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Honeywell shrinks development cycle with Coolit

Courtesy of Honeywell Inc.

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 time."

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 Hoffman.

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."


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