Engineering simulation has become the pivotal tool for research and development in industries including offshore oil & gas, aerospace, automotive, mobile/off-highway, health care, and others. This case study will explore the financial and time-based savings achieved through detailed simulations and a system-based design approach in two hydraulic valve development projects. The applications in this scope include subsea blowout preventer and off-highway mobile equipment controls.

Tools like 1D system simulation, computational fluid dynamics, and finite element analysis are widely accepted; verification and validation (V&V) of these models is imperative in building confidence in simulation. Some V&V reference standards have been developed by groups like ASME and API, but they do not encompass all aspects of simulation regularly utilized by the modern analyst. This places the onus for the creation of V&V guidelines onto individual analysts and their respective employers. Lack of detail in these guidelines can lead to flawed interpretations of results and a corresponding loss of trust in analytical methods. Interdisciplinary organizations can provide forums to help bridge these gaps and create more comprehensive V&V guidelines.

Through a study of the development cycles of a subsea valve and an off-highway mobile valve, examples will be outlined which illustrate the benefit of extensive upfront simulation validated by physical testing. Simulation work serves as a cost avoidance measure against many cycles of building and testing prototypes beyond what is truly required in the early stages of design.

Accurate simulation is a key component of successful product development, but another often neglected factor is the collaboration between subject matter experts from the component suppliers and the OEM or system integrator. High performance teams comprised of seasoned designers, analysts, and market experts can collaborate to create devices that excel when integrated into a final product. Component designers may wish to isolate the design problem to the component in question, but critical engineering detail will be missed by avoiding a system approach. Expanding the scope of the design analysis to include as much of the application as possible as well as utilizing V&V techniques (beyond minimum industry standards) is key to ensuring that laboratory test data is representative of how a product will perform in its intended application.

As the industry continues to evolve, powerful digital twins of systems like blowout preventers can be used for OEM validation of new technology proposed for these systems. However, the fidelity of these digital twins is contingent upon the inputs from thoroughly validated analytical models of the components that comprise the system.

By collaborating across the customer-supplier value chain and investing heavily in simulation, offshore manufacturers can strategically position themselves to win in times when both customer expectations and the costs of failure are at an all-time high.

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