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Recently, I sat down with Kumar Srinivasan, Sr. Technical Director responsible for CFD Solutions at Cadence, to learn a little about him, and to get his insights about changes happening in the automotive industry and the role of simulation in system design integration and optimization. His vast knowledge and expertise in the automotive industry could nurture Cadence toward the disruptive future of intelligent automobiles.
What inspired you to join Cadence?
Today, we are witnessing a significant change in the automotive and aerospace industries driven primarily by the rapid confluence of electronics and mechanical systems. This has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for cost reduction and system-level optimization. Cadence envisages facilitating this metamorphosis with state-of-the-art, multi-physics, and multi-scale simulation technology coupled with efficient, cutting-edge workflows. I sync very well with Cadence's vision. In my new role here at Cadence, I look forward to helping customers integrate innovative, customized simulation workflow solutions and open new opportunities for design optimization while reducing the overall cost of product development.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and experience? How does it align with your new role here at Cadence?
After receiving my Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, I worked in the industry for over 25 years applying CFD and system simulation methods to various applications, primarily in the automotive domain. Before joining Cadence, I worked at Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US LLC), wearing different hats with increasing responsibilities. As the Manager of the Vehicle CFD team, one of my key responsibilities was integrating several innovative CFD technologies into the product development process. Subsequently, I held the role of Global Head of Aero/Thermal development at FCA US LLC. In this role, I was responsible for the aerodynamics and thermal performance of all FCA vehicle programs. This comprised simulation, testing, and validation. I also had the opportunity to lead the engineering mentor program at Stellantis, facilitating career guidance to participating members.
A few career highlights during my tenure at FCA are:
Are you part of any professional institutions that support CFD or multi-physics simulation technology?
Yes, I have been an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Thermal Systems Committee since 2004, during which I helped organize multiple technical sessions at SAE conferences related to Thermal systems simulation. In 2020, I received the SAE Forest R. MacFarland Award for outstanding contributions toward planning and executing SAE Engineering Events. I have over 35 technical publications on various topics related to CFD and its applications. I have also been a member of multiple doctoral thesis dissertation committees, a few of them related to CFD technologies.
How different is automobile testing today? And why is it so?
There is a continuous acceleration toward reducing physical testing and a commensurate shift toward virtual simulation. This is driven by multiple factors including, but not limited to, cost reduction pressures, reducing time to market, and advancements in simulation technology. Multi-disciplinary simulations that exchange information to allow for more integrated design evolution are becoming more prevalent. For example, range optimization of a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) thermal system requires strong integration of the HVAC system, battery cooling system, power electronics thermal system along with the aerodynamic shape efficiency to achieve optimal system performance. Previously, these were siloed and were carried out independently and optimized individually. But with electrification, these silos must be tied together, and integration is the name of the game. Needless to say, to achieve the best possible aerodynamic performance and competitive vehicle range targets, vehicle shape efficiency optimization is more critical than ever before.
OEMs are also using simulations to help optimize the amount of testing they perform. Simulations are used to identify worst-case scenarios, and physical testing is limited to cover these configurations. The less severe, lower-risk configurations are covered through simulations. This again helps reduce the overall cost of product development. More focus on maintaining correlated simulation models help to improve confidence in simulations for the next product cycle.
What are the hotspots for the convergence of electronics and mechanical systems in the current automotive industry?
A virtual simulation for ‘Controls and calibration’ with Model in the Loop (MIL), Software in the Loop (SIL), and Hardware in the loop (HIL) is a huge area of growth in the automotive industry. For example, in IC engine-based vehicles, energy consumed to achieve cabin comfort was not a high-priority design consideration. But today, with the same system cooling the passenger cabin and the battery, a balance between the two loops is substantial and unavoidable. The mechanical systems such as the HVAC system and the air delivery system must be optimized with software, moving components such as valves, and actuators to control the flow rate and temperatures between cabin comfort, battery thermal management, and other subsystems. To achieve the end goal, i.e., optimized system design, a transition from a traditional mechanical system into mechatronics by integrating electronic systems, software, controls, and calibration are indispensable.
Information about the battery's state of charge, distance to the nearest charging station, etc., are known through onboard diagnostics. This allows for optimal heating and cooling of the battery to facilitate fast charging for the customer. There are ample opportunities for the convergence of mechanical systems, electronics, and intelligent controls. Companies that adopt simulation tools to facilitate this integration will eventually lead the industry.
Key take-aways from Kumar:
To learn more about Cadence technologies as they evolve, connect with Kumar Srinivasan on LinkedIn.
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