Dell is pleased to be a sponsor of this week’s Digital Manufacturing Revolution, the public launch of the Michigan Grid Cell™ Innovation Center at GE’s Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center in Michigan. The Grid is expected to bring 21st century digital manufacturing tools to American industry, allowing companies to leverage the power of big data, predictive simulations and high-performance computing (HPC) in a community-driven virtual network.  This event is hosted by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), an organization dedicated to driving the global competitiveness of North American manufacturers through collaboration, innovation, and advanced technologies.

We have seen our customers do amazing things using digital manufacturing technologies. For example, Micro-coax designs and builds transmission line solutions for radio frequency (RF) and microwave applications. They were able to speed up their compute-intensive microwave design simulation process up to 7x faster by combining a high-powered graphics card with a high-powered workstation. Chip Ganassi Racing competes in NASCAR, INDYCAR and GRAND AM and has recently deployed a high-performance computing (HPC) cluster based on Dell technology. Their solution supports computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research using STAR-CCM+, a popular CFD application. “We’ll be able to gain better insight into external aerodynamics, combustion and free surface flow,” says Steve Lauletta, President of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “Being able to conduct advanced simulations using HPC is a major competitive advantage for us this year and we couldn’t have done it without Dell.”

One of the themes of this event is the opportunity to bring advanced technologies to the “missing middle” — smaller manufacturers who have yet to adopt these new technologies. We address this opportunity through this short video. Essentially, we see costs going down and understanding of the value going up, which should lead to higher adoption levels for HPC among smaller manufacturers.

For manufacturers, a key source of value from HPC comes from the ability to model designs in the virtual world. Designers can test hundreds, perhaps even thousands of ideas before creating a single time-and-resource intensive physical prototype. Quickly testing ideas at scale leads directly to fewer design mistakes and ultimately a higher quality product. Also, advances in both the hardware and software application side of HPC have allowed for dataset sizes to go from thousands to millions of pieces of data in any one run. This additional level of precision increases the ability for simulations to help solve more problems than it ever has before.

One of the traditional barriers to advanced technologies for the ‘missing middle’ has been the lack of access to resources with adequate technical understanding. Manufacturers need high-level technical assistance to become fully ready and confident in their adoption of new ways to work. We congratulate the ongoing work of the NCMS, and their mission to help manufacturers get competitive and stay competitive!