Anyone who knows me will know that I know almost nothing about football. But that quote from somebody called Alan Hansen sums up a big problem with implementations of simulation technology. Without the perspective that experienced engineers and engineering managers can bring to the process, it generally means nothing. Over and over again we are contacted by fresh graduates tasked with looking at simulation tools for their newly adopted place of work. And look they do. But they don’t see much.
If you are going to make simulation a core activity within the design office (and you really shouldn’t stop there, but anyway lets move on) you need a really good handle on what the key design and engineering challenges of the business are.
Simulation tools don’t just radiate goodness like some information age fairy godmother. They help solve problems and increase the knowledge base of the business; but only in response to the issues being set out properly.
Describing the problem takes a global understanding of the process of interest and critically how much is known about it. And all this should be in place before anyone chooses a software package. If you don’t know the sorts of problems that need solving, you don’t know what the system needs to do to justify its expense.
Without that, it isn’t an engineering decision, or even a business one. More an act of faith; and if there’s one thing that simulation is about, it’s reducing the dependency on acts of faith.
The upshot is that managers don’t have the luxury of leaving the big analysis decisions to new starters and fresh graduates. And that means they have to get up to speed on at least the basics of the technology. And get properly involved in the software selection process rather than leaving it to the kids.