Honeywell BRGA (Business, Regional and General Aviation) develops
sophisticated cockpit communications and navigational systems, predominantly
for general aviation----single propeller Cessna’s to low-end business
jets. Like many companies, the electronics firm faces increasing
time-to-market pressures and, in response, has searched for creative
ways to shorten its development cycles.
"In the past, you drew on your thermal experience to create
the first prototype, which you took to the bench to measure the
conditions and then fixed what was wrong," explains Scott Hoffman,
senior staff engineer, Honeywell BRGA. "We don’t have time
for that anymore. We have to be much closer to right the very first
Hoffman realized engineers could get quick and accurate answers
by applying CFD thermal analysis software to give them a window
into the thermal and airflow conditions within their designs. CFD
would rapidly calculate "what if" scenarios and enable
them to pick the best case configuration in a fraction of the normal
design time. More accurate answers meant fewer prototype passes.
In some case, prototypes could be eliminated entirely, dramatically
slashing development time.
Honeywell engineers are responsible for a project from design to
production. During the thermal design phase, CFD is heavily used.
Once the project has moved into the production phase, the engineers
would stop using the CFD software, possibly for several months.
"Our CFD software had to be easy-to-learn and readily picked
up after an extended period of non-use," states Hoffman. "We’ve
had other engineering software tools that require a continuous use
and 2-3 years of experience before someone becomes good at it. If
an engineer only uses it every 6 months, he never becomes proficient."
To select the CFD tool that best met the company’s requirements,
two engineers were assigned to evaluate the major vendors. After
putting the packages through their paces, they recommended Coolit.
"You can pick up Coolit after 6 months of non-use and start
building your model; there is no re-learning curve," exclaims
On his first CFD-aided project, Hoffman discovered that the cooling
fan arrangement for a proprietary design was merely circulating
the hot air around inside the enclosure, instead of pulling in cool
air from outside.
"I couldn’t have guessed that was going to happen without
running the Coolit model," he declares. "I found that
by simply reversing the direction of the fan, it worked. That simple
change saved a prototype pass and probably paid for the year’s license."