Industry: Electronics and Semiconductors
Heraeus Noblelight GmbH has been developing specialty light sources since the invention of the quartz glass lamp in 1904. Light, whether ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR) or middle wave range, is at the heart of everything they do. Located in Germany, the company has harnessed the power of light to solve a wide range of challenges in the manufacturing and process industries. They also design and manufacture consumer products like the Soluva® air purifier, for removing airborne viruses including the Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) from healthcare settings, public transport and classrooms.
Engineering simulation is not only used during the product development phase, but also to understand the best way to deploy products in the field. “We use CFD simulation to help our customers understand their processes and where to locate our UV or IR emitters to make them most effective,” explains Dörte Eggers, simulation engineer at Heraeus Noblelight. Eggers continues, “sometimes a customer already has a process in operation that is not working optimally, so we also use simulation to troubleshoot and find ways to improve it.”
Modeling the complexity with CFD
Heraeus Noblelight products cater to a wide range of industrial processes, from curing paints and adhesives using precision IR emitters, to water and air disinfection equipment using ultraviolet C (UV-C). A range of modeling techniques are required to capture the prevalent physics regimes in each case.
“We selected Simcenter STAR-CCM+ for CFD analysis because it delivers a wide range of physics modeling options in a flexible and easy-to-use package,” says Dr. Larisa von Riewel, computer-aided engineering (CAE) group leader. “Our core workload is thermal management simulation. However, we often need to include additional physics like multiphase flow and particle tracking.”
Figure 1. Particle tracking analysis calculating residence time of air in the Soluva air purifier – a device for removing airborne viruses from public spaces.
Seeing the invisible
Since many of their products operate outside of the visible light spectrum, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation is a valuable tool for verifying specific applications, tailored to each customer’s process. Therefore, CFD has become a routine part of the sales process and requires a rapid turnaround of simulation work. This provides confidence that the construction team will deliver a high performing product and add significant value for customers.
As well as making invisible light visible, using CFD analysis makes the unmeasurable measurable. “In some cases, running physical trials is very expensive and sometimes impossible,” states von Riewel. “Taking our IR emitters as an example, simulation is essential as it enables us to estimate parameters we cannot physically measure. Understanding this behavior is critical for achieving the functionality and lifespan we need from the devices.”
Communicating the insights gained from simulation to a range of stakeholders is also an important part of the process. “Every new release of the software has additional post-processing features and we find these very useful to present simulation data to customers in the context of their equipment and processes,” says von Riewel.
Going faster with Simcenter Cloud HPC
Today, most CFD simulation at Heraeus Noblelight is done in-house using a large on-premise workstation. However, during busy periods, the team needs to tap into additional resources by outsourcing simulation work. The need to scale up and down quickly makes it difficult to manage licensing costs to cover short periods of use and to ensure that resources are used efficiently.
Over the past few months, Heraeus Noblelight has been an early-access user of Simcenter ™ Cloud HPC software, a new hybrid software as a service (SaaS) product, which enables simulation runs to be launched on cloud infrastructure directly from Simcenter STAR-CCM+ ™ software. These are part of the Xcelerator portfolio, the comprehensive and integrated portfolio of software and services from Siemens Digital Industries Software. By purchasing hardware and software in the same transaction and paying only for what is used, Heraeus Noblelight sees potential to gain more efficiency by being able to instantly access high performance computing (HPC) resources from anywhere, at any time.
“When we are working with remote simulation teams, we often find we do not have HPC resources where we need them to be,” continues von Riewel. “Therefore, Simcenter Cloud HPC would enable us to speed up collaborative projects. We also would not need to worry about license costs going to waste if a project finishes sooner than expected.” Using the cloud means the HPC resources are readily accessible by all team members. “I would say the interface is user friendly and intuitive, with several options for monitoring the runs,” continues von Riewel. “Transferring the simulation files was fast and straightforward.”
For von Riewel and Eggers, simulation is a small part of their working day. Therefore, they are not able to devote as much time as they would like to researching and testing new models and features. Therefore, they rely on the expertise of the Simcenter customer support team and their dedicated support engineer (DSE). “We are always under time pressure. When we face new challenges, we prefer to go to our DSE who explains relevant new features and how they will benefit us. This is a great time saver,” von Riewel explains.
Flexible and scalable
As well as facilitating collaboration with remote teams, Eggers also sees potential to leverage cloud resources to run more ambitious simulations or broaden the scope of projects while still meeting tight deadlines. “In some cases, we need to run bigger models to capture more detail or run more simulations in the same amount of time. Simcenter Cloud HPC gives us that flexibility.”
Heraeus Noblelight frequently works on projects involving customer proprietary processes and technologies, so data privacy and security are critical for their business. “When we sign agreements with customers, there are usually terms restricting how and where we store and work on their data,” explains von Riewel. “Of course, all stakeholders need to be sure their data is safe. I expect attitudes will gradually change as the world adapts to this new way of working.”
Simcenter Cloud HPC is built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure and follows best practices developed by AWS and Siemens for developing and operating multi-tenanted SaaS applications. Users have complete control over data sovereignty and retention and the product will also go through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 and System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC2) Type 1 certification.
“I am confident that Siemens is diligent in maintaining the necessary policies and certifications to satisfy us and, importantly, our customers,” von Riewel concludes.
Looking to the future
When asked about how running CFD simulations in the cloud might impact their work in the future, Heraeus Noblelight sees flexibility and accessibility as key benefits. “Since the pandemic, there has been a large shift toward remote work, which means there are not always people available to access workstations in the office when something goes wrong,” says von Riewel. “Being able to work on projects from anywhere in the world is a dream and I feel this is the way humanity should go.”
Von Riewel also sees the ability to scale up and down instantly as a future competitive advantage. “The world continues to develop and everything is increasing in complexity. Models are becoming more accurate and we need to capture more physical realism. You can guarantee we will frequently require more powerful HPC resources in the future. Simcenter Cloud HPC offers that agility, which translates to a more competitive offering for our customers.”