Car evolution

Multidisciplinary Design Optimization in the Automobile Industry

Sept. 20, 2018
MDO is a design field integrating various fields of engineering into a single unit. It finds a multitude of applications in today’s world, including aerospace, automobile, and electronics.

Ever since the turn of the century, the technological landscape associated with every industry has been ever-evolving. There are a wide variety of engineering disciplines which have surfaced and are finding a variety of applications in the modern-day industries. One such technological field is called multi-disciplinary design optimization, or simply MDO.

MDO has found huge applications, especially in the automobile industry. In this blog post, we shall be covering all the latest automobile-related MDO trends.

What Exactly is MDO?

MDO can be defined as that field of engineering which makes use of different optimization methods to find solutions to various design problems by simply putting together multiple fields of engineering. It is also called by names such as multidisciplinary optimization and multidisciplinary system design optimization (MSDO).

The major aim of the technology is to find the solution of a simultaneous problem which is more optimum in comparison to the design, where the optimum of each discipline is found sequentially. However, it is important to note that this does increase the overall complexity of the problem.

The automotive industry depends on MDOs now more than ever as technology continues to advance.

Applications of MDO

MDO techniques have found applications in a wide variety of fields, including architecture, automobiles, electronics, and electrical distribution. However, it is important to note that the majority of the applications are in the field of aerospace engineering, which includes the designing of aircraft.

One good example of how MDO is used is the concept of Boeing blended wing body (BWB) aircraft. This has been used extensively, especially in the conceptual and preliminary design stages. Some of the various disciplines which form part of modern-day MDO techniques are control theory, economics, mechatronics, and aerodynamics, to name a few.

MDO in the Automobile Industry

The automobile industry is one of the most intense in terms of competition. There is tough competition between companies who are coming up with innovative products to stay ahead of the competition. The use of MDO in the automobile industry has increased almost tenfold. The major aim of the usage is to find the best possible design which considers various disciplines of engineering all at once. Such an introduction helps in coming up with much-improved products.

The challenge lies in coming up with MDO methods which are suitable for the development of automobile products and which can also be easily integrated into the product development processes. The development of automobiles is a multi-department process. When it comes to the decomposing of an MDO problem, the use of both object-based and aspect-based elements is done. It involves multiple parallel development phases which involve synchronizations between the groups.

MDOs can be used during product development to help determine the crashworthiness of certain vehicles.

Usage of MDO in Product Development

When MDO is introduced, the various groups working on different parts must be able to retain their status of autonomist and must be able to work with the utmost efficiency.  The use of MDO in the product development process is all about replacing the traditional form of interactions between groups in the form of a much more formalized methodology to come up with the most optimum design.

In most cases, such simulation models are used to carry out evaluations of various design proposals. These models consist of finite element models to evaluate the structural aspects of automobiles. When we talk about aspects, we are talking about crashworthiness and stiffness of a vehicle, along with the parts. The vehicular design is governed by crashworthiness requirements and is often included in MDO studies. 

Optimization Studies

When it comes to carrying out optimization studies, the numerical values of both constraint and objective functions need to be cross-checked for settings in connection to design variable settings. Optimization in terms of model-based design can easily be done with a much more efficient approach as it involves fewer evaluation rounds in connection to detailed simulation models. Different types of design variable settings can be evaluated with the use of models, as they are also more accurate and inexpensive.

In contrast, nonlinear simulation models are very much expensive and result in a much more complex response, making it more difficult for designers as well.

Dependability of MDO in the Automobile Sector

Furthermore, gradient information is very much unavailable or is spurious. Stochastic optimization algorithms are even more suitable when it comes to coming up with the global optimum solution. These algorithms do not rely on gradients but make use of certain evaluations to find the optimum, thereby increasing the requirements for models. When it comes to crash case scenarios, these models can act as filters for numerically noisy responses.

This is just one of the aspects in which MDO is making a mark in the automobile industry. As time progresses, so will the dependability of the automobile sector on MDO methods for efficient and cost-effective vehicular design.

Nichole Heydenburg is a content writer for Apex Waves, an electronic test equipment company based in Cary, N.C.

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