Computer modelling is now an essential tool in many areas of science and technology. With widespread availability at low cost of ever more powerful computers, most sectors of UK industry now routinely use simulation to support, and sometimes to replace, experimentation. Simulation is used to check that mechanical designs, or operating procedures, will work correctly. For example, most integrated circuits manufactured today are first tested through computer simulation.
Optimising engineering designs
Modelling and computer simulation may be used to understand the behaviour of many kinds of industrial systems. This understanding allows the optimization of various kinds of mechanical designs, such as robots and aerodynamic surfaces. For example, in the aerospace industry, computer simulation is used to predict the lift and drag characteristics of new aircraft. This allows the design of new aerodynamic surface geometries to be optimized for fuel economy.
Simulation is being increasingly used to optimize the management of a broad range of complex automated processes, such as chemical production plants and automated production lines. It can be a great challenge to coordinate a series of stages of production, and the movement of materials and parts through these stages. Efficient management must ensure that components and materials are available where and when they are needed.
Simulation has become a vital tool in industry because many industrial processes are examples of complex systems. These are systems comprised of many interacting elements. The overall behaviour of the system emerges through the complex interactions between its elements. This emergent behaviour can only be understood by building large-scale simulations of the interactions between the system's elements.
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