Collaborative construction of a digital prototype in pSeven Enterprise

Industry: Turbomachinery| Product: pSeven Enterprise

July 1, 2024


A well-known term “Digital Twin” is usually associated with a virtual replica of a physical asset (product, process or a part of it) and more importantly connected to it. Digital twins are typically used to analyse, monitor and optimize the performance of the physical assets. In an ideal world, each physical asset should have its own Digital Twin instance associated and connected with it.

Digital Twin instances can be created from scratch after the asset is built or converted from a digital prototype that was used to simulate and test the performance of the asset during the design stage. These prototypes allow engineers and designers to identify potential problems and optimize the design before any physical prototyping or production takes place. In this sense, Digital Twins also have a lifecycle.

Figure 1. Stages of Digital Twin and product/process lifecycles

Digital prototype can be created using CAD/CAE models and other design data. It can include a wide range of simulations models, such as stress and fatigue analysis, fluid dynamics simulations and thermal analysis. By simulating the behaviour and performance of an asset in a virtual environment, engineers can test different design options and configurations, and identify the optimal design that meets the desired performance criteria. This can help to reduce the time and cost associated with physical prototyping and testing.

This approach is widely used in turbomachinery and aerospace industry, for example in the development of jet engines. Jet engines are very complex in their design and the combination of physics involved, so there are usually multiple teams working on simulations of different parts of the engine. In addition, the design process is iterative, so the same simulations need to be repeated over and over again with minor adjustments to the input data. Possible allocation of responsibilities is shown in Fig. 2.

Figure 2. Allocation of responsibilities in jet engine development

As said before, a wide range of simulations and analyses is involved in the process. Different teams conduct different but heavily interconnected studies, and this raises the problem of data transfer. Engineers are not only responsible for modelling, but also need to take care of the format of the data exchanged.

In this article, we will show how pSeven Enterprise can provide the ability to capture separate studies as workflows to automate the simulation inside each of the involved departments and after that link the dependencies between the simulations in one master workflow.

Workflow for a single study

To automate a single study a special workflow in pSeven Enterprise can be constructed. For example, workflow for conducting computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis of a compressor can be seen in Fig. 3.

Figure 3. Single study workflow

The workflow starts with the “CFXPre session” block, which prepares a new preprocessing session based on a template file with updated values of boundary conditions. In edit mode (Fig. 4), the user can open the block and upload a template of a text file with data for Ansys CFX Pre. The block automatically reads all expressions and functions. In run mode, the block will generate a new input file with data for Ansys CFX Pre based on a template (uploaded by the user in edit mode) using data received at the input ports of the block.

Figure 4. “CFXPre session” block

After that the “CFX Pre” block starts a preprocessing session and generates input file for solver, solution process is then triggered by the “CFX Solver” block and post-processing session is launched by the “CFX Post” block.

To read and output the results the “CSV diagrams” block is used. In edit mode (Fig. 5), the user can open the block and upload a CSV file template obtained from Ansys CFX Post. The block automatically generates a list of output ports of the block corresponding to the data from the CSV file.

In the run mode, the block reads data from the CSV file generated during the study and writes data to the output ports of the block.

Figure 5. “CSV diagrams” block

Workflow construction has been facilitated by the use of special blocks (Fig. 6). These blocks provide a seamless connection to engineering applications (i.e. Ansys CFX). These blocks can be developed for any type of software that supports batch execution.

Figure 6. List of blocks used in the workflow

Each team responsible for a particular part of the jet engine can assemble such workflows.

Master workflow for connecting multiple simulations

During the study of the jet engine as a whole, boundary conditions at the input of a particular simulation are set, based on the results of different one. Thus, considered data transfer can be seen in Fig. 7.

Figure 7. Data transfer during jet engine study

A corresponding master workflow can be assembled in pSeven Enterprise (Fig. 8). A special type of block is used in the workflow - «Workflow reference». It creates a reference to an up-to-date version of the existing workflow, for example, “Compressor” references the workflow from Fig. 3. This type of block makes it possible for different departments and the person responsible for maintaining the master workflow to work simultaneously and keep the process up to date.

Figure 8. Master workflow of jet engine study


In the described approach, the digital prototype is a master workflow that references single study workflows created and maintained by different enterprise teams. Referencing single study workflows enables the enterprise to flexibly compose a complete workflow, while providing the ability to edit and run single study workflows independently, as well as to reuse a certain workflow by referencing it from multiple workflows.

The implementation of a project in the form of several interconnected workflows ensures the preservation of knowledge and expertise, practices and design methods, as well as reusing existing data and computational experiments. Each individual workflow can be created and maintained by a separate team of specialists, while all the workflows together form an integral multidisciplinary study.

Adoption of pSeven Enterprise can significantly speed up the engineering processes and reduce the likelihood of errors, especially when working on complex, multidisciplinary cases.

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