The Relevance of Simulation-Specialised Channel Partners
January 9th, 2017
One of the most popular ways for a company to acquire engineering simulation software has always been through a value-added channel partner or reseller. As software technology and delivery mechanisms have developed over the last 40 years, user needs have changed. It is interesting to consider how the route to market for simulation software has also evolved.
The first truly general purpose commercial simulation software became available in the 1970s, with sales and support typically between developers and users. These codes were often customised to suit particular industries or large clients, leading to certain commercial solutions being popular in particular sectors. This distinction has mostly disappeared today as general purpose systems have unified their features.
The mid 1980s saw the increasing appointment of channel partners by developers to undertake local sales and support services. These partners were usually consulting businesses with significant in-house expertise in the technologies. Consequently, they added value by supporting their software customers with intimate knowledge of the products and practical application experience. They were also focused enough to be flexible and highly responsive to customer needs and often near enough to regularly visit.
As CAD and simulation have become more integrated since the millennium, FEA and CFD software has also been available for purchase from agents and distributors with minimal history, knowledge or practical experience in using simulation themselves to solve real-life engineering problems. This has resulting in a number of challenges for end-users when looking for technical support, mentoring or training.
Successful use of simulation requires a detailed knowledge of the underlying physics. Only when this is understood is it possible to create accurate and representative simulation models. These then facilitate an in-depth understanding of how a company’s products and manufacturing processes work.
Ownership of accurate simulation models, including suitable material data, for specific engineering products, processes and applications is extremely valuable intellectual property and can be a great source of competitive advantage to a company.
This is why investment in developing these models should be considered as important as any product development activity, and can lead to clear business benefits such as increased brand reputation, increased speed to market and more predictable warranty risks. However, the days when a company can always afford the time or cost to find and train a specialist analyst to develop and run all their simulation models are gone.
Promises regularly made by professional sales people of easy-to-use simulation software that requires very little instruction are seductive. Certainly, user interfaces are much more efficient and intuitive than when Wilde Analysis started in 1980, and flexible licensing and HPC have reduced the cost per run.
Unfortunately, we still see the misuse of the technology within industry that can lead to non-optimal design decisions being taken or worse. At the very least, many companies fail to maximise their investment from the software.
Most of the time this is due to inadequate, poor quality training or lack of access to quality technical support. Consequently, we believe the expert services a simulation-specialised channel partner can provide to users have never been so valuable or relevant.
The underlying adage here is to learn from people who have done this type of work many times in the past. Failure to do so may result in expensive and dangerous mistakes.
I’d love to read your thoughts and experiences on this topic.
David Deakin, Managing Director