Before the Build
Software company Blue Ridge Numerics (Charlottesville, VA, U.S.) recently
released an updated version of its CFdesign program that, according to
Len Whitehead, product manager, “is a way to simulate product performance
digitally on a computer before a prototype of the device is ever built.”
Ridge Numerics’ CFdesign software program
allows motor engineers and product managers to create
3D simulation of the product or component before building
a design prototype. The visual model calculates flow,
heat, and depicts the results in color graphics.
Using design dimensions, algorithms, geometry, and fundamental physical
data, the software program is said to simulate rotational, solid-body
linear and curvilinear motion within an MCAD environment.
in the CAD system for the prototype design, the same geometry that is
typically first entered into the CAD software is instead entered into
data includes the physical conditions of the motor or blower regarding
heat, initial air rates, and material components.
“The user interacts
with the software by giving it physical attributes and the physical conditions
of the component,” Mr. Whitehead explains. “They create the
geometry in their CAD tool and then bring that geometry into our tool,
CFdesign. There is a set of mathematical governing equations that are
known to represent the physical phenomena, which is coded in the software.”
After the physical data has been entered, the program creates a simulation
of the motor or blower product, showing the flow rate in a graphical and
color-coded form. Compatible with any CAD software, CFdesign v7.0 allows
product managers and designers to see how their design would actually work
before any materials, equipment, and work-power are ever used. According
to the company, the software accurately depicts the interaction between
the physical device and its air movement. “It’s a 3D design
and [the software] makes it intelligent,” says Jim Spann, vice president
of Marketing. “It goes from just being lines and curves into actually
behaving like a product in a real-world operating environment.”
This, adds Mr. Whitehead, provides a direct benefit to motor manufacturers,
as design problems can be identified immediately. Instead of creating a
design and then building a prototype to test it, an engineer can simply
enter the data into the program and see the product in action, without
a physical model. “Once they see how the device is going to perform,
that allows the engineer to understand the product and make changes or
modifications to try it again,” Mr. Whitehead tells APPLIANCE.
The ability to see design changes immediately and the effects they have
on the motor are most beneficial to companies, according to Mr. Whitehead.
In fact, the software company claims a motor manufacturer can save an average
of 65 percent in the design phase, while also increasing product development
and time to market.
In addition, if design changes are needed, they can be made in the MCAD
program where the CFdesign software will automatically implement those
changes, simulating the adjustments almost instantly. This, Mr. Whitehead
says, is especially advantageous to the design of motors and blowers. “Keeping
the motor cool is really important,” he says. “What CFdesign
will do is allow you to conduct that test through analysis, and it gives
you the temperature distribution throughout the entire device.” This
analysis, he adds, is also a benefit. Instead of only knowing the data
associated to a few, discrete points usually found in a prototype, the
software simulation analyzes and accesses the entire working device.
The latest version of the program can also tell engineers how their motor
or blower will work in the final end product. The software’s System-Level
Pump/Blower Object feature, for example, provides the capability to include
a centrifugal pump or blower as a component within a system level analysis.
While the program is depicting results graphically, a component thermal
summary report is simultaneously being generated. The resulting report
gives a detailed description of the thermal results for every component
within the assembly. “You can see it, just by looking at the pictures,
at the images, that a piece is really hot, or really cold, but beyond that
you can see why,” Mr. Whitehead tells APPLIANCE.
It’s a great way for engineers to test an idea or if they have a
design; it’s a way to allow the user to make design refinements before
they actually create prototypes and build parts,” he continues. “CFdesign
can have an economic impact on product development, and our customers are
telling us ‘you saved us a lot of money.’”
Software programs are also being designed to effectively manage a motor’s
failure. In fact, the technology is being used as part of the Motor Decisions
Matter (MDM) campaign, which promotes effective motor management to help
reduce plant downtime and save ultimate energy use.
Originally launched in the U.S. in June 2001, the program was funded for
3 years and then extended for an additional 3 years. With a goal to increase
the demand for premium-efficiency motors and best-practice motor repair
service, the campaign introduced a software tool—the 1-2-3 Approach
to Motor Management.
Motor manufacturers and distributors use MDM resources like the 1-2-3 Approach
to help their customers understand and implement sound motor management
strategies,” says Emily Dahl, program associate for the MDM campaign. “The
campaign sponsors represent a wide array of industry experts who also serve
as a valuable resource.”
Using a simple Excel spreadsheet, the free software tool, downloadable
from www.motorsmatter.org, calculates energy costs and compares the financial
impact of repairing or replacing motors. Used primarily for commercial
and industrial equipment powered by three-phase motors, the software tool
determines payback periods for NEMA Premium™ motors, calculates return-on-investment,
and generates a summary report in three steps.
First, input data is entered for each respective motor that is being considered,
including nameplate data, hours of operation, and facility electric rates.
Next, the results are calculated, which are then reviewed between the program’s
sponsors and the customer. Annual energy costs, annual energy savings,
payback periods, net present value, and ROI scenarios for immediately replacing
a motor with a NEMA Premium motor. Possible scenarios include waiting for
it to fail and rewinding it according to best-practice guides, waiting
for it to fail and replacing it with an U.S. Energy Policy Act (EPAct)
motor, or waiting for it to fail and replacing it with a NEMA Premium motor.
Finally, a decision is made in collaboration with an MDM sponsor. Tags
can then be printed from the program and affixed to the motors, so that
in the case of failure, anyone can look at the motor and know exactly what
to do to achieve the best possible cost and efficiency practices. All of
this is done before motor maintenance is even necessary.
OEMs can use the MDM campaign as a value-added resource to get customers
to think about repair replacement decisions before the motor fails,” explains
Ted Jones, program manager for MDM. “OEMs could specify NEMA Premium
motors in their products and promote the energy-saving benefits to their
Ms. Dahl agrees the software can dramatically help companies save on costs. “The
1-2-3 Approach is viewed as credible and non-biased in the marketplace,” she
says. “Consideration of life-cycle costing in addition to initial
cost when making repair or replacement decisions is a valuable concept
that sponsors introduce to their customers.”