infoTECH Feature

April 09, 2010

Woodward-IBM Brings Cloud Computing to Aircraft Component Design

When it comes to the passenger aircrafts, Woodward is a name to be reckoned with. As designer and manufacturer of crucial jet engine components, Woodward has helped power more than 30 percent of the world's passenger aircraft.

The company was in the lookout for a cloud-based solution to simulate its designs. These kinds of simulations are commonly used across the industries today, as the product simulation helps avoid creating physical prototypes of the products.

This, in turn, helps manufacturers deliver the product to the market faster. Sometimes it can be even 80 percent faster than the time taken for building up physical prototypes. According to an IBM press release, Woodward Control Solutions is going to access a high performance cloud environment from Nimbis Services and IBM (News - Alert) to simulate and design aircraft components.

And with this, Woodward, unlike many of today's manufacturing companies has successfully switched from desktop designing solutions which, according to the industry experts, inhibit innovation and force manufacturers to rely more on physical prototyping.

Woodward in its selection of cloud computing solution might have been guided by the conclusion of The Council on Competitiveness that high performance computing has the capacity to drive innovation and make U.S. manufacturers, and the nation more competitive. Like other US manufacturers, Woodward is going through the same challenges such as global economic crisis, contraction of global markets and increasing competition from overseas. In this situation, IBM's cloud services are expected to make the world famous infrastructure designing company more productive.

While working on another project, Woodward think tank came to learn about IBM Computing on Demand cloud center and found that high performance computing would help the company more accurately model the behavior of fuel nozzles designed for Pratt & Whitney engines.

It also found out that high performance computing would enable Woodward to effectively simulate the development of new products instead of building costly and time consuming physical prototypes, saving the company $275,000 per engineer per year by making them 76 percent more productive while enabling the company to reduce risk and make the manufacturing process 80 percent faster. And it will also enable the company generate 50 percent less scrap waste.

The success of the pilot project made Woodward sign deal with IBM and Nimbis. Woodward will employ cloud services from IBM using Nimbis Services' ecommerce Cloud Portal to simulate and design aircraft components under a manufacturing yield improvement innovation contract from the Defense Logistics Agency, which promotes innovative manufacturing technology and projects under the Industrial Base Innovation Fund (IBIF).

The Nimbis ecommerce Cloud Portal will provide Woodward with a private cloud portal and billing system through which it will rent resources in a secure IBM Computing on Demand cloud center and access Ansys (News - Alert) simulation software.

According to the recommendations of Council on Competitiveness, U.S. manufacturers should consider adopting high performance computing for modeling, simulation, and analysis for increasing their competitive edge.

Madhubanti Rudra is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri

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