Today’s vehicle manufacturers are facing challenging environment as a result of changing government regulations (including new fuel economy standards) and increasing consumer demands. Carmakers must rapidly bring to market winning designs within the price budget that their customers expect. It is here that Altair helps automakers leverage CAE (computer-aided engineering) driven design to quickly drive product performance for safety, driving, comfort and quality balanced with fuel economy and weight targets.
The Troy (Michigan, USA) headquartered Altair is one of the leading providers of enterprise-class engineering software enabling innovation, reduced development times, and lower costs through the entire product lifecycle from concept design to in-service operation. Recently, the company was in the news for hosting an exclusive leadership conclave titled ‘Design the Difference’ in Bangalore. In this interview with APF, Pavan Kumar, Managing Director, Altair India-GCC and Australia, explains how simulation technology is helping the automotive industry leap forward.
Could you provide a brief about Altair India and its journey over the years?
It has been a journey of over 15 years. What started initially for internal outsourcing of software development and services with just over 10 employees is now a 600+ employee company with three major locations at Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune, around 400 customers and substantial contribution to Altair’s global revenue.
What are the technologically innovative solutions being offered by the company for industrial, and more specifically, the automotive industry in India?
There are many firsts in the list. A few select ones are:
What is the company’s contribution to the current focus on automotive lightweighting?
The usage of newer tools like SolidThinking Inspire will help automotive designers create the most lightweight structure, meeting all the required performance attributes right from start. This is often referred to as front-loading of CAE, thus enabling much faster turnaround. This also results in getting your design first time right more often than not. To elaborate, SolidThinking Inspire enables design engineers, product designers, and architects to create and investigate structurally efficient concepts quickly and easily. Traditional structural simulations allow engineers to check if a design will support the required loads. Inspire enhances this process by generating a new material layout within a package space using the loads as an input. The software is easy to learn and works with existing CAD tools to help design structural parts right the first time, reducing costs, development time, material consumption, and product weight.
Is there any focus on offering solutions for industries to adapt to the norms of Industry 4.0?
Yes. The key constituents of Industry 4.0 are connectivity between systems, assimilation of the data that is put out by these systems (often called big data), cloud storage and computing and finally machine learning. Our tools and technologies help establish connectivity between systems, transmit data to the cloud, analyse this data in real time and provide actionable insights. In short, we help manufacturers and designers with the ability to model all these in 1D using math and system functions, combine them with 3D physics-based models and finally validate all of them to achieve the vision of Industry 4.0.
What is the company’s expansion plan for 2017-18?
We are constantly adding talent to the team in India with an active internship programme with top institutes including several IITs and NITs. At any point of time we play host to over 60 interns in the company. We foresee the induction of around 80% of these interns from time to time.
What is the company’s forecast for the automotive industry in India?
We expect the industry to maintain current growth rates in the short term. Expect new initiatives like electrification, ride-sharing, app-based cabs, etc to be disruptors in the next 4-5 years. There will probably be no impact on manufacturing volumes as India will continue to dominate small car supply across the globe but expect to see a change in domestic consumption.
After lightweighting, what would be the next area of focus to make vehicles more fuel-efficient and safer?
We will see increasing push towards alternate propulsion; a move away from fossil fuels. If the government supports initiatives like electrification and hybridisation, we expect most city duty vehicles, including the commercial segment, to switch from fossil fuels to alternate propulsion. In the interim, manufacturers will keep downsizing engines in their quest for fuel efficiency. You already have 2-litre engines doing duty where earlier 3 or 4-litre engines were used. On the safety front, regulations will keep driving new passive safety devices while customer preference will drive active safety devices like collision avoidance systems, driver fatigue warning systems, etc.
Does the company have a plan to expand in neighbouring countries through its India operations?
This has already started happening. Altair India runs the business in Sri Lanka, Gulf countries and Bangladesh at the moment. The Indian expertise has been leveraged to set up operations in the ASEAN region, which has since been spun off into a separate subsidiary.