Optimizing the Performance of the Whole Vehicle with Effective Virtual Prototypes
Engineering an automobile has an ever-increasing challenge: to satisfy many competing objectives for the attributes of the full vehicle. The vehicle development process is under continuous pressure to reduce development time, reduce product cost, and come up with innovative designs by exploring more options. At the same time, customer demands and product legislation keep pushing-out the required performance. One field of technology where this is especially true, is vibro-acoustic performance. The result is a demand to front-load the design analysis process. Virtual prototypes for vibroacoustics and other attributes offer a way to meet this demand, but the virtual prototyping system must properly support the characterization, validation and improvement of the functional performance of components, subsystems and whole vehicles. This demands that design analysis technologies are adapted and relevant to each stage of the cycle: concept and planning, design and development, verification and production. The design analysis activity must also be integrated into the wider design process and the overall business process. The paper presents several enabling technologies, developed to facilitate virtual prototyping, including: the integration of multiple functional-performance analysis techniques into a seamless process; rapid conversion of models from one type to another; fast but accurate computational methods for the solution of vibro-acoustic equations with the necessary accuracy for robust design; and the capture of analysis sequences into processes which can be repeated for trends analysis and optimisation. The need for correct load definitions and the use of hybrid methods combining virtual models with experimental data are also discussed. The methods are reviewed and illustrated with reference to various case studies and examples.