. Here we are, three years hence, and I have found more productive uses for my time.

Change #2: Meditating

Today’s world is chaotic, to say the least. As a species, we’ve been reduced to coping with change, rather than staying on top of things, and working hard to make sense of all that is out there. Taking, five, ten or even 20 minutes in a day for ourselves seems to be a struggle. But, taking that first step to allocate a few minutes of the day to ourselves is vital. We are blessed with 1440 minutes in a 24-hour day. 20 minutes is a meagre 1.4%. I started consciously meditating around two years ago and it has helped me tremendously. I am more aware of my feelings, my emotions, my body, and my thoughts. Being self-aware has helped me present more rational and measured responses to situations around me, and as a result, I have grown, and still am growing, as a person.

Change #3: Reading and Reading More:

There is an abundance of knowledge out there. Why not make the most of it? The best inspirations often come from the humblest of origins. Curiosity may kill the cat, but it enables humans to grow. I let my inherent curiosity take over, and have rediscovered my love of reading and learning. Again, it’s time I allocate for myself, and see it as an investment in my own self. It’s not complicated. I would suggest starting with topics that interest you and see where the journey takes.

Change #4: Ronan Keating

I must start this by telling you, Ronan Keating is not someone you are likely to find on my playlist. However, one line he wrote has stayed with me since I heard it the first time; ‘you say it best when you say nothing at all’. As humans we love expressing ourselves, be it through our work, or hobbies, or simply by giving our opinion. However, it is also important for us to learn and know when to speak and when not to. This hasn’t come naturally to me, and I am still learning when to stay quiet, and when to speak. It is a work in progress, but I have made a start. Before I speak, I ask myself, if I have facts, if I am adding value, if I know the truth, or if someone is likely to benefit. If none of these criteria are met, shhhh!

Change #5: Picking Which Battles to Fight and Which Ones to Let Go

We often are put through the experience of watching heroes that went against all odds, and ended up winning, or inspiring others. This is inspirational, and there is a lot to be learnt from this. However, the biggest learning I get from this, is choosing which battles to fight, which to let go, and which ones to revisit at a later stage. Let’s face it, all of us as humans, have a finite reserve of energy. Choosing how, and where to expend it to maximum advantage is a call, we all have to make. So, rather than engage with everything and everyone, learning to accept certain facts and focusing on stuff where we can make maximum difference is a habit we need to cultivate.

Thank you for patiently reading through this. These are just a few things I consciously have practised over the last few years and have benefitted from. I hope you find some of this useful. I wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2019!

Best Wishes,

Raam Shanker

Mastery of Failure – The Key to Success

Have you failed at anything at any point of time? I have, and I believe most of us, if not all of us, have at some point, failed! However, our failures as people is not we’re talking about here. We’re talking of a different kind of failure and why the mastery of failure is key to success for engineers.

For the best part, the main focus of engineering has been the pursuit of failure, or rather, how failure occurs. From the simple paper clip to the complex aircraft, the primary requirement is for them to not fail. So, in order to ensure that they do not fail, one must understand how they are likely to fail.

The most obvious failure is technical failure, where the device does not perform its intended function. This results in anything from a broken paper clip to an air crash! Whilst a broken paper clip can simply be replaced, the downstream consequences of an air crash care often catastrophic.

The most valuable asset that we must preserve and protect is human life. Broken components and systems can be replaced or fixed, but the human life is irreplaceable. Yes, we talk of reputations and perceived value of organisations, but nothing comes close to the importance of ensuring that people are protected from any and all possible harms.

So, with human lives in mind, as engineers, our primary pursuit is to understand failure, its mechanisms, its causes, and consequences, and eventually attain mastery of it. Mastery of failure, gives us better control over its effects, and therefore enables us to develop better, more robust and highly functional designs and increases our chances of being able to protect and preserve lives.

What about non-technical failure? Failures whose consequences are indirect, but still have adverse consequences. In our pursuit of designing against technical failures, we run the risk of over-engineering components, machinery, systems and structures. This results in increased costs of material, manufacturing, resources, transportation & logistics, all of which when put together drive the price up to the point of unaffordability.

Let’s look at the aircraft. Over-engineering it will result in a heavier aircraft, more robust wing structure, sturdier landing gear, more and sturdier tires, requiring bigger or more number of engines, consuming more fuel. Agreed, that airlines can increase ticket prices, to meet the costs. But then, why would someone want to pay more when something similar is available for less? So, airlines may find the operating costs prohibitive, and therefore not invest in the over-engineered aircraft after all. This is also a failure, albeit not a technical one, but still, a failure!

Non-technical failures must matter to engineers, simply because, if the technically brilliant devices we design and make aren’t usable due to whatever reason, they will not fulfil their purpose. This is why, mastery of failure, both, technical and non-technical is the key to success. Because, as engineers, it’s important to not just design and make technically sound products, but also to see them used and loved by people, making them a commercial success.